Antonio and Bassanio Essay: The Merchant of Venice

August 31, 2022

The major characters in the comedy “The Merchant of Venice” include Shylock, Portia, Antonio, and Bassanio. Shylock is one of the most unforgettable characters in Shakespeare’s oeuvre, while Portia is also one of the most important among the diverse women characters portrayed in Shakespeare.

Shylock has been shown as the mocked figure of the Jewish stereotype with a fractured sense of values. But it is Shylock’s very own values that have been turned around and put against him in this whole mocking trajectory of his character. Shylock has been made the antagonist not but almost oddly enough, placed against a very limiting backdrop of people who are against him.

In the larger sense of the term, Shylock is a multi-layered character who has just been playing the crooked because of being the underdog or alienated in the society where he is. He is a creation of the circumstances around him, and the evils played through his characters are not deep rooted but a way of safeguarding himself from the very society he has been thrown into. In that regard, Shylock is misunderstood as the greater trajectory of Semitics, who has remained misjudged in a largely Christian society.

Shylock’s actions and decisions have derided the young gentlemen of Venice from their happiness.

The concern is more of Bassanio than that of the complying and generous friend Antonio.

Bassanio is one extraordinary character who descends from noble lineage but is in no form to work for himself or make his name. Instead, he chooses to woo and win the heart of the multi-talented and wealthy Portia taking help from his friend, Antonio. Antonio helps his dear friend have the fulfillment of his heart’s desire and even risks his life in the process. Bassanio is the lucky fellow who gets everything and gets away with them.

However, it is more of his lady luck, Portia, who is the more intelligent of the men and works her way into saving Antonio back to life. With a woman of intense wit and charm like Portia, the reader is curiously left to ask why she would choose a man like Bassanio.

But then, with the play ending up merrily with the newly married couples and their friends, it is a well-suited plot done conveniently and fairly. A woman of extreme wit and power would perhaps want a husband who would bring her peace of mind and sweet romance rather than driving the extension of any added burden of ambition.

We find a lack of that male drive present in Antonio or Bassanio. However, in a league of her own, Portia gracefully complies with all the laws and expectations of society while wittily flouting each of them to make them suit her own needs.

Her high level of wit and application of her resources make her more powerful than any man she could have picked up for herself. She is highly unconventional for the age she lives in and also gets to see the loopholes of society without the need to sacrifice her feminine grace in her way.

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