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    The play “Merchant of Venice” Essay

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    This extract is from the opening scene of the play “Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare. It is from Act one scene one of the play. This is the stage at which Bassanio is asking Antonio for money in order to be able to go and attempt to win Portia over. He first begins with the mention of how he owes Antonio money, stating that if Antonio lends him money in order for him to go to see Portia, his is sure that he will be able to win her and pay off all debts to him, as she is extremely wealthy.

    This extract of the play is very informative as it shows us the relationship that Antonio and Bassanio have with one another as well as many traits of Bassanio’s character. Just by reading this extract of the play, Shakespeare foreshadows one of the plots of the play; the debt that Antonio holds with Shylock. This plot concerning money and the debt is first mentioned when Bassanio mentions the debt that he already owes Antonio when he says to him “I owe you much…

    ” This shows us the fact that financially, Antonio has helped Bassanio in the past a great deal and preludes to Bassanio needing more money as well as causing more problems for Antonio. I say this because earlier on in the scene, we read about how Antonio (who is a merchant) has had ill luck with regard to his ships, which makes us feel that he is not in the best financial situation himself let alone able to easily, and with no possible consequence, help Bassanio in his need. However he does help him.

    The ‘main’ plot of the play is the romance and ‘love story’ of Bassanio and Portia as this is a romantic comedy and we read of this first reference when Bassanio describes Portia “… a lady richly left, And she is fair, and, fairer than that word, Of wondrous virtue… ” this shows us the first reference of Portia which creates an image in our minds of a beautiful rich lady. This shows us something about Bassanio’s character however, as he also mentions her virtues which will be looked at slightly later on.

    We then read about the ‘gamble’ that Bassanio is making reference to when he states, “… when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-same flight… and by adventuring forth… I oft found both. ” This foretells future events of when Antonio makes a bond with Shylock and bases it on chance of either Bassanio’s success with Portia or the chance of success with his ships. As the reader, I personally feel that the later is less likely as to the fact that we previously read about his misfortunes at seas and this prophesises future misfortune on his part.

    Another factor which foreshadows future events is the role and mention of Portia. By reading this extract of the play, we find out how Bassanio feels that Portia is the solution to his, and subtly Antonio’s, financial problems. By marrying Portia who ‘is a lady richly laid… ‘ he feels that this will solve all his debts to Antonio. This shows the importance that Portia plays in the lives of both these men in the future of the play and the dependency they will have on her at later stages of the play whether it be knowingly or unknowingly to them.

    She helps Bassanio as she is his monetary solution and she saves Antonio’s life by acting like a doctor in the court case against Shylock and defeats him so as to save his life. Another interesting point that should be noted is the fact that by reading this extract, it is clear to see that Antonio would do anything for Bassanio as he states that “Then do state to me what I should do… ” Also after stating that he has no money that is not at sea he tells Bassanio to ‘therefore go forth, Try what my credit can in Venice do…

    ” This foreshadows the grim situation that Antonio will find himself in the future with his creditor; Shylock. This also gives us a preview of how Antonio will do all that he can for Bassanio but the question I asked as the reader and onlooker was whether or not Bassanio would do the same for Antonio? Another interesting reference to the future happenings of the play is the underlying mention of love that Bassanio refers to knowingly or unknowingly. This is the reference he makes to the arrows.

    By referring to the arrows, I personally felt that Bassanio makes reference to Cupid, the God of love. This can be seen as a hidden message to the fact that he intends to ‘shoot’ Portia with his ‘arrow of love’ and to therefore gain her hand in marriage. This can also be looked at from a comical perspective in that, Bassanio does not have the means to ‘shoot’ Portia with his love arrows and therefore need Antonio’s money in order to do so. Arrows are expensive.

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