Merchant of Venice

On the Ambiguity of Love in the Merchant of Venice College

William Shakespeare’s The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice depicts an odd juxtaposition of love in the romantic sense with wealth in the monetary sense. The characters in the text acknowledge both senses as valuable virtues, yet comparatively, said virtues are measured against each other to determine (or at least broach the question of) which is more valuable. Arguably the most significant quagmire in measuring these virtues against one another is the credibility of love’s representations in the text, and with regard to specifically Antonio, a merchant of Venice, and Bassanio, his closest friend, the nature of their kinship as compared to Bassanio’s interactions with the heiress, Portia, detracts from the tenability of what characters claim love to be. The following ultimately argues that Shakespeare deliberately or inadvertently depicted a common aspect of male personas that was, in his time, completely unaffected by contemporary ideas of sexual orientation but would presently be viewed as homosocial behavior; consequently, relations between a man and a woman in Shakespeare’s time are depicted as mere tradition and irrelevant to homosocial intimacy.

The element of the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio that...

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