Consequences Of Love In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

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In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, several characters cross the boundaries of societal and ethical standards in the name of gaining love. As seen in Antonio and Bassanio’s relationship as well as Jessica and Lorenzo’s, love causes people to become desperate for their lovers’ affection, making them more likely to go against their cultures’ and their own codes of conduct. Love enables transgression of even the traditionally fixed bounds of gender, sexuality, and religion. These relationships further suggest that love necessitates transgression because love requires giving up oneself completely, including one’s morals and normal behavior.
Antonio and Bassanio not only commit several transgressions because of their love, but the love itself also transgresses the expectations for romantic relationships at that time. In the setting of the play, society does not accept romantic relationships between two men, so Antonio and Bassanio’s love for each other should not exist. Nevertheless, Antonio openly displays his affection for Bassanio from the beginning of the play, declaring “My purse, my person, my extremest means, / Lie all unlock’d to your occasions” (I.1.134-135). By committing himself completely to Bassanio, Antonio does not attempt at all to conceal his feelings for another man, but rather, he embraces them. Furthermore, Antonio’s devotion to Bassanio leads him to violate his own beliefs about borrowing money on interest. Antonio says “I neither lend nor borrow / By
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