Male Friendship in William Shakespeare´s The Merchant of Venice

556 WordsJan 27, 20182 Pages
In 16th century England, platonic, passionate friendships between men were a commonality, and this was the case for Bassanio and Antonio. The Merchant of Venice shows how Antonio’s help in Bassanio’s pursuit for Portia’s love is actually his way of showing love. Antonio gives Bassanio financial support even though Bassanio already owes him money. He especially risks himself by taking out a bid from Shylock because all of his assets are at sea. These actions can be seen as loyal friendship, but Antonio exceeds friendship by taking a risky loan and putting his life in the hands of a cruel Jew to assure the contentment of his dear friend. Antonio’s actions overstep heterosexual boundaries by plunging into a risky business ordeal so his friend can charm Portia in style. The first scene where we are introduced to Antonio, he is speaking to his friends Salarino and Gratiano. He is a melancholy, distressed character who proclaims “I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,—a stage where every man must play a part, and mine a sad one.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Page 4). This line becomes more important when Bassanio enters, and Gratiano and Salarino rush themselves away, knowing that Antonio would prefer to be with Bassanio alone. After they leave, Antonio presses Bassanio about the girl he is interested in. While this is a common thing to ask among friends, deeper inquiry suggests that Antonio has deeper feelings for Bassanio. Thus the line about the “part” Antonio plays in the world

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