Self Interest versus Love in The Merchant of Venice Essay

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Self Interest versus Love in The Merchant of Venice While there are many fundamental themes in The Merchant of Venice, only one seems to drive the play to its inevitable conclusion. There is a constant theme of self interest versus love. On the surface, this seems to be the dividing factor between the Christians and the Jew, as Shylock is supposed to only care about money, profits, and such, while the rest of the cast value human relationships more. Men such as Antonio and Bassiano lend money without interest or even thought at times, and end up taking far more risks for those they care about. “He lends out money gratis, and brings down | The rate of usance here with us in Venice.”(1.3.45) Shylock complains to the…show more content…
He doesn’t miss the value of the ring but it’s sentimental value, vowing “I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.” (3.1.100) Too, his stubbornness in only accepting a pound of flesh in payment of Antonio’s debt, even when offered “thrice thy money”, shows that not everything can be measured in ducats to him. His supposed Christian betters are not any more consistant. Bassiano first seeks to marry Portia, not for love or her beauty, but because her money will get him out of his huge debts. He asks Antonio to lend him money as an investment, though Antonio insists that the money is lent out of love, not business. He even has to go into debt, something he never does, to supply the ducats. Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea; Neither have I money nor commodity To raise a present sum; therefore go forth, Try what my credit can in Venice do; That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia. Go presently inquire, and so will I, Where money is; and I no question make To have it of my trust or for my sake. (1.1.230) Near the end of the play, after both men have been married, they are so careless as to give away one wedding ring and allow the other to be stolen. Though they unwittingly “give” them to their wives, this illustrates their self intrest

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