The Merchant of Venice- Critical Evaluation

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How effectively does Shakespeare explore the themes of love and hate through character in the play “The Merchant of Venice”?

William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice contains many themes and elements that could be considered timeless. Shakespeare effectively explores the themes of love and hate through character in the play which is a play of two parts. One part follows the fortunes of Bassanio, a friend of the Merchant, Antonio, in his attempts to win the hand of Portia, the rich and beautiful heiress of Belmont. The second part deals with the bond Antonio makes with Shylock, the wealthy Jew. Antonio agrees that if the three thousand ducats he borrows are not repaid within three months he will lose a pound of flesh in order to
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“…he hath disgrac’d me, and hinder’d me half a million…”
(3, I, ll 50 -51)
I think this is very effective as Shylock is seen as the ‘bad’ guy most of the time, but later in the story we see Antonio do the same thing.

The theme of love is further developed in the play as now the fact that Bassanio’s debt is to be paid with Antonio’s flesh, it shows significance; showing how their friendship is so binding it has made them almost one.
The contest for Portia’s hand, in which suitors from various countries choose among a gold, a silver, and a lead casket, presents the love Portia has for her late father; as this was a riddle he devised to decide which suitor actually wants her and not her money. To win Portia, Bassanio must ignore the gold casket, which bears the inscription,
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire” (2, vii, l 5) and the silver casket which says,
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves” (2, vii l 7)
The correct casket is lead and warns that the person who chooses it must give and risk everything he has. The contest combines a number of Christian teachings like, appearances are often deceiving, and that people should not trust the evidence provided by the senses- hence the humble appearance of the lead casket. Portia’s father has presented marriage as one in which the proper suitor risks and gives everything for the spouse, in the hope of a divine recompense he can never
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