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Merchant Of Venice

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Throughout the centuries peoples’ views about what a true friendship is have changed and morphed into different things over the years. At one point in time a friend was someone who would do anything for you, at another a friend was a shoulder to cry on, or a person to gossip with about the latest news. At another time a friend was just someone who you could play racquetball or golf with after work. Most people have similar views on what a true friend is. That view is that a true friend is someone who is always there for you and a person you enjoy spending time with. In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare shows the reader; through the characters of Bassanio and Antonio, what the true definition of a friendship really is. The definition of friendship from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is �the state of being friends’. Antonio and Bassanio have a friendship throughout the play that is similar to this definition and the perceived definition most people have.

At the beginning of The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio comes to Antonio wanting to try his hand for a woman of great beauty and wealth named Portia (6-7). Knowing that Bassanio would be traveling quite a distance away and also acknowledging that Bassanio would probably acquire what he wished, Antonio let him go. Antonio seemed to be in love with his best friend, Bassanio, but he decided to let his friend depart anyways. This incident shows Bassanio and Antonio’s true friendship at work, because Antonio let Bassanio leave because he knew it would make Bassanio happy. Making your friend happy is one part of friendship that contributes to making a true, long lasting relationship.

Just after Bassanio asks Antonio’s approval to go and try his hand for Portia, Bassanio asks Antonio if he can loan him a sum of money so he can appear wealthy when he meets Portia. Antonio, being a somewhat wealthy merchant himself, explains to Bassanio the truth; that his ships are out at sea so he is incapable of raising a sum of money that large in such a short span of time. He then continues to say that Bassanio however, has his approval to go to Venice and try what his credit can (7). Bassanio and Antonio travel to Venice to find a money lender. They end up falling upon Shylock, an angry Jewish man who lends money. In the end, Antonio ends up signing a contract with Shylock for a sum of three thousand ducats; in return, if Antonio can not repay Shylock by a certain time, he has to forfeit a pound of flesh (16). Antonio feels confident enough that his ships will come in well before the due date. So he signs the contract, not knowing he has just signed his death sentence. Another sign of a true friendship is shown by Antonio, he is not only willing to give all the money Bassanio requests, to him, but also sign a contract to forfeit a pound



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