Merchant Of Venice: Marriage And Relational Commitment

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Marriage is one of the most prominent themes in William Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’ and the 21st century, but it is portrayed as more convenience then true love.

In today’s society many people believe that relationships are associated with love, however in William Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’, this wasn’t necessarily the case. Instead, this play portrays relationships as being convenient displayed by the leads and supporting characters. Shakespeare addresses this topic by providing the audience with three examples of convenient relationships between Jessica and Lorenzo, Portia and Bassanio, and Antonio and Bassanio. Furthermore, these types of relationships are still present in the 21st century.

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In the Merchant of Venice, the relationship between Jessica and Lorenzo is about escaping from parents rather than love. This is seen in Scene 3 where Jessica states, “Our house is hell”, which displays that she is unhappy living with her father. It is clear that she wants to leave her father by marrying Lorenzo when she states, “I shall end this strife, become a Christian and thy loving wife!”. Although this attitude is seen in the Elizabethan era it is also present in today’s society. For example, this is seen when people marry to get out of abusive situations. It can also relate to when people leave home at a young age to have freedom away from their parents. Clearly Jessica only wanted to marry Lorenzo to get away from her father which indicates that her relationship is more about convivence then love.“Our house is hell”

“I shall end this strife, become a Christian and thy loving wife!”

Bassanio and Portia’s is about a massive pay day then for love. Bassanio believes that marrying Portia will be the answer to his financial issues. Presented in Act 1 scene 1 where Bassanio states “In Belmont is a lady richly left, and she is fair”, he mentions her money before her beauty which clearly indicates that money is his first option. Bassanio refers to wealth; “Hang on her temples like a golden fleece”, leading to the conclusion that his motive for wishing to marry her was not love. Situation such as this are still relevant in the 21st century. For example, celebrity couples because they are only doing it for the fam and public attention. This is also present in fake marriages where they marry for there own personal benefit. obviously Bassanio’s intentions of wedding Portia is unfaithful from the start. Which displays convenience rather than love.

The final relationship is Bassanio and Antonio. Bassanio overuses the relationship by only being in it to receive something. Perhaps to some degree Bassanio is using Antonio for his money; it seems unreasonable to ask for more before he has paid his previous debt. Which allow the audience to realise that Antonio is willing to risk his life on Bassanio’s behalf, and his loss of finances to support Bassanio. Bassanio is using Antonio’s feelings as a weakness to get what he desires. Leading to Antonio suffering from his love for Bassanio and why he is taken for granted. The quote from Act 1 Scene 1 is interpreted as Bassanio knowing that Antonio will do anything for him, allowing Bassanio to get what he wants. He says, “You know me well, and herein spend but time to wind about my love with circumstance. And out of doubt you do me now more wrong in making question of my uttermost than if you had made waste of all I have”. This quote allows to understand that Bassanio knows Antonio very well and is using that against him, because he will do whatever Bassanio wants him to do. Relationships such as this one can be seen through out the 21st century today. For example, same sex relationships when one has the stronger feelings. It can also relate to insincere partners or of unfaithful friendships. Evidently Bassanio just wanted his own profit and didn’t care how it happened, which demonstrates that the relationship wasn’t love at all, but used it to his advantage.“You know me well, and herein spend but time

To wind about my love with circumstances.

And out of doubt you do me now more wrong

In making question of my uttermost

Than if you had made waste of all I have.”

The Three examples of Convenience not love in the Merchant of Venice is still present today. According to statistic a half of marriages end in divorce, leading to the conclusion that peoples intentions for marriage aren’t very sincere. This present in modern day technology as well, like movies and tv show.

In conclusion William Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice clearly indicates that the overall concept of the play is not for love but for the own personal benefit of the character. Each example displayed an act of personal benefit leading to the overall statement that marriage and relational commitment is more about one’s necessity the love for one’s other.


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