The Merchant of
· Now that Bassanio picked the right casket and won Portia’s hand, the happy couple promises one another love and devotion, as Portia gives Bassanio a ring that he must never part with, as his removal of it will signify the end of his love for her.
· However, in the midst of this rejoicing Lorenzo and Jessica arrive, along with Salerio, who brings bad news for Bassanio, in a letter from Antonio. The letter informs Bassanio that all of Antonio’s ships are lost and that Shylock plans to collect his ‘pound of flesh’. This news about his friend, whom he had borrowed money from, provokes a sense of guilt in Bassanio.
In effect Portia offers to pay twenty times the sum in order to
save Bassanio’s friend. She urges her husband to rush
to Antonio’s aid, after he marries her. Bassanio
eventually leaves for
Motifs and connotations
The ring given to Bassanio by Portia acts as an important motif, Portia states that the ring is a metaphor for her love, nevertheless, this demonstrates the way love revolves around materialistic things, as Portia’s love is objectified. Furthermore, it is suggested by the fact that Portia states, that if Bassanio is to lose the ring their love is doomed, it is hinted that their love is in fact dependent of a materialistic object.
The letter from Antonio to Bassanio
in this scene acts as a connection between
· Through out this scene different illusions of love are created. There is a strong sense of profound love built, portraying love in a light we haven’t seen before in the play, for example the exchange of vows between Portia and Bassanio are conducted at an exalted level, suggesting an idyllic romance.
· However, Gratiano readjusts the balance by portraying love in a different light, as he boastfully wagers that he and Nerissa produce a boy before they Portia and Bassanio do, reminding us that it is physical as well as a spiritual union, “We’ll play with them the first boy for a thousand ducats “.
· Love moreover, through out this scene is also seen as based on appearance, highlighting the theme of appearance versus reality, present through out the play, as phrases such as “A thousand times more fair” and Gratiano’s comment “My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours”, contrast with the image of profound love also present in this scene, as they focus on appearance and create a different illusion of love.
· Furthermore, this scene displays love based on materialism too, as there is a constant reference made to money “ten thousand times more rich” and materialistic items, such as the ring that Portia gives to Bassanio. Moreover, the fact that Portia immediately agrees to solve the monetary crisis that Antonio is in, which her husband feels guilty for further brings out a sense of self interest versus love, as we begin to wonder what Bassanio’s true intentions really are, for marrying Portia.
Law (in contrast to love):
Till this point,
Portia embodies the virtues that are typical of Shakespeare’s heroines. In this scene when speaking to Bassanio she appears to be the more dominant one in the relationship, she appears to be slightly authoritative, “And be my vantage to exclaim on you”. This may possibly be because she is the one with the monetary advantage. Moreover, she immediately begins to make attempts to solve the problems when Bassanio receives the letter. This ultimately undermines the image of women being minors, which Shakespeare makes beforehand. She is evidently, in this scene portrayed as a powerful character, even with the presence of men, she had the power to make a decision and immediately put it into effect.
Through out this scene Bassanio’s
character become more preferable as he has by now won Portia’s hand and in this
scene continues proclaiming his love for her. Nevertheless, his love at certain
points can be questioned as there are several references made towards monetary
items in this scene. However, because Bassanio is torn by an agonizing conflict
between his love and loyalty toward his new wife and his love and loyalty to
his old friend Antonio but eventually by the end of
the scene gets to marry Portia and leave to
It becomes evident in this scene that Jessica, in fact plays
a larger role in the plot of the play than it would appeared before. She is
given little attention by Portia and the others at
In this scene Salerio
escorts the newlyweds Jessica and Lorenzo to
Shakespeare through out this scene plays with the imagery of the theme of love. He portrays love in several different lights and allows us to interpret the theme in various ways, either as uncorrupted, as for the first time in the play there is an image of profound love created between Bassanio and Portia.
Nevertheless, the image of profound love is undermined with the images of money and appearances which are present through out this scene, therefore demonstrating how the imagery of love is exploited throughout the scene and is in fact dependant on how we wish to interpret it.
Evident from earlier in the play,
Moreover, there evidently appears to be no
As a drama text the atmosphere created heavily relies on the narrative style of the characters. Initially, in this scene it is evident that Portia and Bassanio speak the most; they both speak a large amount of lines as they devote their love to each other. Moreover, the couple speaks in iambic pentameter, emphasizing on the status of the characters. Initially in this scene, while Portia and Bassanio are devoting their love to each other, there is also a large sense of hyperbole in their narrative style, further emphasizing on the theme of profound love present.
Relation of Part to Whole
Ultimately this scene is essential to the whole play; it’s after Bassanio’s casket climax and in fact portrays an image of love never seen before in the play, as profound and uncorrupted. Moreover, in the aspect of characters, Jessica’s character is given more depth as we discover more about her and a new impression of Portia is created, undermining the previous image of women as minorities in comparison to men. In this scene, despite the fact that one obstacle is overcome, a new problem has arisen and the plot is thickened.