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Describe the nature of Bassanio's relationship with Portia in Merchant of Venice.Does...

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zaqqaz | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 6, 2009 at 5:36 PM via web

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Describe the nature of Bassanio's relationship with Portia in Merchant of Venice.

Does Bassanio genuinely loves Portia, or is he just after the money?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 7, 2009 at 12:27 AM (Answer #1)

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The relationship between Portia and Bassanio is apparently a stainless romantic relationship in Shakespeare's romantic comedy The Merchant of Venice. But, if one looks closely, there appears to be some scars in it. Critics have also suggested a possible homoerotic communion between Bassanio and Antonio. Does Antonio want to marry Portia for her wealth or is it just a sublime love at first sight situation? The three caskets scene creates an anti-materialistic context for the kind of love he has for Portia, but then, is it not his cunning judgement and a mere display of self-effacing love?

Bassanio also gives Portia's ring to Portia in disguise of the lawyer. Thus, their relation seems to commence on a betrayal, as it were. Looking at it from Portia's side, it is not a neutral relation either. Cunning has a greater role to play in her relation than passion and emotion. The way she makes Bassanio financially dependent, accepting the opportunity of clearing Antonio's debts gleefully, shows her great intelligence. She turns the situation on its head and assumes all power on her own. Even in the courtroom scene, she normativizes the Christian virtue of mercy as a universal human virtue to exclude the Jew. The letter of the law is what she resorts to than the spirit of the law as she dupes Shylock through his own language by literalizing the language of the pact. Some critics also feel, she does all this to show her power over Antonio, in the process estranging the two males. so, as one can see, the Portia-Bassanio relation is strongly driven by self-interest and hidden power-games.

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anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted June 16, 2008 at 6:41 PM (Answer #1)

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The relationship between Portia and Bassanio is not an easy one to fathom. Bassanio himself is something of an enigma: Portia speaks very flatteringly of him but we see little of him other than as part of the Venetian boys-about-town who gather around the rich Antonio, really just parasites. Indeed he is already in debt to Antonio and wants to borrow considerably more to gamble on securing 'a lady richly left.' A bit of a chancer, it would appear. True, he does warn Antonio against Shylock's proposal and stands by him when things go wrong, but otherwise it is difficult to see why Portia seems so girlishly infatuated by him as he prepares to take the casket test. Pure physical attraction? It certainly looks like it.

After the trial, however, Portia seems much more in control, as the ring trick shows. It is almost as if, having got her man, she is now putting him in his place. If Portia is a control freak, could this prove to be a problem in future? Bassanio has been, among other things, something of an adventurer in the past, and might not long endure playing second fiddle to his rich wife. Otherwise the world that the pair inhabit at the end of the play seems nothing short of idyllic. Idyllic that is for the kind of wasters who now populate it.

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pragathi | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 20, 2008 at 10:51 PM (Answer #2)

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 Actually once bassanio visited Belmount when portia's father was alive ,there he saw portia and fell in love with her .He actually felt as though portia also conyed her agreement though her eyes .As some people say they conyed their love through their eyes.They wanted their relationship to last so they promised @the time of their marriage that if they part with the wedding ring they should also part their love also.

Although both of them were willing to marry each other there were some conditions for them to follow.1st bassanio had to go to belmount and choose the right casket ,for this he had to get /borrow some ducats from antonio as he did not have it it was borrowed from shylock. And don't FORGET the suitor who came to propose portia had to choose the right casket ;in case he chooses the wrong one he is banned to ask any other woman for her hand in marriage.  and they had a problem after the their marriage i think you know it. like this they had many problems

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