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Imagining Antonio at the time Bassanio departs for Belmont and his ships perish at sea,...

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sajjad1476 | Student | Honors

Posted May 5, 2013 at 6:58 AM via web

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Imagining Antonio at the time Bassanio departs for Belmont and his ships perish at sea, how can a diary entry describing his feelings, using references from The Merchant of Venice, be written? (Include feelings for Bassanio, Shylock and whether Antonio sees himself as a victim of love and politics)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 5, 2013 at 9:30 PM (Answer #1)

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At the beginning of the play, Salerio, a friend of Antonio's, tells him, "Your mind is tossing on the ocean" (1.1.8), foreshadowing the tragic physical events to come. Perhaps, then, the student can make a connection between the psychological and the physical in the diary entry of Antonio.  For, in Elizabethan times, people were suspicious of those who made their fortunes in mercantile ventures such as moneylending. Thus, at least part of Antonio's melancholy may be caused by his profession, and his generosity to Bassanio may be an overture to quiet his conscience as much as it is a gesture of love and friendship. 

So, a diary entry will include these internal conflicts resulting from a certain guilt that Antonio has about his profession, his antipathy for Shylock that drives him to prove what a good Christian he is by not charging interest and by being generous--"I have much ado to know myself" (2.1.7), and his love for Bassanio. Facing the moral disapproval of others because he is a merchant, then, Antonio has agreed to loan his friend money that he does not have at his immediate disposal. Prompted by this overture of friendship and generosity, Antonio takes the risk of paying Shylock a pound of flesh if he does not fulfill the conditions of the loan. Besides, he is confident that his three ships will make him such profit that repaying the loan will pose no problem.

The diary entry will, then, include Antonio's introspections about himself, his friendship with Bassanio, and his feeling about Shylock as well as his great anxiety over the loss of his ships.

While educators here at Enotes, do not actually write for students, here is a suggested beginning:

Earlier I knew not why I was so sad, but melancholy casts its pall over me as I am faced with certain destruction. Has it been unChristian of me to be a merchant? I have loaned money gratis, unlike the Jew Shylock. Now he can "feed fat the ancient grudge" (1.3.44) to his pleasure and extract my very life from me. Oh, Bassanio! for love of you I am in this place.....

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