In "The Merchant of Venice," why does Antonio enter into the potentially fatal loan contract with Shylock?
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Antonio believes that firstly Shylock is joking. Secondly by signing up to this loan Antonio believes that he is showing Bassanio how much their friendship means to him
He was willing to borrow money from Shylock to give Bassanio without any unselfish means on the surface which defines the true meaning of altruism, which is both moral and natural, devoted to the interests of others and not to himself. He was trying to show Bassanio his love for him by borrowing money.
But, looking deeper into the story and the context, the loan raise few questions.
Firstly, it is known to everyone that Bassanio is a spendthrift who does not repay the money he owned back to others, which he admitted himself
Secondly, Shylock was known to be like a bloodthirsty bogeyman, a clownish Jewish stereotype, who was known for his cruelty. He tried to revenge the wrongs that was done to him in the past by attempting to murder Antonio, his persecutor. So, if Antoni sinks so deep to borrow from this abominable monster, it bounds to be trouble.
So, this loan was correctly deemed "fatal"
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