In The Merchant of Venice, is Bassanio a Christian or a Jew?

3 Answers

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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We can safely conclude that Bassanio is definitely not a Jew. Let us remember that at the time, Jews faced discrimination and bad treatment from Christians, as Shylock alludes to when he taunts Antonio with the power that he has over him now that Antonio needs to borrow money from him. Antonio's hatred of Jews and in particular of Shylock is evident from the text. It is therefore impossible that Antonio would have developed such a close relationship with Bassanio had he been a Jew. Let us remember what Antonio says to Bassanio in Act I scene 1:

My purse, my person, my extremest means,

Lie all unlocked to your occasions.

Therefore, to conclude, the intimacy of the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio and the way that Antonio is shown to hate Jews and in particular Shylock should lead us to conclude that there is no chance that Bassanio is a Jew and not a Christian.

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mb11 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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Bassanio is a pure Christian by birth. Christians had the quality of forgiveness and sympathy contrary to Jews who were stone hearted and un forgiving. When Portia sends Bassanio with 6000 ducats to free Antonio from the bond , he immediately goes to save his friend. Had he been a Jew he would think twice before going.

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ayy-dee | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Bassanio is definately not a jew, he is a christian!!