Compare and contrast Venice and Belmont. What is the significance of these distinct settings in The Merchant of Venice?

Venice and Belmont are significantly distinct settings because Bassanio is in Venice but desires Belmont. Venice represents the everyday, commercial, and ordinary, while Belmont represents the rarefied and beautiful that Bassanio covets. Belmont, set above Venice, requires one to ascend and is therefore aspirational. It also symbolizes the distance between Bassanio and Portia, or between Bassanio and all that he desires. Bassanio compares Belmont to Colchos's strand because many men covet Portia as Bassanio does.

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Venice and Belmont are the two settings where the important events in the play occur. The significance of making them distinct settings in the play is to show how far Bassanio is in Venice from realizing his dreams when the play opens. Venice represents the everyday, commercial, and ordinary life, while Belmont represents the rarefied, protected enclave to which Bassanio aspires.

As its name implies and another educator already explained, Belmont means beautiful mount. Thus, the image of the place is one set above the city of Venice. To get to Belmont, one must ascend or go up. Belmont therefore is aspirational for Bassanio. It represents what he wants, which includes Portia and riches, as Belmont is where Portia lives. In the play, Shakespeare introduces Belmont like so:

“In Belmont is a lady richly left;
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues…”

All of these flattering words describe Portia, but one could extrapolate that they refer to Belmont itself, which at...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 980 words.)

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