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.