The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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Compare Antonio with Bassanio and Portia with Shylock in The Merchant Of Venice.

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Antonio and Bassanio are very close friends but are different in character. Antonio accuses Shylock of usury (lending money with a high interest rate) whereas Shylock accuses Antonio of lending money with no interest. This dichotomy seems to establish Antonio as a generous businessman (or a bad one) and Shylock as a greedy businessman (or a smart one). Antonio is more complicated than this, as is Shylock.

At the beginning of the play, Antonio exhibits a melancholy that is never fully revealed. Some critics speculate that he is unhappy in his position as a moneylender given his generous nature. However, he must have some business sense (charging some interest) in order to even stay in business, so saying he is generous and Shylock is greedy is much too simplistic. Bassanio, in the end, turns out to be nearly as loyal a friend to Antonio as Antonio is to Bassanio. But Bassanio is more impulsive, more irresponsible. Like Shylock and Antonio, Bassanio is more complicated. He is impulsive and...

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