Describe the nature of Bassanio's relationship with Portia in Merchant of Venice. Does Bassanio genuinely love Portia or is he just after the money?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Bassanio presents his courtship of Portia to Antonio as a business venture. He says that he has "disabled" his estate and is now much in debt, to Antonio most of all, with very little income. He then announces his plan to restore his fallen fortunes:

In Belmont is a lady richly left;
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages...

From these four lines, we learn four things about Portia: she is rich, she is beautiful, she is virtuous and she seems to favor Bassanio, at least according to him. Her wealth is mentioned first, however. She is not merely from a rich family, but richly left, which is to say in control of her own money. Portia is in a position to disencumber Bassanio's estate and pay off his debts immediately if he can manage to marry her.

Bassanio does speak enthusiastically of all Portia's qualities. It is a reasonable supposition that he would not have targeted a rich but unattractive and unappealing...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1280 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team