The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare approaches themes of friendship and loyalty in several different ways, some more obvious than others. Characters exemplify both loyalty and disloyalty.
The most obvious example of loyalty and friendship is that of Antonio, who risks his money and even body to help his friend Bassanio. He models a form of loyalty which includes self-sacrifice and is a model of the Christian virtue of non-sexual forms of love. Portia is also a positive example of loyalty, using bravery and intelligence to help her beloved and his friend.
Shylock is a more controversial character, but one could say that he is ultimately admirable in the way he remains loyal to his religious tradition as long as possible despite the pressures on him to convert to Christianity and compromise with the oppressive power of the Christian religion. Although Shylock is, to a certain degree, a villain in the play, he does demonstrate the characteristic of loyalty to his faith until he is finally...
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