From The Merchant of Venice, illustrate the theme of friendship and loyalty.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The theme of friendship and loyalty in The Merchant of Venice is represented on many levels and by many characters, but the most pronounced representatives of it are Antonio and Bassanio, who represent both friendship and loyalty. Antonio and Bassanio have a deep and genuine friendship that even extends to honest representations of information that others may receive a falsified idea of. Specifically, Antonio at first protests that he is not concerned about his ships because he has money invested in more places than his ships, so if they are delayed in or prevented from returning with their cargos of imports, Antonio won't be financially ruined.

However, when Bassanio comes to ask his assistance, Antonio tells him the truth as he says that everything he has depends uopn the safe return of his ships, so much so that he sends Bassanio to the marketplace to secure a loan in Antonio's name for the three tousand ducats that Bassanio needs. And speaking of Bassanio, he too displays the true picture of his situation. He says there is a chance he can marry a very wealthy woman and therefore needs money, of which he has none, to make a good showing of himself; in other words, he confides in Antonio that he doesn't want to look like the penniless, shiftless, fortune-hunter that he is. Only people with deep friendships confide truths like these to each other. As to their loyalty, Antonio pledges his flesh to help Bassanio, and Bassanio wishes to be able to sacrifice himself, his new wife, and all her wealth to be able to save Antonio from the court's ruling in favor of Shylock's claim stemming from the forfeited repayment of the money as required by the loan contract.

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