How does Antonio help Bassanio and why doesn't he just give him the money himself? How does Antonio help Bassanio and why doesn't he just give him the money himself?
Towards the end of act 1, scene 1, Bassanio explains to Antonio that he has been irresponsible with his finances but has a plan to gain money by traveling to Belmont to marry a wealthy heiress named Portia. Unfortunately, Bassanio cannot afford to travel to Belmont and asks Antonio to lend him money for the journey. Antonio is more than willing to lend Bassanio the money but cannot give him cash because his money is tied up in his ships' cargo, which is out at sea. The best Antonio can do is to lend Bassanio money by allowing him to charge all of his expenses to his credit. Antonio tell Bassanio,
Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea. Neither have I money nor commodity To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth, Try what my credit can in Venice do—That shall be racked even to the uttermost To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia (Shakespeare, 1.1.179-184).
In act 1, scene 3, Bassanio inquires about whether or not Shylock will lend him three thousand ducats on Antonio's line of credit. Initially, Shylock is skeptical because all of Antonio's money is invested in his merchant ships, which are out at sea. However, Shylock finally decides to lend Bassanio the money after Antonio agrees that he will give Shylock a pound of his flesh if he forfeits on the loan.
Antonio helps Bassanio by borrowing money from Shylock, the Jewish money-lender, to loan to Bassanio so that he (Bassanio) can court Portia, a wealthy heiress. Antonio's money is tied up in his ships and trading, so he doesn't have the cash on hand to loan to Bassanio himself. The trouble occurs when Shylock wants a pound of Antonio's flesh, rather than the money paid back and the interest he would have made on the sum.