Portia has given Bassanio a ring, making him swear never to give it to another person. However, when Portia is disguised as a male lawyer and has successfully defended Antonio , saving him from death, she insists on the ring as her payment from Bassanio. Bassanio feels very badly about...
Portia has given Bassanio a ring, making him swear never to give it to another person. However, when Portia is disguised as a male lawyer and has successfully defended Antonio, saving him from death, she insists on the ring as her payment from Bassanio. Bassanio feels very badly about giving the lawyer the ring (not knowing, of course, the lawyer is Portia) but feels he has no choice. How could he not give the lawyer what he asked for when it was his, Bassanio's, fault that Antonio's life was on the line—and when Antonio urged him to give up the ring?
In this passage from act 5, scene 1, Antonio is defending Bassanio to Portia for giving away the ring. When he says
I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit,
he means that he would make an agreement with her, Portia, as binding as the one he made with Shylock
for the loan that helped Bassanio. This time however, he will swear not his flesh but his very soul that Bassanio will never break his word again to Portia.
Antonio is, first, using the literary technique of allusion
when he says he would be bound again. He is alluding or referring to the harrowing contract he entered into with Shylock, stating he would enter into a similar contract with Portia. Because Portia knows how frightening the consequences of that first contract were, she understands the depth of what he is offering.
Antonio is also using the literary technique of parallelism
: he was willing to risk his body to secure a loan for Bassanio that got his friend the money (material goods) he needed to woo Portia. Now Antonio is willing to risk his soul, more important to him than his body, to guarantee that Bassanio's soul will be faithful to Portia from now on. Antonio communicates that he understands that Bassanio's faithfulness to Portia is worth more to her than the money he brings her.
Antonio is also using the literary technique of hyperbole
or exaggeration—we have to imagine that while his words are heartfelt, he doesn't actually mean to give up his eternal soul. The words are meant to show how important it is to him that Portia and Bassanio get off to a good start in their marriage and to attest to his belief in Bassanio's goodness.