Indicate the importance of Bassanio's role in The Merchant of Venice.

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Noelle Matteson | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Bassanio plays a key role in The Merchant of Venice. He loves Portia, a beautiful, virtuous, and wealthy young woman. However, he does not have enough money to compete with her many suitors. Because of this, Bassanio asks his friend Antonio for money, who in turn borrows it from his mortal enemy Shylock. Bassanio does not like “fair terms and a villain's mind.” The terms are very harsh: if Antonio does not repay Shylock within three months, Shylock will cut out a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

Bassanio also plays a role in the elopement of Jessica, the Jewish Shylock’s daughter, and Lorenzo, Bassanio’s Christian friend. This enrages Shylock, who leaps on the opportunity to take revenge on Antonio, whose bad fortunes make him unable to recompense Shylock on time. Because of Bassanio, Shylock plans to take that pound of Antonio's flesh in court.

However, Bassanio’s relationship with Portia is also essential. Her father required that she marry the man who correctly chose one of three caskets. She loves Bassanio and is relieved that he guesses correctly. When Portia hears about Antonio’s fate, she offers money and even disguises herself as a male lawyer to free him. Thanks to her wit, Antonio is saved. Bassanio’s presence contributes to the play’s main love story, the drama between Shylock and Antonio, and even the secondary romance between Jessica and Lorenzo.

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