What sort of a merchant of businessman is Antonio in "The Merchant of Venice?Is Antonio willfully blind here? Is Bassanio blind to Shylock's intentions?Also I need to look at the various...
What sort of a merchant of businessman is Antonio in "The Merchant of Venice?Is Antonio willfully blind here? Is Bassanio blind to Shylock's intentions?
Also I need to look at the various transformations of the words "kind" and "kindness" in this interchange.
(this part goes with the first question...)He lends money to a proven prodigal (Bassanio) and now he agrees to this bargain with Shylock, a man he calls his "enemy" (130), thinking that "he grows kind" (174).
Antonio would appear to be mainly a shipping merchant, not specializing in any particular commodity but making his wealth from the transportation of goods to and from the big trading center that Venice once was. As regards his ability as a merchant, which is probably what you're more interested in, yes, there are question marks over his judgement with regard to both Bassanio and Shylock. In the case of Bassanio, it would appear to be blind loyalty to his friend that leads him into the unwise loan and bond. This of course takes us to a homoerotic interpretation of his attraction to Bassanio, a route I don't really like going down without further evidence but it's hard to avoid it. Bassanio, to his credit, seems alive to the danger (though probably without fully realizing what Shylock is planning) and cautions Antonio against the bond but by this stage Antonio's judgement is clouded both by his determination to help Bassanio and his anger - antisemitic anger, I would say - against Shylock, perhaps mixed with the humiliation, as he sees it, of having to accept Shylock's help, and he walks blindly into the trap.
The plays on the words 'kind' and 'kindness' are important here too, as you mention, but as I don't have the space to add my own comments on them, I hope some else can answer that part of the question. They are probably adequately dealt with in your text notes anyway.