Please discuss the theme of friendship in The Merchant of Venice.

The theme of friendship in The Merchant of Venice is best expressed through Antonio and Bassanio's relationship. Antonio's strong feelings of affection for Bassanio motivate him to take out a loan from Shylock to help his younger friend marry, setting the play into motion. Portia and Nerissa also illustrate strong friendship.

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Friendship is a critical theme of The Merchant of Venice, one most powerfully expressed in the friendship between Antonio and Bassanio. However, what I find particular interesting about Shakespeare's treatment of friendship in this play is how he depicts it in terms of hierarchy (which is noteworthy, given that usually friendship is perceived as a relationship between equals).

I think the friendship between Antonio and Bassanio is particularly murky, however (when it comes to discussing these themes of hierarchy). On the one hand, given that Bassanio is a noble, you would think he would occupy greater social status; but do not forget that he is also depicted as financially ruined and desperate to advance his financial standings. With this in mind, the merchant Antonio and Bassanio have a patron–client relationship of sorts, with Antonio lending Bassanio money (and it is in this context that Antonio makes his agreement with Shylock , in order to provide the funds Bassanio requires). With...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1038 words.)

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