Could you provide some examples of the theme of love for money and wealth in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare?

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shakespeareguru's profile pic

shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

The play's title is a good place to begin.  For a playwright that named plays Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, etc., identifying a character by their job rather than their name signifies how important this occupation, being a merchant, is to the play.

And though his loss of fortune begins the events of the play, it is probably not Antonio that is the most obvious example of love of money.  That would probably, rather, be the play's comic villain, Shylock.  The most famous way that Shylock exhibits how pervasive his love of money is, is when he discusses his daughter's elopement in Act III, Scene i.  He asks Tubal for news of his daughter, but can only lament the money and jewels that he lost because she took them when she fled.

A diamond gone, cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfort!...I never felt it till now:  two thousand ducats in that; and other precious, precious jewels.  I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear!  Would she were hearsed at my foot and the ducats in her coffin!

And he goes on in this vein.  Clearly a father grieving more for his lost fortune than for his lost daughter exhibits a consuming love of money.

 

shaketeach's profile pic

shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Renaissance Venice was a wealthy city due to trade.  Men like Antonio could and did become extremely rich with a fleet of ships trading with the east.

Men like Shylock, a Jew, however could only become rich as money lenders or early bankers, since lending money was considered unchristian, therefore Christians left money lending to Jews who where considered second class citizens.

Portia's father wisely protected his daughter against unworthy men seeking to gain her fortune through marriage.  She is referred to as the Golden Fleece.  We only begin to realize her wealth in Act IV, scene 1, when she offers Shylock three times the amount of the loan which is a staggering amount of money.  If Shylock loved only money, why not take the money and run?  The answer is quite simple, he had made a pact with god.

Does Bassanio love Portia for her wealth or for herself?  One would hope that Portia is a good judge of character in choosing Bassanio and make no mistake, she chooses him.  OK, so he failed the ring test, but you must admit he does resist the charming and brilliant young lawyer.

Wealth and love of money do play an important part in the play but remember, "All that glisters is not gold."

ntibane's profile pic

ntibane | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

I can't seem to identify what you want to say in this respect because you don't make it clear as to whether you are asking something of stating for discussion.

But yes. The theme of money is highly displayed in a merchant of Venice. This is when Shylock places love of money over human life. He would rather have Antonio's flesh than to loose his money. Much rather, he wouldn't have lost his money, but he would have only received it later that he expected. At another height I would say that hatred and discrimination on religious grounds rules the play throughoutly. It's  been so long since I last read this book but hey, I think these are the still applicable facts to your supposed statement/question.

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