The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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What do you think of Shakespeare's opinion of courtship and marriage, as expressed in The Merchant of Venice?

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We do not know much about Shakespeare for certain, so we need to tread lightly when we consider his "opinions". However, we can consider the ideas that are expressed within the play; just be careful not to attribute them to Shakespeare himself.

The Merchant of Venice explores the trials and tribulations of courtship. Bassanio must initially prove he is a worthy suitor for Portia through material means, Portia and Nerissa toy with and manipulate their men in order to test their love, Bassanio publicly announces he would give up his wife if it would save Antonio, and Jessica must reject her religion for love. While Shakespeare does add twists of humor to each of these circumstances, his focus appears to be on the difficulties and obstacles one must face for the sake of romance.

However, given that the play appears to end happily (in terms of the marriage/courtship plots) Shakespeare may be suggesting that all of these obstacles are worth it in the name of love.

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