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Bassanio is Antonio's friend. In some production interpretations, it is suggested that Antonio harbors romantic feelings towards Antonio. Bassanio falls in love with Portia, who decides to help Antonio when he is jailed and bound by law to let Shylock extract his 'pound of flesh'. Because she wants to help Bassanio's friend, she dresses as a male lawyer, and her speech 'The quality of mercy is not strain'd' creates a message of compassion that in the end doesn't change Shylock's mind, But she does manage to prevent the killing due to a technicality in the language of the agreement that Shylock made with Antonio.
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