Bassanio in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is the central instigator of all the follows and he not the most steady young man in Venice. He has considerable bad qualities but he also has considerable good qualities, although the good ones may not be of a nature that they can...
Bassanio in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is the central instigator of all the follows and he not the most steady young man in Venice. He has considerable bad qualities but he also has considerable good qualities, although the good ones may not be of a nature that they can counterbalance the bad.
First, Bassanio is a reckless youth with no wisdom or thought for the future. He has spent whatever fortune he had instead of living within the scope of his financial means. He hasn't learned from anything that has transpired before the play opens that may have contributed to the loss of all his financial resources. We know this because he is staking his chance of recouping his lost fortune on a gamble that he will be the one to choose the right casket (a small chest or box for valuables) that will win the hand of the heiress Portia in a strange matrimonial test set up by her late father.
In these dire straits--no money; in love with a rich girl who is guarded in marriage by a casket-selecting contest--he pleads with his devoted friend Antonio to loan him money with which he can put on a show, a pretense, of wealth to impress the fair Portia. There is nothing reckless in turning to ask a friend for help, but when the friend is in tight financial straits himself it does appear reckless to press the point of a loan. To cap the picture of recklessness with an added image of arrogant audacity or blind impetuosity, Bassanio stands by while Antonio unrealistically agrees to impossible terms on a loan that is secured on a wish and a prayer instead of on material reality--as far he knows, Antonio's ship has a 50/50 percent chance of getting safely back into harbor.
What about Bassanio's good qualities? He has the energy and enthusiasm of youth. He is devoted in his admiration for Portia. He is a staunch and loyal friend. His friendship for Antonio goes beyond loyalty when he offers to take Antonio's place in the court hearing over the unfulfilled repayment of the loan taken from Shylock. Bassanio offers his own hand, head or heart in place of the pound of flesh that is due to Shylock to be cut from Antonio.
So in opposition to his bad qualities, Bassanio offers true friendship; true loyalty; true love; true devotion. It is debatable as to whether these highly laudable qualities counterbalance impetuosity, imprudence, immoderation; extravagance of idea and living; and frivolity. If these bad traits are nothing more than the scourge of youth, Bassanio has the makings of an admirable man. If, on the other hand, these qualities are character and personality traits, then pity Portia and Antonio (who isn't all that wise himself).