William Shakespeare

Besides tragedy and comedy, are love and romance included in The Merchant of Venice? Does it include the friendship-type love, or is it also shown romantically? In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare focuses on the overall main theme of love—in terms of friendship, and romance. The Merchant of Venice is one of the most powerful—and most controversial—comedies of all Shakespeare's plays. (Also, the least understood). William Shakespeare uses love as his main theme. . . in terms of friendship, and romance. Shakespeare's uses of love can be among these three examples. First, Bassanio and Antonio show love towards each other with their strong friendship. Their love towards each other is closer than anyone else's in the play. Also, Jessica and Lorenzo show love for each other romantically, (for Jessica even betrayed her own father for the love of her life). And Portia and Bassanio show love romantically, as they discuss their feelings for each other throughout the play.

Shakespeare's use of love regarding true friendship includes the love of Antonio and Bassanio. In Act one, Scene one, Bassanio clearly tells Antonio he loves him with his meaningful words: "To you Antonio, / I owe the most in money and in love, / And from your love I have a warranty / to unburthen all my plots and purposes/ How to get a clear of all the debts I owe." (Shakespeare, I.i.130-134). Throughout the play, Antonio has been very generous to Bassanio. Bassanio makes it explicit that not only does he owe Antonio money—but he owes him love. Antonio shows his love for Bassanio a bit earlier in the play. He says, "Well, tell me now what lady is the same / to whom you swore a secret pilgrimage, / That you to-day promis'd to tell me of?" (Shakespeare, I.i.119-121). Bassanio's love life is the very first thing Antonio brings up when they're alone at the beginning of the play. Bassanio's new courtship seems to make Antonio sad. Antonio clearly cares deeply about his friend, but he's facing the fact that he might lose him to his woman. This always seems to be on the forefront of Antonio's mind and only a true friend would care so much. Bassanio and Antonio both show strong emotions toward each other with their true friendship and their forever lasting love.

Shakespeare's use of love in terms of romance includes the love of Jessica and Lorenzo. First, Jessica tells Lorenzo she loves him, although when they first meet she doesn't recognize him.Once Lorenzo reassures to her that it's him, she finally recognizes him as her love and starts to tell him how much she loves him. "Lorenzo, certain, and my love indeed, / For who do I love so much? And now who knows / But you, Lorenzo, weather I am yours?" (II.iv.29-31). Lorenzo also shows his love for Jessica when he says, "Beshrow me but I love her heartily, / For she is wise, if I can judge of her, / And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, / And true she is, as she hath prov'd herself; / And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true, / Shall she be placed in my constant soul." (II.iv.52-57). Lorenzo says he loves Jessica because she is wise, fair, and true.... even though she happens to be a Jew. In The Merchant of Venice, there seems to be a major conflict between the seemingly rival religions. . . Judaism and Christianity. Jessica is a Jew, while Lorenzo is Christian, yet the love connection they have between each other is unbreakable.

In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare also uses the theme of love in terms of romance with the love of Portia and Bassanio. First, Bassanio is choosing among the three caskets of gold, silver, and lead, and he soon chooses the correct one. Bassanio's correct choice of the caskets (lead), overwhelms Portia. She suddenly wishes she had more of everything to share with Bassanio. "This house, these servants and this same myself / Are yours, my lord: I give them with this ring." (III.ii.171-172). She willingly shares all she owns with Bassanio. She also shows her love towards him when she says, "...yet for you, / I would be trembled twenty times myself, / A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich." (III.ii.153-154). Portia says she will go through the trouble of making herself look fairer, and richer just for the love of Bassanio.

Overall, the main theme being love in The Merchant of Venice—romantically and friendship-wise—are often used throughout the play between the characters to show the love of: Antonio and Bassanio (their friendship), Jessica and Lorenzo, and Portia and Bassanio (in terms of romance). The play also demonstrates that the apparent purity of love and friendship can be tainted by selfish economic concerns. In addition, love and friendship are also at the mercy of the law, (as seen in Portia's being subject to the terms of her father's riddle of the caskets).