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The Merchant Of Venice Essay

2976 words - 12 pages

The Merchant of Venice is shows the dynamics of love and to what extent humans will go to show love, they will use their wealth and even be prepared to give up their life for the people they love. Both Antonio and Portia love Bassanio differently. Portia perceives Antonio’s phileo in competition with her eros, (both forms of love will be defined later) and throughout the play she is seen trying to defeat Antonio’s phileo and she does this by subjugating Antonio, firstly with her wealth, she offers to pay of his debt to Shylock three times more the amount he had bound himself, then she saves his life and finally teaching Bassanio that she can use her womanly powers to refuse him the consummating power in marriage, through the ring saga.
There are two reasons why this paper dismisses the notion of homosexuality between Antonio and Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice. First throughout the play there is no evidence that Antonio and Bassanio have had a physical intimate relationship. The reason why Bassanio wants to go to Belmont “for a lady richly left” is to have this physical intimate relationship with Portia, thus dismissing the notion that Bassanio has homoerotic feelings for Antonio. And secondly the word love can multiplicity of meaning which if not understood properly can lead one to see Bassanio and Antonio’s friendship as homoerotic. For the purpose of this discussion, we will define the word love in terms of two Greek words, both of which means love, but in two different senses. The two that are relevant to this paper are phileo and eros. Love –phileo “means to have affection (sentiment, or feeling) for. A fondness based in the heart. What the Greeks meant by Phileo love is what we normally think when say "brotherly love" (Evangelical US 1). This is the love spoken by Salanio when he reveals the depth of Antonio’s love for Bassanio “I think he loves the world of him” (II.vi.50). The other type of love is known as eros, it is what most people refer to when they announce with a smile, I'm in love. This type of love covers everything from queasy stomachs and warm fuzzy feelings to strong sensual passion” (A Short Handbook on Love) or in other words intimate romantic love. Eros is the love between Portia and Bassanio. The word love in this paper will be substituted by the words phileo and eros to emphasize the distinctions when addressing Antonio and Bassanio’s love and the love between Portia and Antonio. Even though the love between Antonio and Bassanio and Bassanio are Portia are completely different, however they are in competition with each other.
Bassanio is aware of the depth of Antonio’s phileo for him, and therefore exploits Antonio’s love in exchange for money. The depth of Antonio’s phileo is not superficial, it runs deep, which surface when he tells Bassanio “…if stand as you yourself still do/Within the eye of honour, be assur’d/My purse, my person. My extreme means/Lie all unlock’d to your occasion” (I.i.136-39). It is because of...

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