Merchant Of Venice Character Analysis

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Margaret Reed Mr. Breite The Mirror Up to Nature 21 October 2014 The Personalities Behind the Caskets In the Merchant of Venice, Portia has a lottery for which suitor she must marry based off her fathers will that he left her. Due to Portia’s wealth, good locks, and reputation, many suitors come to woo her. The major theme of choice is played in the scene of the caskets. There is a gold, silver, and lead casket with one that has a picture of Portia, which equals her hand in marriage. Unlike the other trials faced in the play, the idea of choosing the caskets reveals the suitor’s good judgment and wisdom; it not based on their wealth or appearance like the rest of the play is. The gold casket symbolizes someone who is superficial and takes…show more content…
In the play Antonio risks his money for his friend Bassanio to go find his true love. Antonio is a risk taker just as choosing the lead casket is for the Princes. The lead casket has an external appearance of worthlessness because the other caskets are worth more. Just as the other caskets have a saying on the outside, the lead casket says, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath” (Shakespeare 2.7.11-12). The message on the front gives no thought of reward. It is asking the person to sacrifice all they have. The gold and silver casket tells the Prince he will gain something. As for the lead, he looses something, so there is a double meaning/irony in it because ultimately the lead casket leads to Portia. Secondly, the lead casket is a symbol of inner beauty of a picture of modesty; Antonio reflects both of these…show more content…
But both play a major role in the play, just as the caskets do. For example, Antonio portrays himself as a loyal friend as he honors Bassanio with the deal he makes with him. But Antonio treats Shylock as if he is lower than him. Antonio says, “I am as like to call thee so again, / To spet on thee again, to spurn thee, too” (Shakespeare 1.3.140-141). The tone in this quote is harsh and shows the hate Antonio has for Shylock. But Antonio is not the only hateful one; Shylock is asking for a pound of Antonio’s flesh because Antonio needed money from him: “Be nominated for an equal pound/ Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken/ In what part your body pleaseth me” (Shakespeare 1.3.161-163). The word choice in this quote represents the morals that Shylock has. He wants to do whatever “pleaseth” him; the gold casket is there to deceive the greedy people. As well, the characteristic of the lead casket is shown through Antonio here because he is sacrificing what he has, a pound of his own flesh. Antonio’s actions build up throughout the play to foreshadow the lead casket. Just as Shylocks actions play a part in how he is represented with the gold

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