Generosity in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice"

Essay by melikekk March 2005

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In William Shakespeare's play called The Merchant of Venice, the antagonist of the play is Shylock, a wealthy Jewish moneylender. He is probably the most memorable character in the play because of Shakespeare's excellent characterization of him. He is depicted as a greedy man and he is obsessed with money. Another important character is Bassanio, he tries to borrow money from his close friend, Antonio, in order to marry a wealthy heiress, Portia. He also has emphasis on materialistic entities like, outward beauty and wealth. Therefore, the play is mostly surrounds around materialistic issues and money. On purpose Shakespeare creates his characters according to this issue, for instance, Shylock is the moneylender, Antonio is the merchant and Portia is the wealthy heiress. In this respect, Venice is a suitable place where monetary issues are on the agenda, so William Shakespeare deliberately chose this place in order to show the meaning of being generous and merciful.

These are the essential features of humanity which lose their meaning day by day. For this reason in this paper the concept of generosity will be explored and its development will be analyzed throughout the play called The Merchant of Venice.

In the first scene Antonio displays the nature of love and friendsip he feels for Bassanio. He is a close friend of Bassanio and he is prepared to do everything he could do for his beloved friend. "My purse, my person, my extremest means lie all unlocked to your occasions." The generosity of a friend is portrayed by Shakespeare.

Moreover, the generous merchant, Antonio lends out money to people with no interest; therefore this makes him more popular among Venetians. On the other hand, Shylock, the Jewish moneylender lends out money to people with interest. It should be noticed that Antonio has...