Shakespeare considers “The Merchant Of Venice ” to be a comedy but a modern audience considers it as a tragic comedy. The audience in Shakespeare’s times would consider it as a comedy because being rude against the Jews were acceptable during those times. A modern audience would n’t consider this funny as racism and antisemitism are not acceptable in today’ times. The main characters in this play are Shylock, Bassanio, and Antonio. Antonio is considered as a wealthy merchant who lends and borrows without interest and is also a good friend. Shylock is considered as a greedy Jewish Moneylender. Bassanio is considered as a spoilt person who spends his money lavishly.
Help basically means to serve someone. In this play, we see that Antonio helps most of his friends either by cash or by pleasing them. In act 1 scene 1 he tells Bassanio that all his money’s tied up in that cargo that’s still at sea. Antonio can’t give Bassanio the cash he needs because he doesn’t’ t have it. He tells him that he can ask anyone in Venice for the money and that he can take the money in Antonio’s name. He also helps most of the people in Venice by borrowing or lending the money without interest, but for his friend, Bassanio he borrows money from Shylock with interest. Shylock, on the other hand, doesn’t help anyone as he is the one who believes in the give and takes policy. He only helps Antonio because he wants to feed his revenge by extracting a pound of flesh from his body if he couldn’t pay back the loan. Shylock also doesn’t help Launcelot. Shylock doesn’t give him the food or treat him properly.
Antonio was a highly reputed man. He was respected by all people of all ages except the Jews as he was anti-semitic. He had many friends and most of them were like family to him. He had fame because he was a Christian and so he did what a Christian did. He also did not lend or borrow money with interest and by doing this he helped many people. Shylock wasn’t very reputed. In fact, most of the people hated him as he treated most of the people in a cruel manner. Launcelot hates him because he felt that Shylock’s treatment towards him was bad and so that is why he called him the devil incarnate. He also was very greedy for money and so he only loved his ducats. Since he was too materialistic he didn’t have many friends.
However, they both have a lot of similarities.
1. They have both lost something in life
Antonio lost Bassanio, who has gone to win Portia. Shylock lost his daughter, Jessica, who eloped with a Christian. So Shylock is furious over this. Shylock lost his money and his daughter. These were the things Shylock liked. He didn’t have many friends because he was a Jew. This is why he only cared for his ducats and his daughter. Antonio loved Bassanio a lot as he was the only friend who spent quality time with him and understood him. He always gave him the money when required and didn’t ask for the money to be repaid. When Bassanio was leaving for Belmont to meet and win Portia, Antonio was sad and was trying to hide his tears as he was going to miss him. He thought it was the last time he was going to see him and he is going to lose him forever. Antonio also lost all of his ships which were going to give him more than thrice the amount shylock lent him.
Even though they are considered different, they hate each other which is another similarity. Shylock hates Antonio because he docent borrows or lend money with interest, so this brings down the rates in Venice. This irritates him a lot because he loves money and is greedy for it, so if the rates of Venice fall it affects him also. Shylock also hates Antonio for his racist and cruel behavior towards shylock. Antonio has mocked Shylock in front of everyone about his money lending ways. He reminds Antonio of three things which Antonio did to him which insulted and hurt him a lot. Antonio called him a heathen, a dirty dog, and he spits on his Jewish clothes, just because Shylock uses his own money to make a profit.
Antonio hates Shylock because he is a Jew. In those days people hated Jews as that was what they were taught to do. People in those days were racist and cruel. They only cared about the people in their religion. Antonio doesn’t like to borrow or lend money with interest. and this is why he hates shylock as Shylock practices this. Even when he is asking Shylock for a loan, he says that he would still abuse him in the future and spit on him as he was, is and will always be a Jew.
Almost all plays have an element of love. In this play, Antonio likes Bassanio as a friend and is always with him during times of trouble. Whenever he goes through times of crisis, Antonio was always there and supported him with money. He gave the money to Bassanio as a friend and so he didn’t ask for the money to be repaid. Although Antonio doesn’t borrow or lend money with interest, he is willing to break that principle for his friend, Bassanio who was in need of money. When Antonio Bids farewell to Bassanio who was going to Belmont to meet, win and impress her, he cries because he was going to miss Bassanio. He tried to hide his tears as he was going to miss him. He wants his friend to be happy and achieve his desires. Most of the readers think that Shylock doesn’t have any feelings, but he does. He loves his daughter, Jessica a lot. He is just trying to keep her safe. He is overprotective. He just docent want Jessica to get into a relationship with a Christian as he has faced it and thinks that Christians are too cruel and heartless. This is why he tells Jessica, in act 2 scene 5 to close the windows and doors, so as to be away from Christians. Usually, people open their hearts and sometimes even tell their plans, even if it is bad or good, to people they are comfortable and to people they can trust, this is why he opens his heart and tells her why he sent Launcelot to Bassanio and why he is going to eat with them. This tells us that he trusted his daughter. When Jessica elopes with Lorenzo She steals a turquoise ring which was given to Shylock by his wife Leah during his bachelor days and some money. When he comes to know that Jessica sold the turquoise ring for a wilderness of monkeys, He becomes disappointed as that was the only memory of his wife Leah and he would definitely not sell it for a wilderness of monkeys. This tells us that he cares, loves and misses her so much.