William Shakespeare 's Merchant Of Venice Essay

2286 Words Sep 30th, 2016 10 Pages
Antonio and Bassanio seemingly share the ideal friendship where one is completely willing to lay his life on the line for the other. However, one must consider whether that level of devotion is truly normative to friendship, or if there was something more motivating Antonio throughout Merchant of Venice. Likewise, Bassanio’s role in the friendship and the depths of his platonic love come into question when the sincerity of his words come into doubt. While on the surface it seems that Bassanio and Antonio share a great friendship, closer examination questions if each individual harbors something more than platonic love. To understand Bassanio and Antonio’s relationship in its entirety, one must understand what the ideals of platonic love, of a perfect friendship, were, as defined in Shakespeare’s times. Thomas Elyot holds that true friends have neither “covetousness, wilfulness [sic], or foolhardiness” between them (Elyot 105). Nothing comes between true friends. In addition, there is not only a selfishness, but an elevation of the other, where one’s friend takes higher priority. It is “beneficence… mutually putting to their study and help in necessary affairs” that brings about love (Elyot 105). The true friend is the one that not only “withold[s] or hide[s] nothing from them whom they love,” but also “more rejoiceth in his friend’s good fortune” rather “than at his own” (Elyot 106, 107). Emphasized again and again by Shakespeare’s contemporary is the idea of putting the…

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