The Theme Love and Hate in Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice'
William Shakespeare wrote the play "The Merchant of Venice" during the years 1596-98. Shakespeare was not a simple dramatist but a man who presented human emotions in a subtle way. His play the Merchant of Venice covers the entire gamut of human emotions.
He writes about love, revenge, evil and friendship. The story is about, Shylock a wealthy Jew, who lends 3000 ducats to his enemy Antonio. Shakespeare creates an enticing tale. Antonio is rich, yet he is forced to borrow money from Shylock as all his money is locked up in ships which are far away. Antonio for this reason has to take a loan from Shylock as he wants to help out his friend, Bassanio. Antonia is unaware that this act could cause his death.
Shylock is one of the few characters created by Shakespeare who personifies evil. He is a malevolent and blood-thirsty old man. He is hates his enemies and has no compassions or humanity towards them. He is the opponent of Antonio, who is naive and good. Antonio is the man; who has to prepare his defense against the “devil" Shylock.
The other dominant theme of Shakespeare’s play is love. Among the various themes presented in the Merchant of Venice the most important is the nature of true love. Shakespeare presents love in all its dimensions. The friendship love is shown through Antonio towards Bassanio, romantic love is shown through Portia and Bassanio and self love is shown through Shylock.
But overall the theme of romantic love runs as an undercurrent in the play. Portia is rich but lonely and the secret to her heart is the casket. Shakespeare shows the reader how different people view true love through a variety of suitors and caskets. He also shows what is most important to the suitors and in some cases it is not true love, but material things and outward appearance.
The first suitor who tries to win Portia's hand is the Prince of Morocco. Shakespeare presents him as an arrogant man concerned with outward appearance, and not true love. Portia falls in love with Bassanio and shows her love by hinting which casket has the key to her lonely heart. Shakespeare also shows that love transcends all boundaries when the daughter of Shylock Jessica elopes with Lorenzio, a Christian.
When William Shakespeare wrote, the Merchant ff Venice, he created a female character that has a very great influence on the play. In the Merchant of Venice, Portia is a woman that saves the life of a man using her head. A similar character is Beatrice, from ‘Much Ado about Nothing’. Both of these ladies add to the main theme of the plays because of their brains, and smart remarks, as well as showering love and care.
The Merchant of Venice is a play both about love and hate. Shakespeare projects these emotions through the Jewish and Christian characters and the settings for the play, Belmont and Venice. Love and Hate are the backbone of the play and collectively they form the dominant theme.