Comparison of Belmont and Venice

Wrote this for some English coursework, but people may find it helpful when revising similarities and differences of Belmont and Venice.

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  • Created on: 22-05-10 14:49
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Ed Hirst 11TKS 1
English Coursework: The Merchant of Venice
The two settings of Belmont and Venice seem worlds apart. Is
this true?
The Merchant of Venice is a play which uses themes and the contrast between these
themes to great effect. Situated across two main settings, it first appears that
Belmont and Venice are extremely different places. However, despite their initial,
apparent differences, as the play develops it becomes clearer that Belmont and
Venice may be more similar as to how they may have first been perceived. We
discover this as the varying themes, such as money, relationships, deception, religion
and so on develop to become strongly interlinked between Venice and Belmont.
Money is probably the aspect which dominates, and it is a topic which is introduced
right from the title, with a trader being one of the main characters, and the
namesake of the play. In fact, right from the first scene, Antonio, (`the merchant of
Venice') is asked a great favour by his friend, Bassanio in the form of a loan. Bassanio
needs this loan as he has been careless with his own assets, just as he admits in
`'Tis not unknown to you Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port,
Than my faint means would grant continuance.'
Throughout the play it seems that money is the biggest motivator. We see this at
the start of the play, whilst Bassanio is describing Portia to Antonio, and the first
piece of information that he provides is that Portia is `a lady richly left' and only
following this does he mention that `she is fair, and ­ fairer than that word ­ of
wondrous virtues.' Straight away we see that wealth is more important than her
beauty and virtues. From this we can also see how the possibility of gaining even
more riches by marrying into Belmont is a big enough motive for Bassanio to see it
worthwhile to increase his debts further to Antonio so as to have a bigger chance of
winning Portia's heart as well as her riches. It is interesting however, that it would be

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unlikely that an audience would think less of Bassanio for rating Portia's wealth above
her virtues, especially when Shylock does something similar in relation to Jessica, and
she is clearly being made to appear victimised. When Jessica goes missing it appears
that Shylock is more concerned about the money that Jessica took from him than
the fact that she has run away.…read more

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there is an incredible abundance of money, it seems that Portia's father was trying to
show that the biggest commodity in Belmont is Portia herself, rather than the riches
she possesses. This is why Morocco makes the wrong choice of casket, as it is his
arrogance and perception of the gold casket being most valuable, and therefore its
supposed reflection of Portia's `value' that leads him to be fooled and mislead.…read more

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`Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem'd above thy life.
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you.'
From this quote, it is clear that the love and respect between Antonio and Bassanio
is mutual, even if it appears not to be.…read more

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pound of flesh, which Shylock is clearly intending to receive; something a real friend
would never intend. However, it is not so much that relationships between Jew and
Christian simply cannot form, but more that they cannot exist in Venice. We see
Jessica's and Lorenzo's relationships begin to form in Venice, through the window of
Shylock's house.…read more

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port, and the debt was not repaid in time, Shylock is desperate for his bond to be
realised. But perhaps it is due to Antonio's mistreatment of Shylock following the
sealing of the bond that causes Shylock to be so keen to enforce the forfeit. When
Shylock discovers that Jessica has run away from him, and that Antonio along with
others knew, Shylock becomes extremely angry.…read more

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free from Belmont aside from the caskets. Although the action is not actually carried
out in Belmont itself, it is here that Nerissa and Portia plan their elaborate scheme to
allow Antonio to be free of the forfeit of the bond. Following this, they travel to
Venice, again, just like Jessica, disguised as men, so as to be the young yet
knowledgeable solicitor, Balthazar, and his clerk.…read more

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` What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me?'
It is difficult to say exactly what Portia and Nerissa gain from this bestial test, but
regardless of this it does show Venice and Belmont to have some quite strong ties
in the theme of deception. However, one must keep in mind that although there is
deception within and from both settings, the intentions are different.…read more


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