incident, even Shylock realizes this, bemoaning the loss of a ring that his late wife gave him, and insinuating that it was worth more than money. Despite this, Shylock appears indifferent at best to his daughter, showing no signs of the love between parent and child. Coldly, the man even wished for his daughter’s death if it meant the return of his jewels. Various types of love feature in The Merchant of Venice, but Shakespeare depicts male friendship as the strongest through the use of archetypes, rhetorical appeals, and literary devices.
To begin, a plethora of archetypes surface over the course of the play. Several, such as Launcelot as the fool and Shylock as the tyrant help with characterization. But other archetypes possess a more profound role- Shakespeare utilizes these to support his views on the nature of love. In fact, some archetypes depicted facilitate the depiction of strong male friendship. For example, Shakespeare portrays Antonio as the damsel in distress; “all debts are cleared between you and I if I might but see you at my death” (III.ii.317-318). In this incident when Bassanio rushes to the courthouse with money in an attempt to save his friend’s life, the younger man acts as a knight in shining armour, coming to rescue the tense damsel. In the process, Bassani...
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..., and materialism, Bassanio and Antonio stand as the exemplar. Clearly, Bassanio and Portia cannot compete, when her husband loves his friend more. And nor can Shylock and Jessica win the title of strongest love, considering the Jew wished to see his daughter dead at his feet. Finally, despite Shylock’s intense love of money, nothing can contend with the strong bond of the title character and Bassanio. Through the bickering of the married couples, the outright rancor between family members, and Shylock’s severe downfall due to greed, Shakespeare delivers a powerful message about the nature of love. Despite the papers one must sign for a marriage, despite the genetic ties, and despite the security and indulgence money can bring, the only people one can truly count are close friends. In essence, one should love the family one chooses- the people who love them back most.
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