A Theme Of Greed In The Merchant Of Venice

The Merchant of Venice was believed to be written in either 1596 or 1597 by one of the most significant and influential writers, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest English writer in history. his category of brilliance shows in his 37 plays and over 150 sonnets. The merchant of Venice includes themes of justice, love, hatred, money and greed. All these genres get shown throughout the play from when Antonio borrows money from a Jewish money lender named Shylock, but only to look rich in front of the wealthy heiress from Belmont; Portia. Characters in the Merchant of Venice throughout the play reveal quite a tremendous amount of greed within their actions and decision making. The cause of this greediness creates conflicts either about wealth, power, love and intense selfish desire.

Throughout act I, Scene 1 Bassanio has the intention to marry the wealthy Portia, yet only to become and look rich as he knows Portia’s wealthiness and fortune. This argument shows the selfish desire Bassanio has as he just wants more money for himself. Shakespeare makes it clear that Bassanio’s desire to marry Portia is primarily her money. “in Belmont is a lady richly left” is his first words to describe the lady he wants to marry. ‘Richly left’ is another way to say she has inherited wealth, this shows Bassanio is eager to share about her wealth more than the love he shares.

Bassanio then goes on to share “her sunny locks hang on her temples like a golden fleece” traditionally ‘golden fleece’ means a fabulous treasure. A repetition of words is shown when Bassanio explains Portia to Antonio. Some words are always mistaken like he is thinking about money more than love. Nevertheless, romance is described in Bassanio’s lines however, it becomes clear for the audience that Bassanio’s attraction to Portia is somewhat less romantic and in a wealthier thought way.

During act II, scene 6 Jessica (Shylocks daughter) and Lorenza secretly plan to run away and steal her father’s money and jewels to take with them. Jessica has a strong hate for her father’s house and so she runs away ravenously and takes a total of eighty ducats. Later in the play, Tubal tells Shylock that Jessica spent eighty ducats in one-night gambling and on a monkey to get revenge. Whilst Jessica and Lorenzo are taking Shylocks money, Jessica makes the statement “Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains, I am glad tis night – you do look on me – for I am ashamed of my exchange” at this time Jessica throws down a casket to Lorenzo, the casket contains some of Shylocks treasures and she wears some treasure on her body. It is understandable that some audience feel as though Jessica shouldn’t be treated like the way she is from Shylock, but it’s very cruel and greedy for Jessica to steal so much money and spend it on gambling and a monkey.

Following from the talk of Shylock, it is no doubt that his greed outweighs his love for his own daughter, Jessica. When shylock hears the news about his money, he uses the words, “I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear!” at this time it is obvious how Shylock is more worried about his ducats more than his own daughter. Shylock does have a right to be mad as his daughter stole all his money and spent it on a monkey and gambling. However, the way he responded revealed the true side of Shylock which is the love he has for money can easily overcome his love for his own child.

Through to the ending of the Merchant of Venice, many people debate weather greed is a main factor throughout the play. Yet, it became quite clear how intense the self-interest is within the traits of the characters. You can see this within the play by how Bassanio hopes to become rich by marry a wealthy lady, Portia. Jessica taking money and jewellery from her father shylock, while spending it so childishly. And lastly, how Shylock exposes such a hateful nature because of Jessica spending all his money. From these influences its discernible that greed becomes quite an overpowering theme in the Merchant of Venice. 

16 August 2021
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