The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton Shakespeare edition.
There are some shrewd contents in yond same paper
That steals the colour from Bassanio's cheek:
Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man. (3.2.10)
Portia's love is going to be in competition with Antonio's friendship. Still, this thought shows that Portia understands the importance of a bosom buddy. She knows she's not the only one in Bassanio's life, even if she is going to be his wife.
[Reads] 'Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried,
my creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to the
Jew is forfeit; and since, in paying it, it is impossible I
should live, all debts are clear'd between you and I, if I might
but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your pleasure; if
your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter.' (3.2.16)
It seems that Antonio is testing Bassanio's love here, basically pitting his love for Antonio against his new love for Portia. Antonio is making a great sacrifice and wants some credit for it, especially if it will make him appear more noble and committed to Bassanio than Portia is.
I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now; for in companions
That do converse and waste the time together,
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
There must be needs a like proportion
Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit,
Which makes me think that this Antonio,
Being the bosom lover of my lord,
Must needs be like my lord. (3.4.1)
Portia recognizes the depth of the friendship between Antonio and Bassanio. Rather than resent it, she inserts herself into the situation. She won't fight Antonio; she'll actually help him. In the process, Antonio will go from being a competitor to being in her debt. What's more, Portia will come off as benevolent and magnanimous.