The Merchant of Venice Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton Shakespeare edition.
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 esteemed above thy life.
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you.
Your wife would give you little thanks for that
If she were by, to hear you make the offer. (4.1.294-301)
Bassanio seems to choose friendship over love here. Maybe it's because he thinks his friend is about to die, or maybe it's because he just married for money. Either way, Portia (disguised here as Balthazar) knows exactly where she stands, but she resolves to do something about it. Keep reading...
My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.
Let his deservings and my love withal
Be valued 'gainst your wife's commandment. (4.1.467-469)
Here Antonio convinces his BFF to give "Balthazar" Portia's ring. Not knowing that Portia has just saved his backside, Antonio still insists that his friendship be valued over her love. It's like he's jockeying with her for the primary spot in Bassanio's heart. Seriously, he just nagged Bassanio into giving up the equivalent of his wedding ring!
But this completely backfires for Antonio, because Portia later confronts her husband about giving up the love token and guilt-trips him into being a better husband. You can read more about this ring business in "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory."