The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice Marriage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton Shakespeare edition.
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted. But now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours- my lord's. I give them with this ring,
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you. (3.2.7)
According to Portia, marriage is about a woman giving over herself (and all her money and property) to a partner. This is what she does here when she gives Bassanio "this house, these servants" and a ring. (In the 16th century, when a man married a woman, she automatically became his property and legal responsibility.) At the same time, Portia is also being pretty crafty here. Because she gives him more than he can possibly give her in return, Portia binds Bassanio to her. Check out what we have to say about Portia's ring in "Symbols" for more on this.
First go with me to church and call me wife,
And then away to Venice to your friend;
For never shall you lie by Portia's side
With an unquiet soul. (3.2.13)
Portia's a clever girl. She knows Bassanio is going to leave her to help his BFF, but she insists that they get hitched first. This way she seals Bassanio to her. When he goes to Antonio, he'll go as her husband, not merely as Antonio's friend.
My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that you can wish,
For I am sure you can wish none from me;
And, when your honours mean to solemnize
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
Even at that time I may be married too. (3.2.1)
Graziano's marriage to Nerissa is a calculating, unornamented version of the institution that is actually a neat parallel to Bassanio and Portia's hookup. Graziano says as much when he declares that he and Bassanio are the "Jasons" who have "won the fleece" (3.2.6).