Bassanio: To you, Antonio, I owe the most, in money and in love

Merchant of Venice (10)

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

Bassanio: To you, Antonio,
I owe the most, in money and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburden all my plots and purposes
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

Antonio: I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;


(i) Describe Antonio’s mood at the beginning of this scene.

Antonio’s mood: sad / despondent / gloomy / depressed / melancholic/ weary of the world

State any two reasons that Antonio’s friends, who were present, gave to explain his mood.

  • Salario and Salario say that Antonio’s mind is on his rich merchant ships / tossing on the ocean
  • Antonio was concerned / worried about possible misfortunes - Fear of tempests / mudflats / dangerous rocks that could wreck his ships
  • A must be in love
  • Not happy because he was sad
  • A deliberately wants to appear wise / grave / philosophical

(ii) What promise did Antonio make to Bassanio immediately after this conversation?

  • His ‘purse’ (wealth) / unlock wealth / resources
  • His ‘person’ (himself)
  • His ‘extremest means’ (every last resource in his possession)
  • Extend every help he could (to help Bassanio as long as Bassanio’s plans were as honourable as he himself was)

(iii) What did Bassanio say to Antonio about ‘a lady richly left’ in Belmont?

  • The ‘lady richly left’ in Belmont is described by Bassanio as:
  • Beautiful (fair / fairer than the word)
  • Virtuous (of wondrous virtues)
  • Called Portia
  • He had received ‘fair speechless messages’ sometimes from her eyes
  • Her worth and fame attracted renowned suitors

He compares her to the golden fleece and her suitors to Jason(s) from Classical mythology.

  • Sunny locks
  • Not inferior to Portia - Cato’s daughter/ Brutus’ wife
  • The world is not ignorant of her worth

(iv) Why was Antonio unable to lend Bassanio the money that he needed?

  • All his ‘fortunes were at sea’ (invested in his many merchant ships)
  • Antonio has no money
  • Has nothing of value (commodity) which he could sell to raise the money needed

How did he propose to help his friend?

Antonio proposes

  • that both he and Bassanio should make enquiries among the wealthy merchants
  • to see if they can borrow the money - (try what my credit in Venice can do)

(v) What does the above extract reveal of the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio?

  • Shows that Antonio and Bassanio were very good friends
  • That Bassanio has always relied on Antonio both for financial (money) as well as emotional (love) support.
  • Bassanio is assured of Antonio’s love and care. Confides all his plans in him - clear all his debts with Antonio’s help.
  • Bassanio exploits Antonio’s love/ trust

Mention one way in which this relationship was put to the test later in the play.

  • When Shylock demands his pound of flesh and Antonio is willing to sacrifice his life for Bassanio.
  • When Bassanio receives Antonio’s letter in Belmont, he is willing to drop everything - go to Venice.
  • When Bassanio agrees to give away the wedding ring given to him by Portia - and sacrifice his love (Portia) for Antonio.