Antonio and Bassanio
Antonio and Bassanio are mainly presented as a pair throughout the play. Their relationship, reaction of other characters towards them, thoughts and feeling they express are significant factors that contribute to answering the question. In the preformed version of Michael Radford Merchant of Venice there is a strong depiction of homosexuality, which is his own analysis of their relationship. This could alter the audience’s view on the play, as this theme is noticeable and quite obvious. There are various themes that go on from beginning to end of the play one of which is the law in Venice.
This scene shows how anxious Bassanio is about Antonio losing his pound of flesh to shylock. In the preformed version you could see Bassanio with a close up shot to show emotion trembling as he sees his friend Bassanio about to be stripped of his flesh over a problem with money that he caused. This makes him feel guilt and he is only goal is to get Antonio out of the dilemma, which shows they have a strong relationship between each other. Another key theme in this play is the hatred of Jews by the Christians in Venice.
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In the movie Shylock was completely embarrassed by Antonio in public as he spat at his face, which was Michael Radford’s own reading of the play. The main reason Antonio does this is to demonstrate to people around he has no respect for Jews. This was the common in the society of Venice as the majority of the population there was Christian and the two religions often clashed in religious believe. This is significant because at this point Shylock has lost all respect for Antonio and anyone associated with him.
We feel sympathy for Shylock since he did no wrong, the way in which he acts towards Antonio and Bassanio is without mercy as mentioned before in the court scene. In scene one Antonio is at his house waiting anxiously for the arrival of Bassanio we can tell this as Salerio says, “your mind is tossing on the ocean”. This could suggest two things; firstly he is referring to Antonio’s investment of ship, which is a running theme for the duration of the play. Secondly this could mean he is unsteady like the ocean and is nervous regarding the arrival of Bassanio.
In the preformed version Michael Radford starts with a panning shot to show all the characters in the seen, Antonio is looking out the window and not really focusing on the conversation he is meant to be having with Salerio and Solanio. The next most significant thing is the fact that when he sees Bassanio about to arrive Antonio has a sudden mood change. Solanio says, ”Why then, you are in love” this shows the reaction towards Antonio and Bassanio because Antonio replies with “Fie, fie! which could be evidence for him being embarrassed of his relationship with Bassanio since it might be homosexual. In the preformed version Antonio raises his voice when he replies which means he could be trying to cover up his feelings for Bassanio. He doesn’t seem to want anyone to know about this and completely dismisses the idea that he likes Bassanio as Solanio tries to imply this idea. When Bassanio finally arrives he runs up the stair as he is in a hurry when he really isn’t. This demonstrates that he is excited to see Antonio, which shows there relationship is strong.
Bassanio runs up the stairs and has a rushed conversation with Salerio which also indicates he is in a hurry to meet Antonio. Solanio says “we leave you now in better company”. This quote shows that Solanio respects them since he doesn’t want to intrude on there meeting. Also it shows they are superior to him and he doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. Gratiano is left there with Antonio and Bassanio and in the film Bassanio throws a glove at Gratiano and this prompts him to leave, as they want their privacy.
An Important action that occurs in this scene is the kiss between Antonio and Bassanio. Michael Radford chose this to be in his film as he felt there could be a homosexual side to this play written by William Shakespeare. The director uses a close up to show the intimate moment they both share. They express their love for each other with this kiss. This wasn’t something they wanted people to know which is why they were in a room where no one else was as well as they had everyone go away so they could have their privacy.
This is probably why Antonio overreacted when Solanio says that they might be in love. Also In this scene Bassanio and Antonio are in a Bedroom, which in its self adds an underlying effect of homosexuality to the scene. They soon both get onto the bed and start to talk; this could symbolise that they are really comfortable around each other or that they are gay. This is evidence that they have a really strong relationship since they can feel relaxed around each other. Also they are talking about marriage but only focusing on money which is why they start talking about Portia.
Bassanio wants to marry Portia for her status and money not really for love furthermore this make them sound really superficial and Antonio encourages the idea. The fact that Bassanio needed money and Antonio was willing to supply him with money even though he had non-at the time reveals another aspect if there relationship, from this it shows trust and love to the audience. Antonio didn’t have to go out of his way to do this for Bassanio plus Bassanio says, “I owe the most in money and in love” Which means Bassanio owed him money from before and Antonio didn’t really care.
Also you could say that this quote is bringing up the idea that there is gay relationship taking place. You never expect family or friends to repay you back if you really care about them so this suggests Antonio regards Bassanio as family or as a really close friend. To conclude the society in Venice is represented by these two characters Antonio and Bassanio. They give us an insight into what actually goes on in this society. The homosexuality is Michael Radford’s interpretation of these two characters.
They share a special bond but they can be depicted as superficial for example the only look to marry for money and status. The first impression we get of Antonio at the start of the play is him being a depressed character but as soon as the arrival of Bassanio happens he turns into a man that is with great power and high status in Venice. The whole time during the play the two are nearly always shown together which is an underlying factor, which makes Antonio and Bassanio have a special relationship that is unique to any other pair of characters in the merchant of Venice.