Bassanio Merchant of Venice | Merchant of Venice Characters Bassanio
Character Sketch of Bassanio in Merchant of Venice
- a young Venetian of noble rank
- first impression bad—rash, selfish, extravagant
- proves to be a sincere friend
- a true lover
- kind-hearted and generous
- practical and worldly-wise
Bassanio – A Young Venetian
Bassanio is the hero of the casket story. A young Venetian of noble rank, his friends hold him in high esteem. But critics see him in different light. His first impression is definitely bad. He comes out to be a rash, selfish and an extravagant fellow. His friendship with Antonio is sincere but it is based on selfishness. The prime reason of his going to Belmont to marry Portia is to become wealthy so that he can pay back his debts. But as the play moves forward, this bad impression about him lessens, and he comes out to be a sincere friend, lover and husband. He proves to be caring and selfless in the trial scene.
Though he is noble and kind, he has no great thought to utter, nor does he perform any bold action to compare with Portia’s impersonation of a lawyer in the court. We are indeed informed that he is a soldier, but we do not find him acting in that capacity.
Bassanio – Two Aspects of his Character
Bassanio is portrayed in his two-fold aspect as Antonio’s friend and Portia’s suitor. He is true to his friend and sincere and faithful to his wife Portia. He is portrayed as a careless and adventurous young man. He goes to Belmont in search of a bride and a fortune. Wealth is the object of his wooing of Portia. It is only in the casket scene that he displays his sound judgement and emotion. After choosing the right casket, he yields the stage to Portia. But he does not become an insignificant character. His gentlemanly conduct at the court and his anxiety to get the release of his friend Antonio from the cruel clutches of Shylock win our sympathy. His truthfulness in the ring-episode is praiseworthy.
Bassanio – A True Lover
He approaches Portia as a real lover. The caskets are meant to test the truthfulness and sincerity of the man who will marry Portia. He is not deceived by the glitter of the gold casket and the silver casket. He chooses the lead casket and wins the hand of Portia in marriage. The right choice of the casket shows that he is a sincere lover.
Bassanio – Practical and Worldly-wise
He is practical and worldly-wise. He is concerned about the welfare of his friend Antonio. When Antonio is ready to sign the dangerous bond with Shylock, he asks him not to sign the bond because it contains the penalty of a pound of flesh. When Antonio assures him that he will be able to return the loan before the appointed date, only then does he allow him to sign the bond.