The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Love

1

I am glad ’tis night, you do not look on me, For I am much ashamed of my exchange. But love is blind, and lovers cannot see The pretty follies that themselves commit, For if they could Cupid himself would blush To see me thus transformèd to a boy. (A II, s vi)

Jessica explains to Lorenzo that love looks past embarrassments or faults. While Jessica feels ashamed of the disguise she wears in order to escape, she recognizes that if Lorenzo truly loves her, he won’t care about her looks. While this scene encapsulates a small moment between the two lovers at the start of their relationship, Jessica pinpoints an essential quality in love and relationships. By recognizing this important factor, Jessica and Lorenzo reflect a strong foundation despite their tumultuous start in which Jessica must run away from her father and religion.

2

How all the other passions fleet to air, As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair, And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love, be moderate. Allay thy ecstasy. In measure rein thy joy. Scant this excess. I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less, For fear I surfeit. (A III, s ii)

After Bassanio finally chooses the correct box, Portia describes her true feelings of love for Bassanio to the audience. She reveals the excitement of new love and appears to be almost bubbling over with joy and happiness. She describes how her feelings of love overpower negative feelings like jealousy or fear. She even recognizes how overwhelming these feelings of love can seem. Despite not knowing each other very well, Portia’s expressions prove that love can come quickly and unexpectedly.

3

I never did repent for doing good, Nor shall not now; for in companions That do converse and waste the time together Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love, There must be needs a like proportion Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit, Which makes me think that this Antonio, Being the bosom lover of my lord, Must needs be like my lord. If it be so, How little is the cost I have bestowed In purchasing the semblance of my soul From out the state of hellish cruelty! (A III, s iv)

Portia highlights her true love for Bassanio by describing her sacrifice to save Antonio as an act of love for Bassanio. Portia explains that she has never regretted doing a good deed, and likewise the cost in money and time to save Antonio represents a small price to pay to help her husband’s friend. By virtue of the devotion she feels for Bassanio, she embraces Bassanio’s friendships as extensions of her love for Bassanio. Portia’s willingness to sacrifice for her new husband, even indirectly, demonstrates the genuine love she feels for him.