An important relationship in the play ‘Merchant of Venice’ is that of Antonio and Bassanio. Shakespeare presents their relationship as intricate and through his use of language throughout the play, generates a discrepancy of what is obviously shown is not subtly meant in their friendship.
Shakespeare portrays, I believe, Antonio and Bassanio’s relationship as one of a Father and Son. Antonio fulfills a paternal role in the play through his foolishly indulgent friendship with Bassanio. In the very beginning of the extract, Bassanio states “In my school- days” in order to emphasize his youth, further reinforcing his role as son. He further displays his goodness, naivety when he states, “ I owe you much, and, like a willful youth, that which I owe is lost. But if you please to shoot another arrow that self way which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt, as I will watch the aim, or to find both.”
This quote exaggerates Bassanio’s role as a purely innocence child in relation to Antonio. “Then do but say to me what I should do, that in your knowledge may by me be done, and I am pressed unto it. Therefore speak.” spoken by Antonio in great devotion to his friend, however in a parental tone, as a father would a son to be direct about an issue as a retort to Bassanio’s rambling as a child. Antonio’s great devotion to his friend, however, is in ironic contrast to the bigotry and prejudice he has showered upon Shylock prior to signing their “merry” bond further in the play.
Additionally Shakespeare believed that the strongest bond is one between two men, over exceeding that of marriage.