Romantic Elements in the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Romantic Elements in the play The Merchant of Venice BY William Shakespeare

Romantic Play By Virtue of the Freshness and Frankness of Two Love-Stories: 

The play The Merchant of Venice is romantic by virtue of the freshness and frankness of its two love stories of Portia and Bassanio, of Lorenzo and Jęssica the first love story has its romantic elements in the bold adventure of Bassanio who goes to Belmont to win a wife and in the passionate love that exist between the two. The other love between Jessica and Lorenzo is still more romantic because of a greater element of adventure and because of the hazard that it involves. A Christian is in love with a Jewess and since the Jew would never agree to such a match, the lovers elope. A masque is arranged; Jessica slips out of her house in the guise of a boy; the masked procession is led by torches. This is all romance. 

But the most romantic feature in this love-story is the wonderful, moon- light scene between Jessica and Lorenzo in the beginning of Act V. Few passages in Shakespeare have more of the "far-off magic of poetry" than this conversation between the lovers. Their love is decorated out with imagination and thoughts". This "moonlight serenade of music" with its rich allusions to Greek Mythology (Troilus, Cressid, Medea etc., is indeed a delight. The play is romantic also because of its Italian atmosphere. We are transported completely into an Italian atmosphere. We see in the distance the gondola which is bearing Jessica away with her lover. Italy the land of beauty and romance, the mistress of so many poets, the country of enchantment-such is the background of this play. What could be more romantic than an Italian background? There is something romantic also in Antonio's lavish friendship, ready to sacrifice not only wealth but life for the sake of Bassanio. 

Wholly Romantic Love Affair of Lorenzo and Jessica: 

The Lorenzo- Jessica love-affair is romantic in its essence. Jessica is a Jew while Lorenzo is a Christian. It is only romantic love which disregards religious distinctions and boundaries. But the matter does not end there. Knowing that her father would feel horrified at her having fallen in love with a Christian young man, Jessica runs away from home to marry Lorenzo. This is certainly a great adventure on a girl’s part. She has risked and hazarded all she hath. Fortunately Lorenzo proves to be a true lover who recognizes her excellent qualities and who, therefore, forms a resolve to remain always devoted to her. This is wholly romantic love. One aspect of this romantic love is that the girl in the case has acted in a manner which would shock her father and drive him almost mad with grief and anger. But the truly romantic quality of this love-affair comes out in that moonlight scene in which they both speak the famous love affairs of ancient mythology. This kind of inter-racial love-affair has always been a dangerous venture and on occasions, even fatal. Even in our own time a love-affair between a Muslim young man and a Hindu girl or vice versa is something dangerous. The element of danger makes such a love-affair romantic; and the element of passion in its makes it still more romantic. The elopement of Jessica with Lorenzo is therefore a highly romantic episode in this play. The marked procession led by a torchbearer is a picturesque spectacle which adds to the romantic aspect of the elopement. The poetic element in the dialogue in the moonlight scene heightens its romantic quality. Lorenzo's description of the enchanting effect of music on human beings and on animals has its own share in adding to the romantic effect. Lorenzo speaks about earthly music and also about the unearthly music which is heard only by the angels. 

The Caskets Story, A Supreme Example of Romance: 

Bassanio's basic purpose in going to Belmont to try his destiny at the caskets was to obtain Portia's prosperity through his marriage with an heiress, but his description of her beauty and her charm to Antonio before he sets about to Belmont shows him as a romantic young man. He describes Portia as "fair" and "fairer than that word". Then he compares her to the golden fleece of ancient classical mythology, and says that many suitors go to Belmont to win her in the same way as many adventures including Jason went to Colchos to acquire the golden fleece. After having made the right-choice of a casket, Bassanio praises Portia's picture in poetic terms, and grows almost rapturous over it. Portia is even more romantic in her nature than Bassanio. She feels overwhelmed with joy when Bassanio puts his hand on the lead casket which contains her picture: and then she makes an almost ecstatic speech at Bassanio's success, "O love, be moderate! Allay the ecstasy!" she says. In her complete surrender, body and soul, to Bassanio, she again appears as a romantic type of woman. Both feel rapturously happy when Bassanio proves successful in his choice of a casket. This is indeed a case of love at first sight, a case of passionate love, and also a case of true love which is sure to last forever. 

A Fine Blending of Serious and Comic Elements: 

In The Merchant of Venice, comic and tragic have been intermixed. The play is romantic in its combination of the serious and the gay; and it is romantic in its mingling of the two main stories in its being a delightful piece of story-telling and in the freshness and frankness of its two love-stories of Portia and Bassanio, and of Lorenzo and Jessica. Through the romantic elements of the play we find Shakespeare's wise humanity, infectious gaiety or serene mirth, the piercing intensity of his passion and the splendour of his rhetoric. We must notice side by side, his amazing insight into human nature and the amazing fund of vitality with which he endows his characters.

Saurabh Gupta

My name is Saurabh Gupta. I have designed this blog to help those students and people who are greatly interested to get knowledge about English Literature. This blog provides precious knowledge and information about English Literature and Criticism.

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