In the play, The Merchant of Venice, the character that portrays the most evil behavior is Bassanio because he takes money from Antonio to win over Portia, only wants to marry Portia for her high status and money, and gives away the marriage ring that he receives from his wife.
Bassanio portrays evil behavior throughout the play, but particularly in the beginning. Bassanio is in search of love, but most importantly, money. Since men from all over the world fight over Portia’s hand in marriage (I,i, 168-172), Bassanio needs to borrow money from Antonio to impress her. By suggesting to take money from his friend (I,i,175-181) in order to impress a woman that he does not even love, Bassanio is selfish and evil. Not only does this show Bassanio’s malicious nature, but it also shows his true instincts about love and friendship. Bassanio would rather put his friend in danger and debt than have to go to a woman he admirers showing his true colors. Bassanio is aware that he is asking Antonio to make a sacrifice for him in his request for money (I,iii, 144-151), especially since all of Antonio’s money is invested in ships (I,iii,18-24). Despite this knowledge, Bassanio still carries out his plan to win Portia. These unmindful actions make Bassanio the most evil character with the most self-absorbed personality.
Not only was Bassanio’s behavior evil because he takes money from Antonio to impress Portia, but he also portrays immoral characteristics since he only wants to marry Portia for her high status and money. When Bassanio introduces the idea of borrowing money from Antonio so he can win over Portia (I,i,175-181), all of his convincing as to why he wants to be her husband revolves around looks, status, and money (I,i, 165-176). This was primarily the only way Bassanio was able to judge Portia since he had only actually met her once. Bassanio only cares about inheriting money, and in a way, “winning an object”, Portia, that is up for auction. Even though throughout the play Bassanio’s eagerness for money dials down, it was what attracted him to Portia in the first place. When Bassanio sees Portia for the first time, he is only sure about one thing that he wants from her, which was money, and not necessarily love. Moreover, Bassanio is certain that he wants to marry Portia while only seeing her exterior qualities, which shines a light on his true intentions. Bassanio, a true gold-digger, becomes attracted to Portia for the wrong reasons, which is why he portrays the most evil behavior out of the characters in the play.
An action Bassanio does which represents his sense of evil is when he gives away the marriage ring that he gets from Portia to the “judge”, who was disguised by Portia herself (IV,i,448-453). At first, Bassanio did the right thing by explaining to Portia that he can't give away his ring because he made a promise to his wife that he will never take it off his finger (V,i 440), which Portia was probably pleased by and comforted to hear. However, when Bassanio then gives up his ring and tells Grassiano to run after Portia (V, i, 448-449), it shows that he is not loyal to her and is a very bad husband. Even though Bassanio is pressed by his wife and is put in a tough situation, by giving away the marriage ring that symbolizes his relationship with Portia, he rejects the love he has for her. This action shows Bassanio’s insensitivity towards his wife, along with his disloyal personality.
Bassanio portrays the most evil role in the play because he selfishly puts his friend in debt just to win Portia’s heart, is only attracted to Portia because of her elite status, and unfaithfully gives away his marriage ring.
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