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The Value of Loyalty in The Merchant of Venice

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The definition of loyalty is a strong feeling of support or allegiance. In The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, dependability, integrity, honesty, and faithfulness are key character traits that exhibit the true meaning of loyalty. Each one of these traits demonstrates how a character should be loyal to another person, group, or company. Each one of the characters that display these characteristics is showing how to be loyal to another individual. Loyalty also means that you have your loved ones close to your hearts and always have their backs.

Dependability is shown by honoring the commitments that they have promised or helping a friend with something important to them. Antonio and Bassanio both rely on one another and know that they will always be there for each other. Antonio helps Bassanio by asking Shylock for a loan for Bassanio. “If thou wilt lends this money, lend it not As to thy friends, for when did friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend?”. Bassanio in returns helps Antonio by asking his wife Portia to help Antonio out of his bond with Shylock. “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from the heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Another character that is dependable from the Merchant of Venice is Portia. She shows how she is dependable by using all of her fortunes on Antonio to break the bond with Shylock because that is what Bassanio wants. “Portia tries to talk Shylock out of the bond that he has with Antonio. She explains to Shylock if Antonio bleeds, then the court could take away his property.” Each character from each of the novels or plays signifies how each one of them depends on one another.

Integrity is an act of someone doing what they have promised that they would do. Ms. Maudie from To Kill A Mockingbird defends Atticus after his trial who she describes as a man who is “born to do our unpleasant jobs for us”. Shylock from The Merchant of Venice has integrity because he honors his agreement that he has made with Antonio. After being offered double and triple times the amount, Shylock will not replace anything for the pound of flesh. He wants flesh because it will feed his revenge. “The pound of flesh, which I demand of him Is dearly bought. ‘Tis mine and I will have it.”

Honesty is telling the truth or explaining the facts of a situation. One character that should definitely know what honesty is is Pinocchio. He must prove that he is brave and honest in order to become a real-life boy. “Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy”. Pinocchio proves his bravery, truthfulness, and unselfishness by trying to help save Geppetto from the sea. ““Are you not afraid of death?’ I am not in the least afraid!… I would rather die than drink that bitter medicine”. Another character from a Shakespeare play understands the meaning of honesty and that is Desdemona. Othello refers to his wife as “honest” because she is loyal to him within their marriage. “I do not think but Desdemona’s honest”. Othello even threatens his friend, Iago because he is definite that Desdemona is telling the truth.

Faithfulness is the act of staying true and honest with a person that is close to your well being. Nerissa and Portia are faithful to each other by being honest about what is going on in both of their lives. “Nerissa and Portia have a special bond between each other because they discuss the flaws between their husbands.” “This made the two women very close friends.” Another character from the Merchant of Venice that has upheld faithfulness is Shylock. Shylock has stayed faithful to his religion and who he is as a person which is a Jew. Even though Shylock gets bullied and abused by people for what he believes in, he still does not convert to Christianity. “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?”. Shylock cannot escape the abuse that he receives from the people of Venice, but deals with it the whole play.

To conclude, loyalty can mean a hundred different things. Different people have different meanings and understandings of word loyalty. Dependability, integrity, honesty, and faithfulness are all characteristic traits of the meaning of loyalty. If you have loyalty to a person, that means that you will always stand beside them and help them up when they have fallen. Loyalty is what makes a good friend and a good person. Each one of the characters shows the true definition of loyalty and how it should be played throughout life. 

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The Value Of Loyalty In The Merchant Of Venice. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from
“The Value Of Loyalty In The Merchant Of Venice.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
The Value Of Loyalty In The Merchant Of Venice. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jan. 2022].
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