Through his prose and sonnets, Shakespeare expresses and makes his readers think about the three main themes that he had incorporated into this short passage of his work The Merchant of Venice. By subtle means, Shakespeare depicted the strongest emotional and social themes in this short exerpt.
Shakespeare opens this passage by touching the levels of the society. It is sort of an irony that Gratiano calls Antonio a "royal merchant" (Act3 Scene2 Line238) because just in the next person's dialogue the readers learn that all of Antonio's ships hadnt made it but instead had sunk the ocean. From the way that Bassanio calls his wife "Gentle lady," the sense of a hierarchal pattern was established. Since Bassanio won Portia by chance of the caskets and the fact that Portia has a great deal of money, Bassanio practically reveres her. But even when Portia considers herself as "half of Bassanio," or, his wife, such that he doesnt need to show so much respect for her but instead treat her as a equal, why does Bassanio still do so? Is it because he wants to borrow a great deal of money from her? Or is it just simply because he wants to show all his love for her? Or maybe he just wants to get on her good side so that he can go to her whenever he is facing a difficult problem? The way he talks to her, using "sweet Portia," "gentle lady," "dear lady," and some other phrases of the same sort clearly draws a line between the different levels of the society: the rich, the merchants, the servants, and the poor people. This is shown when Bassanio was talking about his past, he emphasized the fact that he talked about "all the wealth that he had ran in his veins" (Act3 Scene2 Line253). This symbolized that wealth played an important role in the Shakespearean society, and the ladder steps of the society was based on how much money one had. The rich were few in number, and they grew fat on the disastrous fate of the poor majority.