Antonio is the title character of the play. He appears to be a middle-aged bachelor and a businessman who is beloved by most of his acquaintance. He has been doing business in Venice and his financial interests are in overseas ships at the beginning of the play.
Knowing his shipments are overseas, Antonio wasn’t very calm at all. He walked around nervously and not saying anything until he was asked multiple times. He was running out of budget and all his hope was counting on the merchant in the ships. To him, the shipments must have been an act of gambling. He would either win them all or lose them all. See quote below.
“In sooth I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me, you say it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff ‘tis made of, where of it is born, I am to learn And such a want-wit sadness makes of me That I have much ado to know myself.” -Antonio, Act I, Scene I, Line 1.
Despite the unsettled financial situation, Antonio was surprisingly willing to give loans to his friend Bassanio. “Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea/ Neither have I money nor commodity/ To raise a present sum; therefore go forth/ Try what my credit in Venice can do/ That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost/ To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.” -Antonio, Act I, Scene I, Line 177
Above is Antonio’s response to his best friend Bassanio’s request for loans. The wordings have shown great generosity and trust under an unquestionable friendship. It was very nice of Antonio to make such an offer. But, it was not a smart thing to do at all for his business. At that point, his only source of money would be from the evil Jew Shylock who always wants to rip Antonio off.
The worst move made by Antonio in the whole play would be signing up a bloody contract with Shylock. Knowing there is a possibility of losing all his business capital, Antonio decided to gamble on both his wealth and life. His confident promise to both Bassanio and...