In sooth, I kno…
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, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
—- William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, I.i.1-7
And so it goes that Antonio, who could never express his love for Bassanio, hid his love in his heart; and Bassanio, ignorant of Antonio’s love for him, appealed to him for means to win Portia’s hand. That Antonio did, and his melancholy was never abated, and would last till the couple’s marriage, way beyond the finale of the play. He would have preferred death by losing a pound of flesh and blood to Shylock, so as to be rid of this sadness, if he were not prevented by the thankful couple who were happy and therefore cruel.