As we have seen, our goal has been to compare friendship of two pairs of characters, one dealing with Antonio and Sebastian from Twelfth Night; and the other, Antonio and Sebastian from the Merchant of Venice.
At first glance, the relationship of these characters seems to be a relationship based on friendship (gratitude, lending something without expecting anything in exchange, and so on), and at the same time we can know what they expect from this type of relationship. But through the plot and after analysing these characters and their statements, we have realised that it is not only that, i.e, there are some stronger feelings.
Both Antonio are fond of their close friends (in this case Bassanio and Sebastian); as we can see Shakespeare uses the same name for the character who is fond of another. They try to take care of them, to help them in all what they need; and, at the same time, they seem to expect from them help as they needed it too or sometimes gratitude. But, on the other hand, we have found different opinions, especially in relation to Bassinio’s ‘feelings’. Some think that he behaves as what we would consider a friend, but others say that he is only interested in Antonio’s money. We also find a debate about Antonio (MV), some critics think that he is too possessive, whereas others argue that he wants Bassanio’s happiness. As we can observe, the relationship between Antonio and Sebastian in Twelfth Night does not set up so many different opinions. It seems to be that most experts agree that that relationship is more balanced, i.e, there is not self-interest (in Antonio and not in Sebastian).
Finally, we should point out that none of the Antonio can reach their love. First because Sebastian marries Olivia and Bassanio Portia; and secondly because a sexual attraction between people of the same gender was not possible because of social laws and it was punished with death.