In Act 1, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio describes Portia’s money first and then her beauty. Does this show, in any way, that Bassanio loves Portia’s wealth more than her?
When Bassanio was talking with Antonio, he said about Portia:
In Belmont is a lady richly left,
And she is fair and—fairer than that word—
Of wondrous virtues.
Actually Bassanio was talking about how bad his finances had been of late and trying to convince Antonio about his chances to repay Antonio the money he owed and even the present sum that he was asking for to go to Belmont. So it may seem very natural for him to mention Portia’s wealth first and then her beauty. At least for Antonio, her beauty or virtues should not make more sense than what her wealth would. From that direction it was just the need of the context or situation.
But, if we try to guess whether Bassanio would have shown any interest in Portia without her inheritance, the equation would be different. Bassanio has talked about taking one more risk by throwing one second ‘arrow’. So I think, he is actually running after Portia’s wealth more than her love.
In Act 1 Scene 1- Bassanio is trying to convince Antonio(although unnecessary as Antonio really doesn’t need justification) to lend him another 3000 ducats so that he could go to Belmont and try to woo her. If you have wasted a persons money and not paid them back, and are still asking for more , it is natural that you talk about how you plan to pay them back. This is Bassanio trying to be diplomatic as there would be no need for him to start talking about how much he loves Portia. This seems too early to make a judgement and in the later scenes (like when he is picking the casket) he wholeheartedly talks of her beauty so we could deduce that he really loves Portia, just that he doesn’t mention it to Antonio right now.(As it is also doubted that Antonio was romantically interested in Bassanio and loved him)
In act 1 scene 1, Bassanio had come to Antonio to borrow money (3000 ducats) once more which will furnish him with the necessities required to go to Belmont to woo Portia. ‘once more’, because he had borrowed some money already from Antonio, which he has not been able to return because of his extravagant, lavish and lordly way of living. Since Antonio was his best friend, he came to him to borrow money again rather than going to anyone else. We know from the previous lines of the play (lines said by Antonio) that Bassanio had already told him about a lady for whom he had a soft corner in his heart. Bassanio, being a little shy for talking about Portia, as any boy would be in case of talking about a girl, and ashamed of himself for not being able to return the money previously borrowed, starts to tell by starting with the money of Portia and then about her.
He is only doing this so as to make Antonio sure that he will return all the money he has borrowed from him.