In Act 3 Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, Gratiano says “We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece” after Antonio’s success in choosing the right casket. Explain this comparison made the Gratiano.
This comparison alludes to the Greek mythological tale of the hero Jason and his crew of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly. Through the help of Medea, they acquired the Golden Fleece.
In the same manner, Bassanio accompanying Gratiano is here to choose the right casket, in order to win the hands of Portia. And yes, they have won it finally. This deed is indeed heroic enough to compare themselves to the hero Jason, as they have won it even over some of the mighty rulers from various countries.
In Act I Scene 1, Bassanio while describing Portia to Antonio refers to golden locks adorning her hair as the golden fleece and her seat of Belmont “Colchos’ Strand” and her suitors as Jasons.
Gratiano too while informing Lorenzo of Bassanio and his success refer to themselves as Jason as just like JASON they also succeeded on their quest for the “Fleece” i.e, chose the right casket with the help of Portia like Medea helped JASON and afterwards JASON married her.
Bassanio chose Portia while Gratiano chose her maid, Nerissa. Without any delay, they loved their women. Bassanio’s fortunes stood upon the lottery of casket and that of Gratiano’s too because if only Bassanio could win Portia, Gratiano could marry Nerissa. He chased Nerissa and made love, vowed to her until her mouth became dry. Finally she approved and promised to marry him only if their Lord and lady got married. Gratiano compared him and Bassanio to the Jason’s who had won the golden fleece, here Portia and Nerissa.