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Response to shakespeare s play the merchant

The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a comedy that produces a sense of creeping uneasiness in an audience watching it today. It is a play with complex themes: In this age of multi-culturalism we find the prejudice of the Christian majority at times offensive to our 21st-century susceptibilities.

But this is a modern reaction that Shakespeare would not have recognized. Many misconceptions have arisen about the character of Shylock and his relationship to the Christian society in which he has chosen to live. The Elizabethan audience would have had a very different theatrical experience from that of a modern audience.

For a start, the Jewish moneylender or usurer was a recognizably comic figure to them, and Shakespeare endorses this. The first words Shylock speaks are about money: The impression immediately is of a man obsessed—fixed on one thought.

His stilted flow of language and his foreignness of speech are immediately obvious when set against the easy babble of those gilded Venetian flies, Salerino and Solanio. Nevertheless Shakespeare was incapable of creating a stock character without humanity. Before the bond is proposed, he provides a psychological justification for it: Antonio, Bassanio and the other Christians by contrast are impulsive, irresponsible and trust to chance. Bassanio takes a chance on his wooing of Portia to clear his debts, whilst Antonio, already chancing his fortune in trade, takes a greater risk by agreeing to a loan from Shylock, the terms of which threaten his very life.

Merchant of venice essay questions kellogg

He hoards it, as he hoards his words; they waste it. It is a theme repeated endlessly in the play: But did Shakespeare intend us to despise the Christians and respect the Jew? In fact, Shylock as the unjustly persecuted victim became a theatrical tradition only after the actor Edmund Kean, in the early 19th century, chose to abandon the traditional comic red wig of the stage Jew and appeared instead with black hair and a complementary dark and brooding characterization.

Later in the 19th century, the actor Henry Irving imbued Shylock with so much dignity that it unbalanced the play and he ended the play after the trial scene.

His comedy is both grotesque and uncomfortable, typified by his anguish between the loss of his daughter and the loss of his ducats. It is this grotesque extremity that provides the humour. The often quoted speech: Not that the Christians escape criticism.

  1. Before the bond is proposed, he provides a psychological justification for it. This shows us again the bitterness and selfishness of his character.
  2. Salerio says, "See my wealthy Andrew docked in sand, veiling her high-top lower than her ribs to kiss her burial" 1. Nevertheless Shakespeare was incapable of creating a stock character without humanity.
  3. Is he referring to Jesus as a Nazerite? The Merchant of Venice could easily be classified as a tragedy.
  4. Henry model response essay topic about what shakespeare.

Typically, Shakespeare leaves it to us to decide who comes off best in the trial. He merely presents things as they are, and every generation since the play was first performed has had a different response.

The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers

If Shylock represents the darkness at the heart of this play, then Portia shines throughout like a beacon of love. If too, Shylock is thrift, then Portia is chance. Her very future and happiness depend on it. It is an act of love.

How Does Shakespeare Influence Audience Opinion Of Shylock in ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ Paper

For Portia, love is the only wealth, and it must be generously shared for it to grow. Portia displays her generosity too towards Lorenzo and Jessica in giving them a home at Belmont, and as the play draws to a close the young men, Bassanio and Gratiano, used to Venetian ways, begin also to learn that love ultimately is more powerful than money. Money dominates this play, but Shakespeare is by no means intent on showing that wealth has benefited the Christians.

In contrast to Shylock, they may use their money and buy pleasure with it, but Shakespeare shows this pleasure to be idle and unsatisfying, and many characters express their discontent with their lot: The wise Nerissa sums it up perfectly: This explains the public vehemence against Shylock shown by pleasure-seekers like Gratiano at the trial.

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The message of love is carried by the imagery of music throughout the play. Music is integral to the text; its rhythm and melody are in the verse throughout the play, but the imagery is specifically used to lift Act V after the dramatic trial scene.

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils,… Let no such man be trusted… Thus at this point the two opposing worlds of the play are finally reconciled and harmonized through music. It is the lyricism of Act V that saves the play from being a tragedy. Notes by David Timson.