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Act 4 Scene 1 is the dramatic climax to the play. Analyse how Shakespeare achieves dramatic effect in this scene. (Pay attention to context, characterisation, action, use of language, aspects of staging and any element of contemporary importance.)

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Introduction

Act 4 Scene 1 is the dramatic climax to the play. Analyse how Shakespeare achieves dramatic effect in this scene. (Pay attention to context, characterisation, action, use of language, aspects of staging and any element of contemporary importance.) The Merchant of Venice is a comedy play written by William Shakespeare in Elizabethan times. Antonio who' is a merchant of Venice agrees to lend his friend Bassanio money so he is able to go to Belmont to woo Portia. All Antonio's ship where out at sea so he had to seek money elsewhere which is when he became bound to Shylock. Shylock is a Jewish usurer and made his money by lending it out and charging interest. When Antonio approaches Shylock for a loan, he makes him promise to forfeit a pound of flesh if he is unable to pay back the money within three months. Shylocks then finds out that his daughter, Jessica had eloped with Lorenzo who is a Christian. Which doesn't please Shylock as there's a dispute between Christians and Jew, for Jews were seen as evil in Elizabethan times.. Bassanio, accompanied by his friend Gratiano depart for Belmont, once they arrive Bassanio falls in love with Portia and chooses the right casket but their happiness is interrupted by the news of Antonio's ship not arriving so the bond goes to court. We are first introduced to shylock in Act I Scene 3 where we learn of his usury and a lot about his character and intentions. He is considered an alien in Venice as he dresses differently, comes from a different back ground and culture. ...read more.

Middle

She then asks if anyone can settle the debt but since Shylock refuses the money she says there is nothing she can do about it 'There is no power in Venice can alter a decree establishment.' Portia then decides she must side with Shylock as he politically correct. She lures him into a false sense of security by praising him and supporting him. Here the audience will see this as a little strange as she had come to court to help her husband's friend out and then sided with the opposition. At this point the audience would be confused and eager to find out what's going on. By coming to court and dressing up as a man it shows how much she loves her husband as she's never met Antonio before. The audience also know's that Portia prejudices and racist from the way she treats the Prince of Morocco in Act 1. In away Shakespeare shows how men and women are similar by giving her some of the characteristic of a typical man in Elizabethan times, strength and intelligence. Now the tension is high and the audience will be anxious by the Portia's and Shylocks actions, and perhaps annoyed at the way Antonio is not even willing to fight for his life. To relieve the tension Shakespeare adds a bit of comedy by Bassanio saying: 'Antonio, I am married to a wife Which is as dear to me as life itself; But life itself, my wife, and all the world, Are not with me esteem'd above thy life: I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all, Here to this devil, to deliver you.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Once she had left Antonio manages to persuade him to give it to Portia. Which shows how is love for Antonio is greater than his love for Portia, also as he was willing to give it all up for Antonio. Although the play was written to be comical, humour has changed throughout the years and isn't what we would comedy today. The issues to do with racism still exist today, although I do feel it isn't as strong as in the Elizabethan times but it is still a big issue nowadays. The attitude that Shakespeare paints with Shylock is one of the reason why racism is still around today. One thing that has really changed and is no longer a relevance in today's society apart from in the developing countries of the world is that women are no longer restricted in what they can do as much. There is still many people though who think of women as the weaker sex. Act 4 Scene 1 is most definitely the dramatic climax to the play as in a way it unites the two cites Belmont and Venice by bringing the women into Venice. Also it unites some of the sub-plots with the main plot, the bond. The scene is unpredictable in the way you think one things going to happen but Shakespeare cleverly entwines the flaws at unexpected times, when you think it's all over. I do feel though some of the dramatic effects loose their impact as it isn't a believer able story. Maybe for the time it was but the realisticness is lost today. ...read more.

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