• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the imporatance and the contribution to the "Merchant of Venice" of Act 4 Scene 1, the trial scene.

Extracts from this document...


Assess the imporatance and the contribution to the "Merchant of Venice" of Act 4 Scene 1, the trial scene. William Shakespeare first wrote the Merchant of Venice in around 1600 in quarto. The potrayal of Shylock, the Jew remained comic until around the beginning of the 18th century when he was portrayed as a true villain. In 1814, Shylock's role was depicted as a character to be pitied, and in 1879, he was first portrayed as a tragic character. Subsequent interpretations have varied greatly over the years, but since World War II, he has most often been conceived of as tragic. Scene 4, Act 1 important in one way due to the fact that it contributes to developing greatly the characters of Portia and Shylock. It is common belief that through these scenes Shakespeare is trying to tell us that not all women are stupid as they often, as shown in the scene make fools of the men. Shakespeare might also be attempting to tell us how unmerciful the Jews are through Shylock as Shylock refuses to show mercy to Antonio because of the "lodged hating and a certain lothing" that he bears Antonio which in the eyes of the Audience is not a very good excuse of taking a man's life. ...read more.


of the flock meetest for death" meaning that he has now become old and he would have died anyway soon so he might as well get his life done and over with now. Gratiano then reinforces the impression that we get of Shylock in the trial scene by calling him a "damned inexecrable dog" that is unmerciful and "wolvish, bloody, starved and ravenous". Here animal imagery is again used by Shakespeare to describe human beings. The animal imagery is used in order to descibe how humans sometimes can act like the wildest animals. By relying on the defence that his actions are justified simply because he feels like them, Shylock appears unpredictable, unjustified and whimsical, and he further fuels our perception of his actions as careless and cruel. The trial scene develops the character of Shylock into a complete shape, before the scene he was presented as a man who was the creation of circumstance, now we are seeing the other side of him: the one that is unmerciful, desperate for revenge, unkind and killing a man just because he feels like it. ...read more.


The emphasis that Portia put on the quality of mercy clearly shows how she and probably other Elizabethans at the time thought that mercy was something that "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven". Also in my opinion the villain in the plays at that time would not have been expected show mercy and considering the massive amount of racism that was present in the English community at that time, the audience would have found Shylock's pitiful demise quite funny something we fail to even imagine today. Another quite important thing that is in the Merchant of Venice is the concept of Mercy vs Justice. Shylock is driven by Hatred and unfairness and is wholeheartedly committed to taking his pound of flesh from Antonio and thus almost certainly killing him. He has many opputunities to give mercy but refuses. Warned that without mercy all stand condemned by the law he repeats, "What judgement shall I fear, doing no wrong?". This is very ironic because once Portia turns the table on him, it is Shylock's life that hangs in the balance and he is made to kneel and beg before the duke for mercy. The duke is quite merciful and forgives Shylock but Antonio has a couple of very harsh conditions if he is To fo ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. What is your assessment of the presentation of the character and role of Shylock ...

    victim, and this persistent victimisation has forced him to do some of the things he has done. A final point in this scene where Shylock should be seen as a victim is when Tubal breaks the news of Jessica to him.

  2. Merchant of Venice - Comparing and Contrasting Antonio and Shylock

    However, Shylock believes he is right. He is merely carrying out the conditions of the bond. He therefore does not fear judgement. Mercy is a vital element of Christianity. Everyone believes that Shylock will relent because mercy is demanded in the Old Testament. Portia gives a religious and powerful speech.

  1. How does Shakespeare portray character and relationships in Act 1 Scene 3 of 'The ...

    He is also considering the proposition carefully and this is shown by him repeating the word "well " at the end of each detail of the bond. This once again is done by Shakespeare's use of the bond plot. The clipped short staccato sentences which are exchanged between the two

  2. Shakespeare's "The merchant of Venice". How can an audience's sympathies towards the characters ...

    dislike the Christian faith and try to gain power as an individual. The Christians racist behaviour on stage, in Shakespeare's time, would have been accepted (as well as welcomed as an act of humour); whereas on today's stage, the racist behaviour would be strongly frowned upon, and would stir up a lot of arguments with the viewers in the audience.

  1. Merchant of Venice- Scene by Scene summary & analysis

    / The selfsame way, with more advised watch, / To find the other forth; and by adventuring both, / I oft found both" (1.1.140-144). He has often been compared to Jason in the Quest for the Golden Fleece, namely a risk-taker.

  2. How does Shakespeare create tension in the trial scene of The Merchant of Venice?

    of ill treatment as he is a Jew is certain to turn Shylock into a cruel man; this links back to a speech Shylock made earlier in the play: 'The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.'

  1. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of the Trial scene in "The Merchant of Venice".

    Antonio was extremely confident that he would be safe "Within these two months, that's a month before This bond expires, I do expect return Of thrice 3 times the value of this bond (I,3.151) Up till the trial scene Shylock comes across as a miser and scheming.

  2. ACt 4 scene 1 of The Merchant Of Venice

    Although, other than sympathy, racism is another issue apparent in the scene from the beginning. The duke, who is in pre-trial conversation with Antonio, calls Shylock "...void and empty, From any dram of mercy". Shylock's inhumanity was caused by his religion, and the suggestion throughout the scene is that, if Shylock were Christian, he would be more "human."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work