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Discuss the significance of Act 4 in the structure of the play as a whole. You should comment on the development of the characters, the themes of the play and anything else you find of interest.

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Discuss the significance of Act 4 in the structure of the play as a whole. You should comment on the development of the characters, the themes of the play and anything else you find of interest. The tragic beginnings that start the play intrigue the audience about this rich merchant's story but in Act 4 they are all forgotten about in the unexpected mood change of most of the characters. Shylock, the Jew is a usurer who has good fortune by lending money at great interest to Christian merchants. He is portrayed as a greedy character in the play and being a hardhearted man he enjoys lending the money that he was much disliked by all good men and particularly by Antonio, a merchant of Venice. They hate eachother just as much. Shylock despises Antonio because he lends out money to people in distress and never takes any interest for the money he lends; therefore there is great enmity between the selfish Jews and the generous merchant, Antonio. Though Antonio seems generous, lending his money to close friends, other Christian characters are not. Bassanio, Antonio's closest friend, admits in the first act that he is in debt because he lives off of loans from others. ...read more.


This suggests that the music has made her think of her father and the harsh actions she took. Bassanio and Antonio's friendship does survive some stressful situations. For example in the first act, loyalty is shown when Antonio loans Bassanio a large sum of money and takes his word that he will repay it. Bassanio says to Antonio, " I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth, That which I owe is lost; but if you please To shoot another arrow that self way." (I/I/146) From these words it suggests that Bassanio has borrowed money off Antonio before and has not repaid his debts, and yet Antonio still loans him money again out of sheer loyalty to his friend. Bassanio shows himself to be a loyal friend to Antonio when he returns to help him escape the forfeiture of the loan from Shylock. He actually offers to give his own life and all of his loved possessions to save Antonio. His loyalty to Antonio is seen as greater than the repayment of the loans he owes to Antonio. In the end he makes the sacrifice of giving the judge, which is Portia in disguise, the ring which his wife gave to him and told him never to remove if he loved her. ...read more.


Shakespeare obviously intended for the audience to eventually feel sorry for Shylock, which suggests the play to not be anti-semetic. If the play were anti-semetic it would not end with the audience pitying the main Jewish character. Instead it suggests that Shakespeare used Shylock's character to reveal the true hypocrites of the Christian characters in the play. The play remains anti-semetic by Shakespeare's audience having the dramatic tension and the never ending questions which would never had identified a Jewish "hero" and his downfall was never expected to have been pitied by the audience. The character of Shylock seems to be the villain of the play. He sets up a plan to extract a pound of flesh from Antonio who seems to the audience at the time a good Christian. The play however is much deeper thought out than this. Shakespeare gave reasons for Shylock's actions. For example if they were of hatred or not. It is clear that Antonio had given Shylock ample reason to seek revenge. Later, many of the Christian characters get into the same behaviours, which they take out on Shylock. Seeing Shylock's motives and the actions he took in the play and those of the Christians also, it is not Shylock's religion, which is being criticised, but it is the hypocrisy by the Christian characters. ...read more.

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