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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  1. In the production of 'Merchant of Venice' that you watched, did the trial scene affect your opinion of Shylock? Would Elizabethan audiences have reacted in the same way?

    As he is a Jew the audiences would have cheered when he gets killed especially as it is such a gruesome death. We first meet Shylock when he agrees to lend Antonio, a Christian, money in accordance to a 'merry bond' which entails that Antonia would have to give shylock a pound of flesh if he does not pay him back in three months. This made me feel like Shylock is a very evil man because he was willing to cut a pound of flesh form Antonio's body. This would have been the same for the Christians in the audience.

    • Word count: 975
  2. Shylock: villain or victim?

    But as the play develops, Shakespeare manipulates our views and emotions. The continuous switching between observing Shylock as a villain to observing him as a victim forces the audience into insecurity. At the beginning and throughout the play, Shylock is ridiculed and jeered at by Antonio and his Christian friends. Solerio and Solanio, two characters whose purpose in the play is give information and move the story along, constantly mock, torment and make fun of Shylock's religion. 'As the dog Jew did utter in the streets: My daughter! O my ducats!

    • Word count: 920
  3. How far can the audience sympathise with Shylock?

    If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?" This speech is where Shylock tries to show that it is unfair to treat the Jews in such bad ways as after all they are human too. Throughout the play Shylock and the Jews are spat on by Antonio and the Christians and the express true prejudice. Shylock is kicked and called a cur, dog, on many occasions. I feel that the evidence to suggest he is evil is much greater than the evidence which supports the concept that he is a victim.

    • Word count: 727
  4. Court case - Antonio the Christian Vs Shylock the Jew.

    He tells the court that if this wish were denied then the laws in Venice will be worthless. Bellario is asked to enter the court to help decide on this case. Instead there is a lawyers clerk with a letter from Bellario standing at the door. The lawyer's clerk is permitted into the court and the letter is read. Shylock, While the duke is reading the letter, is sharpening his knife. There is another argument with Shylock and Graitiano who is trying to insult him.

    • Word count: 545
  5. The Merchant of Venice - Discuss how Shakespeare presents Portia to the audience at the beginning of the play (up to Act 2 scene 1)

    Bassanio sees her as a rich prize, like the "golden fleece" sought out by the Greek-hero Jason. From these descriptions we recognize her as wealthy as Bassanio is indicating that he is of a lower class. The references to Greek goddesses suggest that Portia is probably beautiful as well as affluent, the typical fairy-tale princess. As a result, when we first meet her, Shakespeare has already made us immensely curious about her. It is clear early on in the scene that perhaps Portia has a variety of different faces or moods that she puts on with different people.

    • Word count: 736
  6. Given the events in Act 4 Scene 1 how fair is it to describe the Merchant of Venice as a comedy?

    However there are many other minor characters who have comic parts. Launcelot Gobbo is probably the best example of this. He is the comic servant of Shylock who leaves him during the play. In almost all the scenes that he is involved with his words and actions are comic. In act 2 scene 2 Launcelot Gobbo plays tricks on and deceives his blind father Old Gobbo. When Portia is criticizing her suitors (act 1 scene 2) she describes them to her maid Nerissa in amusing ways. She uses witty phrases such as,' Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk'.

    • Word count: 576
  7. Is there any excuse of the behaviour of Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice?

    In fact after Shylock speaks angrily towards them, Antonio's feelings start to show through, when he says 'I am as like to call thee so again' showing a more impolite tone. Therefore their feelings are exposed by the way that they address Shylock because they are very courteous and then rude. Shylock is often referred to in a bad way, alot of metaphorical language is used about Shylock like when he gets called a 'misbelieve' and a 'cut-throat dog' he is compared to an unpleasant, violent animal like 'you may well as question with the wolf.'

    • Word count: 501
  8. The Merchant of Venice portrays the triumph of human relationships over merchant capitalism. Discuss.

    Capitalism, which is defined as 'an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market', is evident in the behavior of the traders in Venice, and especially in Shylock. Riches itself is not evil, neither is it an instrument of hate and vice. It is the detrimental love and desire for this money, which corrupts all who are possessed by this powerful force.

    • Word count: 902
  9. The play "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare is a tradgi-comedy in that the "Merchant of Venice" concentrates on the happier aspects of life such as love, friendship, marriage as well as the harsher side of life such as death and fatal flaws.

    He shows this in the play when he loses his daughter. He is more worried about the money she has stolen from him and not really concerned for her safety "A diamond gone, cost me two thousand ducats" "she is damned for it" This greed for wealth and money affects other characters in the play and, in my opinion it affects Antonio most as shylock insists "Let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh" Shylock shows how greedy he is for money as he is willing to commit murder for money.

    • Word count: 524
  10. Shylock's account

    I agreed to the bond and suggested the forfeit be that I take a pound of flesh of my choice from Antonio's body, which means his heart, if he fails to repay me by the deadline, which is three months. I made the forfeit sound like a joke but the foolish Christians agreed to the bond. Imagine that a Christian in owe to me, a Jew. That would be good, no wait, that would be brilliant. I decided to change my mind about having dinner with Antonio and Bassanio because this would waste Antonio's money because he would be giving food out for free.

    • Word count: 726
  11. 'Shylock deserves our sympathy, not our hostility.' To what extent do you agree with this statement?

    He is left with no choice but to be a moneylender and earn his money from collecting interest. To the Christians, collecting interest was against their teaching. This is one of the reasons for the Christians hatred. In Act III scene I Salanio and Salarino confront Shylock, mocking him about his daughter's deception and insulting him. Shylock explains why he will take Antonio's flesh, making his famous speech, 'I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?' This is where Shakespeare evokes our sympathy, by making us realise how Shylock has suffered because of the prejudices of the Christians around him.

    • Word count: 813
  12. The "Merchant Of Venice" is a poem I have studied recently and will be going on to describe it's four themes - Love/Hate/Friendship and Money. I will go on to describe contrasting characters in the poem.

    He feels there is no time like the present. He studies the caskets carefully then chooses the lead casket and asks Portia for the key. He opens the casket & surprisingly he sees a picture of Portia and scroll permitting the man who opens the casket to marry his daughter and tells them what else they will receive. Hate, hatred comes from Shylock and his hatred for Christians so naturally Christians will hate him.

    • Word count: 518
  13. The Merchant of Venice

    Shylock try's to be civil with Antonio to get a deal. He say's "How like a fawning publican he looks, I hate him for he is a Christian" The audience immediately feels that Shylock is evil. When the merchant was first shown in the 16th century everyone hated Jews and therefore they would hate him more than nowadays because Jews aren't hated as much. Antonio's attitude to Shylock is not a very good one. The audience begins to feel sympathy for Shylock when we find out he is treated badly by all Christians who are the majority of the population of Venice at the time.

    • Word count: 741
  14. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Shylock in this scene; is it typical of the way he is presented in the play as a whole?

    Antonio is then introduced into the conversation, and Shylock takes more interest in the proposition. Eventually, Shylock agrees to lend the money to Basanio, interest free, on one condition - if the money is not repaid within three months Shylock will be entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh from the part of his body which pleases Shylock the most. This is the main storyline of the play. As I have said, Shylock is not portrayed as a villain in this scene; the audience is more likely to feel sorry for him because of the way Antonio treated him (this is all mentioned in Shylock's speech).

    • Word count: 663
  15. The Merchant of Venice - Shylock Villain or Victim?

    This leads on to whether Shylock is really this evil or that he had been made this way by the Christians abuse to him. Shylock was a typical Jewish merchant of his time most people did not trust him because all he cares about is his money and he is out to make as much money as he can by fair means or foul. Shylock was a moneylender who caused much distress to people if they could not pay off the money that they loaned he would charge interest so he could make money off their loans.

    • Word count: 960
  16. The Merchant of Venice

    I felt that Shylock was a complex character who was a hero, and a victim, and a villain. This may seem to be an unusual opinion but in the play there is evidence to support this. For me, Shylock had all the qualities, which make a villain. Shakespeare presented him as a very cruel and hardhearted individual. Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in the way in which he treated his daughter Jessica. Jessica was around twenty years of age but Shylock refused to let her leave the house in case she met any Christians; "Clamber not you up to the casements then, Nor thrust your head into the public street to gaze on Christian fools with varnished faces".

    • Word count: 883
  17. How does Shakespeare establish the contrasting worlds of Belmont and Venice in Act One?

    These hints of shipwrecks and storms add to the sense of impending doom. Antonio's denial regarding his concern for his ships is not true, as is discovered in line 178, where he exposes his unease to Bassanio. 'Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea, Neither have I money, nor commodity To raise a present sum.' It would seem to the audience that Antonio is preoccupied with his money, and indeed, Shakespeare manages to convey Venice as a place where money matters.

    • Word count: 649
  18. Shylock is undeserving of our sympathy. Comment on this view of Shylock with specific reference to Act 4 Scene 1.

    Shylock has three main feelings in the courtroom, they are confidence because the bond is a legal document, resentment because of his treatment, mocking of his religion, and verbal abuse and finally devastation at the loss of his daughter. I think this makes him more defiant in exacting his bond. When he approaches the court they belittle him because of his profession (money lender) and mainly his religion which is Jewish. He contradicts the court when asking if Jews are ''Fed with the same food, hurt by the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means and cooled and warmed by the same winter and summer as a Christian is?''

    • Word count: 980
  19. Choose any important scene from 'The Merchant of Venice'. Give an account of the play's background and via analysis of language and staging, show its importance to the play as a whole.

    I have only gone upto line 115 for the purpose of this essay. It would take too long to analyse any more. I am going to stage this in modern times as it gives you more freedom of props and equipment. The first event that would happen in this scene would be the entrance of the cast. I feel the best effect would be to have all the cast with the exception of the Duke already on stage. Then sharply raise the curtains, slowly brighten the lights and finally enter the Duke.

    • Word count: 937
  20. How dose Shakespeare make the characters Antonio and Shylock realistic and build up audience sympathy for them? The Merchant of Venice

    Then he will cutoff one pound off Antonio's flesh. Shylock says, "this kindness will I show- go with me to a notary, seal me there your single bond, and in a merry sport, if you repay me not on such a day, in such a place, such sum or sums as are expressed in the condition, let forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me".

    • Word count: 534
  21. Discuss the importance of the trial scene as part of Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice

    The story of the trial could also have been describing the Christian society at the time. Shylock believes that he is in the right from the start of the scene. He is waiting for the law to confirm that he is in the right. "I stand here for law." The Christians wan to deny him the "pound of fair flesh." However "no lawful means" can carry Antonio out of the situation. He has givern up as he feels that there is no law that can save him, he is left "to suffer quietness of spirit."

    • Word count: 455
  22. Merchant Of Venice

    Bassanio gets his girl Portia after an encounter with a test left by Portia's late father to assure the safety of her daughter, they marry and all is good, until none of Antonio's ships return and he is unable to repay Shylock. There is a lengthy court battle, chaired by the duke of Venice and overlooked by a disguised Portia who had been coached by a friend of hers who was a lawyer and was recommended to the duke by a letter written by him, where eventually, Shylock's claim is overthrown and Antonio Triumphs, with the help of Portia.

    • Word count: 885
  23. Examine the hostility that exists between the Jewish and Christian communities in Venice. How convincing do you find this verbal aggression and where do your sympathies lie?

    'A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man, is not so estimable, profitable neither...' Antonio says that because Shylock is Jewish surely he will add interest so shylock asks for only one pound of flesh instead of interest with the 3000 ducats. 'But lend it rather to thine enemy; who if he break, thou may'st with better face, exact the penalty.' As Antonio asks for the lone, Shylock says why should I when treated him badly instead Antonio says lend to me as your enemy if I break it you can give me punishment.

    • Word count: 608
  24. How far is Shylock a character for whom we can feel sympathy? How would a contemporary audience’s response to him differ from that of an audience in Shakespeare’s time?

    At this time in England the Christian religion didn't allow money lending and loathed the Jewish religion. Jews were forbidden to engage in any sort of trade in England so the only occupation open to them was money lending. In Venice, the Christians lived in the centre of the Venetian community and on the outskirts lived most of the Jews. Jews were excluded from society and portrayed as inferior and lower than Christians. Shylock is the father of Jessica, who elopes with Lorenzo during the play. Shylock is a hated for his greed. He is Antonio's enemy and uses his power against him when Bassanio ask to borrow money.

    • Word count: 924
  25. How does Shakespeare make the trial scene dramatic?

    Jessica also takes a lot of Shylock?s money and jewels. Two Christian friends of Antonio report how everyone laughed at Shylock?s distress when his is left with gold. This adds to Shylock?s anger and bitterness against Antonio. The staging in Elizabethan times is that Shylock would be on the left (the devil?s side).Antonio and his friends are on the right (on the good side). In the film version, Shylock is in the middle surrounded by Antonio and his friends. Shylock is isolated in the court scene, which makes him look like the bad person.

    • Word count: 944

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