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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 1
  • Peer Reviewed essays 10
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    From the study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience?

    5 star(s)

    Or a greedy man who is discussing his money. This although seems a bit far fetched and malicious of the character the Christians in Shakespeare's time could have taken the line in this way. During this opening speech of the scene shylock uses a form of repetition, which isn't direct repetition of his own words, however it is repetition of Bassanio's words and shylock is repeating this for his own remembrance or to 'get it into his head' so that he can make a decision on whether to lend Bassanio this money; "Three months-well" "Antonio bound-well" "Three thousand ducats, for three months and Antonio bound."

    • Word count: 1857
  2. Peer reviewed

    Shylock- Villain or Victim?

    4 star(s)

    Let me say 'amen' betimes for here he comes in likeness of a Jew", Solanio is anti Semitic, claiming Shylock is the devil. Because he is a Jew his situation in Venice is second-class. This is first seen in Bassanio's hostility towards him. At the beginning of the scene Bassanio's speech is short and prosaic indicating the lack of friendship between them, "Your answer to that", this statement shows his agitation with Shylock and, "Be assured you may", shows that Bassanio has taken shylock's previous comment as negative which Shylock didn't intend.

    • Word count: 1063
  3. Peer reviewed

    To what extent do you think Shylock deserves the treatment given to him in the trial scene?

    3 star(s)

    Later on, Shylock is offered to take 9000 ducats, thrice what he wanted, and leave. However, Shylock declines this offer due to it not being "paid, according to the tenour", while the date to pay the money back has been passed and therefore Shylock was entitled to the forfeit, it still comes across to me as evil to want to kill Antonio instead of taking substantially more money. This shows that Shylock was being evil and unforgiving, leaving you to think that later on in the scene; the treat he got was deserved.

    • Word count: 1683
  4. Peer reviewed

    Write about the role and character of Portia in the play.

    3 star(s)

    'I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike' (Act 1 scene 2) However, like all interesting characters, Portia does have a dark side. She goes on to give a witty account of each of these suitors to Nerissa, showing the bigoted Elizabethan attitude towards foreigners. This can be shown in Act 1 scene 2 when Portia first talks of the Prince of Morocco, describing him as having 'the complexion of a devil'. Her descriptions of her suitors show Portia to be witty and quick-thinking, but they also show her to be no less racist than many of the men in this play; as can be seen later on in Act 2 scene

    • Word count: 1103
  5. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare present the character of Shylock in the play? Is it possible to sympathise with him?

    3 star(s)

    She also steals a number of precious jewels and Ducats from her father. This sends Shylock into a rage and he is pleasantly surprised to find out that Antonio's ships have failed him and so Antonio must forfeit the bond. Shylock seems more irate that his ducats are lost then his daughter. This is his chance for revenge against Antonio and taking out his anger about his daughter. He even says: 'I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear' this shows him in his evil state and that he would rather see his daughter dead if it meant getting his jewels back.

    • Word count: 1292
  6. Peer reviewed

    Is Shylock a villain or victim?

    3 star(s)

    As the play unfolds, Shylock is presented as the villain because he is portrayed as cold, greedy and evil. But is he? Is Shylock really the villain in the play or can he also be portrayed as the victim? In Shakespeare's times, the Sixteenth Century, Jews were rarely seen in England. In the middle Ages, Jews had fled to England to escape and their only job was to lend money because Christians were not allowed to lend out money to get interest.

    • Word count: 1101
  7. Peer reviewed

    Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    3 star(s)

    For example, the Jew would die, the Jew would lose his daughter or wife, he would have his money and land taken or he would be forced to change religion. They were heavily persecuted in these plays would also give the audience a bad view on Jews. This expanded the amount of racism towards Jews. I feel that Shylock was a Villain, as although he was heavily persecuted throughout the play he should have had more mercy towards Antonio. I think that Shakespeare had no choice but to make him a Villain because of the audience of the time.

    • Word count: 1571
  8. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    Shylock could be regarded as a metaphor for what Jews had to go through, the one sided abuse Jews could only take on in their ever day life style. In Act 1, scene three, Shylock talks about his "hate" for Antonio. Shylock begins to show his dark side, bickering how Antonio under minds his business, "The lends out money gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice". Shylock suggests Antonio purposely lends money to get at Shylock, his family and his religion.

    • Word count: 1761
  9. Merchant of Venice Act 2 Themes and Characters analysed.

    Additionally, it somewhat foreshadows the fact that Morocco will not get the right casket. Shylock " Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation," Lancelot Lancelot is saying that Shylock is very cruel to him, comparing him to the devil. Also, it shows the characters relate being Jewish to being cruel as Lancelot mentions Jew on purpose together with the parallel he draws with the devil. "My, master's a very Jew." Lancelot Shows how society at that time discriminated Jews, as Lancelot uses Shylock's belief in Judaism to let the others know that his master is cruel and money-minded.

    • Word count: 1292
  10. Is the Merchant of Venice more than just a play about money lending? Discuss.

    Shakespeare tried to make the audience think about the person rather than the figure. It is more than just a play about money-lending; love is another theme that runs through the play though is linked closely to money-lending. It is because of Bassanio's affection, or romantic love for Portia, that he comes to Antonio for money. He also comes to Antonio because of friendship love which is shown in this quote "To you, Antonio, I owe you the most in money and in love...".

    • Word count: 1527
  11. ACt 4 scene 1 of The Merchant Of Venice

    Sympathy surrounds Antonio, but also in some views dramatic sympathy is also directed towards the solitary Jew Shylock. You can look at Shylock's persona in two lights - villain or victim. You can look upon the scene and see Shylock as an intensely sympathetic figure, alone in his isolation, surrounded on all sides by his enemies. Whereas, in my view of the play, Shylock is represented as a villain, showing hatred towards Bassanio, but most importantly showing his aggression with the want of pain and death to Antonio.

    • Word count: 1454
  12. To what extent were Shylock and Antonios behaviour and actions dictated by social contempory prejudice?

    In some versions of the play he is shown as the villain - happily wanting to cut a pound of flesh from a Christian merchant and practising usury whereas in other versions he is shown as a godly man, wanting to get even with his tormenting Christian enemies, but by doing so inside the law. There is no real solution to whether he is a victim or a villain and although Antonio should be perceived as a racial villain because of his behaviour towards Shylock and the Jews, Shakespeare always manages to make Shylock look worse.

    • Word count: 1430
  13. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    Of course the Jews that they're prejudiced against had nothing to do with it, so perhaps by thinking of them as the same being makes the Christians think that they're justified in treating Shylock as if he's villainous. It would be hard to persuade audiences against this idea and Shylock's character is hardly of morale perfection. Shylock refers to his Jewish friend as 'good Tubal' and repeats his name unnecessarily, perhaps this is just down to his excitement and gratitude, but maybe he does this to make up for the way that they're normally addressed.

    • Word count: 1874
  14. The Merchant of Venice is a racist play Discuss

    During 'The Merchant of Venice' Shakespeare uses Shylock as one of the main sources of amusement. Shylock is a stereotypical Jew, so to the Elizabethan audience he was not only an object to mock, but a comical caricature. Shylock is often seen as a miserly, sadistic, distasteful old man. In Shakespeare's frequently evil representation of Shylock, he is leading us to believe that Shylock is a villainous character and playing along with the current racist stereotypes. This would insinuate the play is racist, but without presenting racism in its very worst form it would have been harder for Shakespeare to present a case against it.

    • Word count: 1850
  15. Critical Essay - Merchant of Venice

    Following the reported disappearances of all of Antonio's ships, the bond goes unpaid and Shylock takes him to court. In court Shylock is determined to have his bond as revenge for the abuse he has suffered at Antonio's hands and refuses to show mercy. Portia, who Bassanio had successfully wooed, arrives disguised as a lawyer and manages to find a series of loopholes in the bond which leaves Shylock set to lose all his possessions and his life. The Duke of Venice spares his life and lets Shylock keep some of his wealth under certain conditions.

    • Word count: 1071
  16. Does Shylock deserve the treatment he receives at the end of The Merchant of Venice?

    This takes place when Salerio and Solanio are discussing the elopement of Jessica and Lorenzo. "I never heard a passion so confused, So strange, outrageous, and so variable, As the dog Jew did utter in the streets: 'My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!' " (Act 2, Scene 8, Lines 12-15) Not only does Solanio insult Shylock by calling him "dog Jew", but they also mock his reaction to finding out about the loss of his daughter and money.

    • Word count: 1869
  17. How Does Shakespeare's Presentation Of Shylock Affect Our Response To The Character?

    This is a bit ironic because that is exactly what happens. When he leaves Lorenzo comes via gondola and asks her to come with him. She then takes her fathers money and elopes with the Christian. In this scene I believe Shakespeare displays Shylock as a man who was cheated on and deserted. I believe Shakespeare has caused the audience to be slightly sympathetic for Shylock. In IIIv and IVi Jessica starts to question herself about if it was a good choice to leave her rich father for the love of the not so rich, in comparison to the amount of money that Shylock has, Lorenzo.

    • Word count: 1138
  18. Free essay

    Is Shylock a Victim or a Villain in the Play "The Merchant of Venice"?

    Shylock also says that he hates Antonio for being Christian, but Antonio also hates Shylock for being Jewish. Being disliked because of your religion was a normal thing when the play was written. Jews were locked in a walled part of the city every night when it got dark and the gates were guarded by Christians. When a Jew left their walled part of the city, they had to wear a red hat. This resulted in Jewish people being verbally and physically in the streets. This could suggest that Shylock became a victim of racism. Shylock says 'You spit upon my Jewish gaberdine' to Antonio.

    • Word count: 1246
  19. The Merchant of Venice

    To get married to her, princes from Aragon and Morocco came. Bassanio even caused Antonio take loan from his enemy Shylock only to test his luck no marry Portia. My initial impression of Portia, as she describes her suitors to Nerissa, is that she is witty and quick-thinking. However, she also shows a racist attitude in her comments she says that the Prince of Morocco has "the complexion of a devil" A Shakespearean audience would have found this acceptable in those times as well as the mocking of Jews, in this case towards Shylock.

    • Word count: 1543
  20. Is Shylock portrayed as a Victim or a Villain?

    This shows his love of possessions over people, even his own family. Shylock also is stereotypical. He hates Antonio "for he is a Christian", these intentions shown early on in the play. Shylock's reason for hating Antonio is unclear at the start of the play. However, apart from the religious difference, there seems to be hatred because of Antonio's finances. "He lends out money gratis" is Shylock's only given reason in writing for his hatred of Antonio, but i think that the religious difference plays the biggest part because the Jews seem to be treated differently to the Christians, from what I have seen in the play.

    • Word count: 1954
  21. Do you think Shylock is a victim or a villain?

    From the start, we see that only money matters to him. He is very good at his business, which is lending money to people, then charging very high interest on it. He knows all about Antonio's financial affairs. He also realises that all of Antonio's wealth is out at sea, and is quite likely to be lost. All of the research he has done on Antonio gives the impression that he has his plans well organised. Shylock reveals in his first long soliloquy, his deep and venomous hatred for Antonio. We learn that he has been waiting for a long time to gain his revenge for when Antonio had previously spat on him because Shylock was a Jew.

    • Word count: 1929
  22. Race and religion in Act 1 Scene III in "the merchant of venice"

    Act 1 Scene 3 is set in Venice and not Belmont, already from that piece of information, the audience can expect the scene to be something around the lines of trading, money and debt as Venice is a trading port. This scene in particular shows a strong contrast between the 2 religions. Firstly, right from the beginning of the scene, where Shylock, a Jew makes his first entrance in the whole play, Shakespeare presents him as the money-lender, the one that the Christians ask favour of and seems to have a superior status.

    • Word count: 1241
  23. Is Shylock A Victim Or a Villain

    and sees Antonio as the perfect way to repay the Christians for the prejudice that he and his people have suffered from , "If I catch him once upon the hip , I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him" (Act 1 Scene iii) Shylock is seen to be very cunning and makes a bond with Antonio for the 3000 ducats Antonio believes Shylock is being his friend and even thanks him for the favour "The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.

    • Word count: 1715
  24. How does Shakespeare present racial and religious tension in the "Merchant of Venice"

    Shylock says aside "I hate him for he is a Christian", thus showing his hatred for all Christians, not just Antonio. This implicates that Shylock is a bigot. Antonio abuses Shylock before and during the play, both physically and mentally. Antonio "Spat upon" Shylock's "Jewish gabardine"; a gabardine is the traditional dress for Jewish men, which symbolises the Jewish religion, proving that Antonio hates all Jews; their religion, heritage, and their traditions. This is a sign of disrespect from Antonio to Shylock.

    • Word count: 1105
  25. Merchant of Venice essay

    The only Jewish people that directly receive offensive comments and actions are Shylock and his daughter Jessica, however the prejudice aimed at Jessica is always linked to her relation to Shylock. As Shylock talks of the suffering of Jews through lines such as "Cursed be my tribe" and "Sufferance be the badge of all our tribe", we are given the idea that his torment is typical of all Jews. Yet, since his suffering is typical of Jews are his characteristics supposed to be as well?

    • Word count: 1984

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent would an audience have sympathy for Shylock?

    "In my essay, I have summarised the key points regarding why or why not an audience would feel sympathetic towards Shylock. Many different people would have different opinions on whether they would agree or disagree with Shylocks views. In my opinion, I think that what Shylock was doing was wrong but his reasons for wanting to get revenge were, to a certain degree, justified. He was merely giving Antonio a taste of what it felt to be the subject of hatred and misery. However, the way that he channelled all this hatred for the Christians onto one man was wrong and he shouldn't have done it. There were other ways he could've sought justice, but not in the way he planned to. In conclusion, I feel that I have concluded the main areas of the play that were crucial to this essay and drawn up a good conclusion about whether and audience may or may not feel sympathetic for Shylock and why they would feel like this."

  • Compare and Contrast the two worlds of Venice and Belmont depicted in Shakespear's 'The Merchant of Venice'.

    "In conclusion, Venice and Belmont are two very different worlds with different societies and people. Overall, if you compare the characters of Belmont with the characters of Venice you will find that they are not very similar probably because they were brought up in different societies. Furthermore, the two central characters Antonio are both left unsatisfied. This is because in the end Antonio didn't find anyone to love and marry and Shylock didn't get his revenge on Antonio. The main reason why Antonio can't find love is probably because he is too busy in his trading and business. On the other hand Shylock can't be part of Venetian society because he is a Jew so they are both similar from this perspective."

  • To what extent does 'The Merchant of Venice' reflect the anti-Semite feelings of the period in which it was written?

    "Personally, I believe that Shakespeare wanted to show the harsh reality of anti-Semitism to his audience, and he thought that through the eyes of a Jew was the best way to do it. The play shows definite anti-Semitism in its characters, but in my opinion, 'The Merchant of Venice' is not anti-Semitic."

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