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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  1. In the play the merchant of Venice Shakespeare deliberately crafts Shylock into a villainous character that is justly punished by the end of the play. To what extent would you agree with this statement?

    He doesn't stand up for himself, and this suggests he is a victim not a villain. Shylock is frequently a victim of racism from all the Christians in the play. In Act 1 Scene 3, it says that Antonio has spat at his beard. This is a symbols of Shylock's religion, and it must be very hurtful for him. Solerio and Solanio constantly make fun of and torment Shylock's religion throughout the play. In Act 2 Scene 8, Solanio says: 'as the dog Jew did utter in the streets: My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!'

    • Word count: 1596
  2. By a careful consideration of the ways in which Shylock is presented, examine how far the reader is invited to sympathise with him.

    This shows that he rejects Christianity, and in doing so isolates him. At this early stage it would invite the reader not to sympathise with him to a great extent, because he has made the choice to isolate himself. This is extended as the scene develops and he continues making the same inferences. However, later on, this is altered slightly when he is talking to Antonio and he reveals how he has been treated by him. He says, "you call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gaberdine", which infers that he is the subject of racial discrimination and abuse from Antonio.

    • Word count: 1797
  3. The Merchant of Venice.

    During the play he is treated badly and ultimately portrayed erroneously. In Shakespearean times Jews were hated, as there were rumours that they killed Christian babies in cold-blood and drank their blood. At the start of the story we feel Antonio has a heroic sense to him, he seems powerful and very generous. He is extremely loyal to Bassanio as a friend and their friendship seems very strong. Antonio helps his friend when help is needed, 'I pray you good Bassanio let me know it, and if it stand as you yourself do, within the eye of honour, be assur'd my purse, my person, my extremist means lie all unlock'd to

    • Word count: 2300
  4. Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 - Describe Portia's Suitors, and discuss her opinions of them.

    The task that has been set by Portia's late father is a challenge designed to make sure that the man that Portia marries is interested in her and not in the inheritance that she has. He has done this making the challenge symbolic of wealth; the task is to pick the casket that has a portrait of Portia within. There are three caskets in total, one made of gold, one of silver and one of lead. Each one has a riddle engraved on the front to help the suitor choose the correct case, they are symbolic of wealth because the suitor who chooses the gold is obviously interested in the money because gold id the most expensive material there.

    • Word count: 1914
  5. The presentation of Shylock as a victim or villain by Shakespeare in "The Merchant of Venice."

    It can be argued that the purpose of Shylock is to high light the prejudices and the preconceptions of the social climate the play was written in. In the Shakespearean era, England was a Christian country. All children would be baptised soon after they were born and were taught the essentials of the Christian faith at an early age. Furthermore attendance at church was compulsory. In England Christians hated the Jews because of their usury. Jews were forbidden to own land or engage in trade so usury was one of the limited occupations available to them, which they exploited to the uppermost.

    • Word count: 2257
  6. "It is money, above all, that produces conflict and concord throughout the play." Discuss the truth of this statement with close reference to The Merchant of Venice.

    Another conflict has also been pointed out within this scene, which is the conflict between love and money. Bassanio explains to Antonio that the route to riches for him has already been found. Portia, a lady in Belmont has been "richly left", having inherited a large sum of money from her dead father. She is thus a magnet for poor noblemen, such as Bassanio, for Renaissance law states that the husband is the ruler of the wife. Therefore when a man marries a wealthy woman, her money passes into his control. Because many men will be after Portia, Bassanio believes that he will need the help of Antonio's money to impress her.

    • Word count: 952
  7. Shylock: Villain or Victim?

    towards Antonio as a friend saying, 'I would be friends with you, and have your love, Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with.' Shylock then goes alone and speaks to the audience and tells them how he really feels towards Antonio, ' I hate him for he is a Christian...Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!' Shylock has planned a scheme, where he takes Antonio's money away from him. Shylock is being very deceiving because he is pretending to be Antonio's friend when really he hates him inside.

    • Word count: 1605
  8. 'The Merchant of Venice' written by William Shakespeare and 'My Children! My Africa!' by Athol Fugard.

    The play is classified as a Shakespearean Comedy. The play is based on themes of prejudice, love and money. There are characters from different parts of the hierarchy, the society of this play is considerably poor, and also the society is prejudiced. Although Portia is a wealthy princess, money is not valued as her pride possession. The character of Shylock values money more. But even though Shylock is often 'bullied' by Antonio, he is still happy enough to loan money away.

    • Word count: 733
  9. The Merchant of Venice- William Shakespeare.

    People could not travel as much in the days of William Shakespeare. Therefore there will have been less awareness of different cultures from around the world, and an even more limited understanding of them. In the modern world because of the amount of travel available and interracial socialisation, marriages and relationships between two people from a different race is now accepted. The audience of the time would have agreed with Portia's views on interracial marriage, as they were also accustomed to an average same religion heterosexual marriage.

    • Word count: 1817
  10. What importance does money assume in The Merchant of Venice?

    The last relationship is that of Shylock and Jessica. In the play, Shylock agonizes over the loss of his ducats and is reported to running through streets crying, "O, my ducats! O, my daughter". The words he used clearly show that he values his money at least as much as his daughter. All the above relationships depict the importance of money over love, and illustrates the moral significance of how love is not before money, rather, only after the value of money, is the love valued.

    • Word count: 823
  11. "The Principal Characters in the Merchant of Veniceare Motivated Mainly by Money" How far would you agree with this view of the play?

    Which begs the question of how much difference is there from profit from wheat and profiting from lending money? These prejudices against him from the community leaves Shylock full of anger and hate which leads to a deep seated desire for revenge - "You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spet upon my Jewish gabardine" and also further betrayal as Jessica ran off with a Christian "Oh my daughter! Fled with a Christian!" - Which leads him to cease the opportunity to reap his revenge on the Christians in the form of the "merry bond" upon Antonio and so then

    • Word count: 1330
  12. Pre-1914 Drama Shakespeare - What differences are there between Venice and Belmont? Some people say that Venice is a place of money and hard dealing, whereas Belmont is associated with love and friendship. Do you agree?

    During Shakespeare's time there was much fierce debate about the acceptability of lending money for interest. It was condemned by the Christian Church and many people considered that, whereas making money through trade was virtuous, people thought usury was immoral because it allowed people to make money without working for it. Usury was the only thing Jews could do. For this reason Jews were disliked. Shylock is the stereotypical Jew for an Elizabethan in that, he is a usurer, an abusive parent, violent, legalistic, bitter, unsociable and greedy. In spite of all these faults, though, one cannot help feeling some sympathy for him.

    • Word count: 1446
  13. The merchant of Venice - With reference to act 4, scene 1, examine the interaction between Shylock and Portia. Is Shylock presented as a victim or a villain?

    heart. Three months latter, Antonio has not paid Shylock. Shylock seeks revenge on the Christian society in which he lives for reasons of which I will explain later on in this essay. And he expresses his anger by demanding his pound of flesh in court. The duke of Venice (man in power at the time) sends forward a doctor to sort the shambles out in court, but the doctor is actually Bassanio's new wife. In this essay I will be examining the interaction between Shylock the "Jew" and Portia as the doctor.

    • Word count: 715
  14. How does Shakespeare go about presenting Shylock as the villain of the play, to the audience?

    "Three Thousand ducats-well." "Three thousand ducats for three months, and Antonio bound." Shylock did have a good excuse to be obsessive with his money, everyone around him, the Christians who hated him as much as he hated them. They would jump at any chance to take it off him. The only one he vaguely trusted was his daughter, and we know that that would later backfire on him. In his conversation with Bassanio we notice that there is no humour or lightness in his words, but why should there be?

    • Word count: 2220
  15. Shylock: Victim Or Villain?

    The doctor was accused of high treason and subsequently executed. I think that this would have given Jewish people a bad reputation, even if the allegations were not true. Also lending money and charging interest, known as usury, was frowned upon as uncharitable and unchristian. Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses clever linguistic devices, such as metaphors, similes and puns, to great effect. Puns are a slightly comical plays on a word, or using a word with a double meaning. All through the play there are many puns but I especially like the one on the word "gentile" meaning not Jewish, and "gentle" meaning kind and good, this particular pun is

    • Word count: 1573
  16. José Martínez Ruiz,"Azorín": La voluntad as a regenerational novel.

    Mart�nez Ruiz highlights Azor�n's lack of will or abulia, by placing Illuminada in the text; she is the antithesis of Azor�n and Justiana: Esta Illuminada es amiga �ntima y vecina de Justiana; es una muchacha inteligente, vivaz, autoritaria, imperativa. Habla resueltamente, y su cuerpo todo, joven y fuerte, vibra de energ�a, cada vez que pone su empe�o en algo. Iluminada es un genial ejemplar de una voluntad espont�nea y libre; sus observaciones ser�n decisivas y sus gustos, �rdenes.2 The novel is also autobiographical; Jos� Mart�nez Ruiz can be identified within Azor�n, especially as Jos� Mart�nez Ruiz later adopted the name Azor�n, as his pseudonym.

    • Word count: 3856
  17. Is it true that Shylock is 'a man more sinned against than sinning'? In your answer you should consider the different perspectives of Elizabethan and contemporary audiences.

    Shylock partly hates Antonio because he is a Christian, but more because he doesn't charge interest when he lends money so in effect he is putting him out of business. This would seem quite petty to the audience this early in the play because we don't know any background knowledge of the two characters and how they treat one another. It is because of his hate for Antonio that Shakespeare's Shylock seems very 'interested' in the offer made to him because it means he would be 'above' Antonio, as Antonio would owe him money.

    • Word count: 2465
  18. Shylock was the Villain of the Merchant of Venice, Yet a Modern Day Audience sees Shylock as a Man Persecuted because of his Religion, Discuss this Statement with Detailed Reference to the Text and Explain this Change of Attitude.

    This soon became accepted and Jews were forced into usury, the act of lending money and charging interest upon its return, this was frowned upon by Christians. This only fuelled their fiery hatred for all things unchristian for Christians were the unquestionable rulers of the world and they thrust their religion upon all who they came into contact with. In our contemporary society these things could not take place, we live in a multicultural society where people of many ethnicities, cultures and religions all get along in perfect harmony.

    • Word count: 2164
  19. Did Shakespeare intend Shylock to be portrayed as a victim, or as a villain?

    The Jew of Malta containing a Maltese Jew, interestingly called Barabas, who, wanting revenge for his daughter converting to the Christian faith, murders a whole convent of nuns, as well as his daughter and slaves. This might suggest that Shakespeare was pandering to a current trend. I can also examine how the play has been put on throughout history. In fact, Shylock is recorded to have been played to be viewed and accepted by the audience in many ways, from hostile and despicable to misunderstood and deserving of sympathy.

    • Word count: 1434
  20. The Response Phase.

    In every case the better item always seemed to lead the conversation and put the other one down. Our teacher picked pairs at random to perform their conversation. These were called inferiority improvisations and made us use a defined character for each individual item. We had to adopt the idea into how we felt with items like the shoe, with people often adding something to make the bad one sound worse. A lot of the work we have done has been based on the Russian practitioner Stanislavski. He taught many people how he thought it was best to act.

    • Word count: 868
  21. You are Shylock - Write about your thoughts and feelings at the end of the play.

    I disregarded how he would, "call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, spit upon my Jewish gaberdine". Yet he still wanted my money. Antonio was too easily persuaded when he knew it was a "merry sport". But then again, I should expect stupidity like that from a typical Christian. I desperately wanted "to feed fat the ancient grudge", yet I ignored his religion, his past and his hatred for me. I gave him the bond, and the ungrateful swine would not "look to his bond". I warned him, I tried to help him. But I know where my help is not wanted, and I shall not regard such scum with the same kindness again.

    • Word count: 1022
  22. Is Shylock a Villain or a Victim?

    Later Dr Lopez was found and executed, from this true story we can see how much racial prejudice was brought upon the Jewish people. In Act 1 Scene 3 Shylock tells Bassanio 'Antonio is a good man'. However Shylock is not really meaning what he is saying, he is referring to Antonio as a good man because Antonio has vast amounts of money, this is telling us that Shylock's one and only main concern and desire is money, there is now way that Shylock would call Antonio a good man and actually mean it.

    • Word count: 1861
  23. "Is 'The Merchant of Venice 'a tragedy for Shylock and a comedy for all the other characters? Discuss this statement using detailed reference to the text".

    She continues to beg him for mercy and mislead him. Upon hearing what she says, he gains confidence. He says, 'Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare! (IVi line297) The response he has given shows that he is under the guise that she is on his side. He has shown respect towards her and this is the first time he has done this. It is because he feels that this is the first time a member of the Christian community has actually supported. The way he says these words is also significant because he is shouting and this connotes eagerness in his voice.

    • Word count: 2267
  24. How does Shakespeare manipulate the audience's response to Shylock in Act 1 Scene iii, Act III Scene I and Act IV Scene i?

    He refuses to accept twice the amount of money he lent to Antonio, he insists on taking Antonio's life. Shylock is not only a monster he is also a victim. He is treated badly by all Christian's, all because of his religion. 'Fair sir you spat on me Wednesday last; you spurned me such a day; another time you called me a dog; and for these courtesies I'll lend you thus much money?' His viewpoint can be fully explained and can occasionally make the whole audience feel sorry for him.

    • Word count: 819
  25. 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

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