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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  1. 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
  2. The merchant of Venice - Is Shylock a villain or a victim?

    The first scene of the play is important because it introduces Antonio the Christian who looks depressed about an unexplained cause in the play. We see him being comforted by his friends. This tells us about popularity of Antonio amongst his friends. This is very important because already Shakespeare is suggesting that Christians had a bigger social circle than to that of the Jews or that Jews had different social circles but less popular that that of the Christians. The Elizabethans would like this because majority of them were Christians.

    • Word count: 2795
  3. Examine how the character of Shylock is portrayed in 'The Merchant of Venice'. What differences are there for a modern audience compared to an Elizabethan one?

    Shakespeare based Shylock on a Jew called Barubas in Christopher Marlowe's play "The Jew of Malta". He was a 2D stock villain who had no redeeming features. He went round poisoning Christians drinking water, this is what Elizabethans would be expecting Shylock to be like. This confirms what Elizabethans thought about Jews, that they are villains. However Shylock is a more rounded character he is a victim as well as a villain. As Shylock is a complex character the audience doesn't know how to feel, sympathy or hate. Shakespeare raises the moral question of how to treat Jews in society.

    • Word count: 1749
  4. Merchant of Venice - Say how the trial scene in

    Shylock is a moneylender who lends sums of money to others at a fixed rate but charges vast amounts of interest. However, Antonio also lends amounts of money, but without the interest. This is "Gratis". This is one of the main reasons why Shylock hates Antonio because Antonio is meant to be making Shylock's profits to drop. They both are 'bigots' because they also hate each other for their religion. "I hate him for he is a Christian" Shylocks only concern was for money.

    • Word count: 1330
  5. Can Shylock be described as a victim or villain?

    The play is set in Venice and it is known for its strong naval control. The Jews were hated so much because they were known for their money lending and charging interest, which the Christians were not allowed to do, Jews were not allowed to own land or participate in most trade in England so money lending was the only option and they exploited it to the full. In Venice the Jews were excluded from the city centre so they lived round the outside of the city. In the play Venice is depicted as a wealthy and desirable place to be because of the trade routes crossing through carrying wonders from the east by land and from the west by sea.

    • Word count: 1490
  6. Directing the Merchant of Venice.

    Movement: The Duke, (the leading man of power) will walk around the court and bang his hammer down on the tables of the people in the court to create excitement and tension. Shylock will walk and move smoothly and confidently, laying back in his seat, while Antonio will constantly be sweating, shaking nervously and when he walks or stands up he will do so in a quick nervous jerks. He will be leaning forward in his seat. Costumes: As my production is set in the Shakespearean period men played the few women parts.

    • Word count: 1793
  7. "It is far from clear in The Merchant of Venice where our sympathies ought to lie" Discuss.

    Because the play itself is constantly referring to justice, morality and prejudice, we are constantly reminded and asked to think about the way we as individuals and as a society judge and discriminate. The Elizabethan mentality and the situation of Jews living in England allowed Shakespeare to further analyse and incorporate these themes into his play. Marlowe, another British writer during the 16th century wrote The Jew of Malta, a play full of religious conflict and political intrigue. Like The Merchant of Venice it dealt with anti-semitism and hatred which were themes particularly relevant to the audience in the early 16th century.

    • Word count: 2715
  8. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of the trial scene between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice.

    It was also a resolution of the tension between Antonio and Shylock and some of the other main characters. The dramatic interpretation and costumes of each character in the trial scene made them immediately recognisable. Shylock, in his Jewish Gabardine for example would be easily identifiable as a Jew and thus treated differently from everyone else. This and other dramatic interpretations allowed Shakespeare to further explore and examine issues of race, religion and prejudice, which i will attempt to discuss in the ensuing paragraphs.

    • Word count: 1858
  9. Merchant of Venice - Say how the trial scene in

    They both are 'bigots' because they also hate each other for their religion. Venice is the setting of the play; The city was the trading centre of the world but at the end of the 16th century was overtaken by England which was at a new age. Looking at the hate between the two characters, Antonio states "I hate him for he is a Christian" Shylocks only concern was for money. Shylock agreed to lend a sum of money to Antonio. As part of the bond, Shylock insists that if his money is not given back in time, with the added interest, he would be entitled to perform his bond which stated that shylock could cut exactly one pound of flesh from Antonio's body.

    • Word count: 1359
  10. Merchant of Venice - Is Shylock presented as a victim or a villain by Shakespeare?

    The Christian church had always taught that Jews should be despised for their rejection of Jesus and since most of the people of England in Shakespeare's time were Christian, Jew's were very much the outcasts. In The Merchant Of Venice Shylock's ill treatment is often lead by Antonio and Bassanio. In Act 1 Scene 3 Shylock talks about what Antonio has done to him. "You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine." (Line 108-110) "You did that void your rheum upon my beard."

    • Word count: 1424
  11. 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
  12. Whether Shylock is seen as the villain or the victim of 'The Merchant of Venice' depends on point of view.

    Not only were Shakespearean audiences anti-Semitic, the other characters in the play certainly are. They are all Christians, and although religion doesn't seem to play a major role in their lives, they condemn and hate Shylock for his religion, and then for his person, for most of them he is a figure of darkness 'the fiend at mine elbow'. They also hate him for his job, as a usurer, but it was one of the only jobs available at that time to Jews, which seems especially unfair.

    • Word count: 1426
  13. Shakespeare's "The merchant of Venice". How can an audience's sympathies towards the characters in act 4, scene 1 be radically different according to the interpretation of a director?

    to teach the people of his time a lesson in prejudice, and therefore showing that Shakespeare's views were way ahead of his time? Or did he intend for a racist play using women and different religions and cultures as an example of humour? There are many questions the director has to ask himself before he starts this scene, for example how shall he portray Antonio and Shylock to the audience? Which one shall be illustrated as the victim and which one as the villain in the scene?

    • Word count: 2084
  14. Shakespeare's Character of Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice.'

    One of the businesses that Shylock is allowed to take part in, however, is usury. Usury is money lending to make a profit. Shylock would be able to lend money to people and charge interest on their loans. Not only is this a profitable trade, but also it is fairly straightforward. Antonio, however, does not like Shylock, and lends out money 'gratis' to spite him. The definition of the word 'gratis' is free of charge. As Antonio is a merchant, he would be very wealthy, so people would go to him before approaching Shylock. This meant Antonio would effectively take some of Shylock's business from him.

    • Word count: 3990
  15. In 'The Merchant of Venice' in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is described as being 'the devil' by Antonio. To what extent do you agree that he is the villain in the play?

    The fact that Antonio lends money to others too, but does not charge interest on it seems to be merely a clarification of Shakespeare's desire to show the difference in the moral standards of the two characters- Shylock is made to seem petty or even greedy (one of the seven deadly sins) in comparison to Antonio's magnanimity. However, to me, Antonio appears arrogant, and this is especially visible in Act 1 scene 3 when the bond is set and we have Bassanio to compare him with.

    • Word count: 3077
  16. William Shakespeare was born in 1564, in the small town of Stratford. He wrote many plays, including the revered Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Hamlet and, of course, The Merchant of Venice. He died in 1616, aged 52.

    Jews were portrayed as inferior, and marginalized, because of their religion. Shakespeare showed incredible insight to introduce burning issues of today into a deeply Christian country that misunderstood religious prejudice four hundred years ago. The play takes place in Venice, which is situated in the north-east of Italy and is known as 'Queen of the Adriatic' for its strong naval power. Shylock, a rich Jewish money lender, attempts to make a living and survive in a country that despises him and alienates him.

    • Word count: 1953
  17. "The Merchant of Venice" was offered to Shakespeare's audience as a comedy. What problems does presenting the play to a modern audience present in portraying the character of Shylock?

    In Shakespeare's time white people were very racist towards the aliens. Venice was one of the few cities in the world that had laws and gave rights to the ethnic minorities but even so the rights of Christians were superior. "...If you prick us, do we not bleed? ... The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instructions." We do not know whether Shakespeare himself was racist or not. But from these words said by Shylock we realise that that Shakespeare understood how Shylock felt and where his anger and hatred came from.

    • Word count: 7116
  18. The Merchant of Venice - WilliamShakespeare - Discuss the presentation of Shylock's character.

    In the sixteenth century, banking was very well developed. So why go to a Jewish money lender? The answer is, in order to raise large sums of money in a short space of time and for minimum effort. Shakespeare was neither rich nor poor, so he had a great understanding of the language of money. He knew all about poverty gain and loss, but also all about being rich and having money to burn. All of this comes through in the play and you can tell by the language he uses that he knows all about what he is telling us.

    • Word count: 3025
  19. In the Merchant Of Venice, to what extent does Shakespeare provide critique of the constancy upon women at the time ? What does he conclude as to women's role in nature by the end of the play?

    Portia is a woman that is educated in the matters of the law. She also has been in charge of herself and her household since her father's death. Portia is very stubborn, bossy and is also very cunning. In Act 4 Scene 1, Portia has dressed up like a man and is judging a trial on Shylock and Antonio. Shylock is about to take exactly one pound of flesh out of Antonio's body, when Portia, more cunning then ever makes a statement.

    • Word count: 1252
  20. The Merchant of Venice - Shylock villain or victim?

    Antonio is a Christian and a noblemen, he is a merchant of ships and is very wealthy. Shylock is a Jew and is a moneylender and also very wealthy. Shylock lends money and charges a large amount of interest. Antonio also lends money, however does not charge interest. This is an important issue, for this is one of the reasons Shylock hates Antonio and vice versa. Antonio allegedly causes Shylock's profit to decrease by putting him down at the 'Rialto'. Shylock's hatred also is also beyond differences in religion. Shylock loathes Antonio's lifestyle and also Antonio's constant discrimination and racism towards him.

    • Word count: 1876
  21. Towhat extent do you feel that Shylock presented as a victim or a villain in the Merchant of Venice?

    This shows that Jewish people are small minority in Venice and they aren't even treated as humans. "And you foot me as you spurn a stranger cur". Shylock is treated like an animal. Shylock wants revenge for all this. He gives the money to Antonio on one condition. If the debt was not paid Shylock would cut of a pound of flesh which means he would kill him. "Let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me the most".

    • Word count: 1768
  22. Give an account of Shylock's character - Do you think he is a villain or a victim?

    Shylock immediately shows a clear disliking to Antonio who appears to be a perfectly good honest gentlemen and he is full of generosity, This is one of Shylocks main reasons for despising Antonio as he also lends money to people except he doesn't charge interest at all, Shylock thinks that Antonio is stealing his customers and causing his profits to drop. Shylock doesn't just hate Antonio for the business side of things he also hates Antonio for their difference in social class, lifestyles and religion "I hate him for he is a Christian" this shows Shylocks religious hatred, Shylock also

    • Word count: 2408
  23. The Merchant Of Venice - With particular reference to Act 4 scene 1 how far is Shylock presented as a victim or a villain within the play?

    I will then try to justify how far shylock is perceived as a victim or a villan. Act 1 scene 3 holds many points to show shylock as a victim and a villain. We begin to see these factors. In act 1 scene 3 when shylock says "fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last, you spurned me such a day, another time you called me dog" this presents Shylock as a victim as Antonio has "spurned" "spat" and "called me dog" to shylock.

    • Word count: 1162
  24. Shylock is an ambivalent portrait: Discuss with some reference to the cultural background, how an audience might respond to him throughout the play.'The Merchant of Venice'.

    'Antonio shall become bound - well' (line 5). Later on in the scene, Shylock shows his intelligence once again, when he tries to be friendly to Antonio to try and make him sign the bond, e.g. 'I would be friends with you, and have your love' (Line 133). Shylock is a shrewd businessman. He is careful not to lend money out to people who he doesn't know, or people that he knows will not pay him back, e.g. 'My meaning in saying that he is a good man, is to have you understand that he is sufficient' (Lines 13-14).

    • Word count: 3308
  25. To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathize with Shylock in the Merchant of Venice?

    The modern audience would be more tolerant, and so therefore would be able to enjoy the play more. A contemporary audience would probably have not cared about Shylock, and the things which have happened to him, as they were very arrogant. In Act 1 Scene 2, Shakespeare has Portia, Shylock's daughter describe her feelings towards a young British Baron named Falconbridge. Through these descriptions, Shakespeare includes subtle criticisms of the Christian audience, when describing him; Portia uses description, which can relate directly to the audience.

    • Word count: 2042

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