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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  1. Justice in The Merchant of Venice

    with great deliberation on the terms of the loan, almost savouring the moment where he has control over the Christians; this is later mirrored with the very same bond in the trial scene. Shylock insists on the exact words of the bond, obsessing neurotically with his sudden surge of power and control "So says the bond, doth it not, noble judge? 'Nearest his heart': those are the very words" lines 249-250 Shylock keeps this control through his view of justice, the exact letter of the law.

    • Word count: 1466
  2. 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
  3. The Issues Raised by “The Merchant of Venice”

    Portia is referring to her choice of a suitor. Her husband, because of her deceased father's will, must be chosen by a 'lottery.' The term, lottery, is a good way of describing it. Some would argue that the prize of the beautiful and wealthy Portia is equal to the prize of today's lotteries. There are three caskets: one of gold, one of silver and one of lead. Each suitor must take his turn to select the correct casket. If he chooses correctly, he wins Portia's hand. If he selects wrongly, then he must never marry.

    • Word count: 2221
  4. In your opinion is Shylock portrayed as a villain or a victim In the Merchant of Venice?

    The outcome was that Bassanio, Antonio's friend got what he wanted, Portia's hand in marrage, but unfortunately Antonio didn't and must pay the penalty. Trough-out the play the main themes were about tragedy, romance, racism and most importantly revenge, it is the one key theme trough-out the play. In Shakespeare times the main culture and religion was Christianity and not Jewish. This is the reason why in the play most characters are Christians and hate Jews. Money lending with interest is against Christian laws, and so the Jewish character Shylock is hated because of his actions against Christian law.

    • Word count: 1269
  5. 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
  6. Does Shakespeare’S Presentation of the Character of Shylock Encourage Us To View Him As a Victim or a Villain?

    clamber you not up to the casements then, nor thrust your head into the public street to gaze on Christian fools...but stop my house's ears...let not the sound of shallow foppery enter my sober house." Shylock does not notice her strange behaviour on this night that she is due to elope with her Christian lover, Lorenzo, indicating that he is not a very attentive father. Jessica would seem to feel the same way. Through her eyes Shylock seems to be villainous, she feels that "I am ashamed to be my father's child, but though I am daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners."

    • Word count: 3160
  7. Act 4 Scene 1 - Merchant of Venice - Mercy and Justice

    Shylock's name is hardly used by characters; he is known as "The Jew." Antonio is also called "The poor Merchant." In the text I found as if more pity is played on Antonio's part and by watching the video I felt more pity for Shylock. The video and text made me look at the play in different aspects and I felt different emotions towards these characters. Shylock agreed to lend Antonio some money. As part of the agreement, Shylock insists that if the money is not returned within a designated time, with added interest, he will be entitled to cut exactly one pound of flesh from Antonio's body.

    • Word count: 1423
  8. How does Antonio persuade Sebastian to betray Alonso in Act 2 Scene 1 of the Tempest? Discuss the dramatic impact of Antonio’s language in lines 191 to 289.

    The next attempt of persuasion is not as subtle. This is when Antonio states, "My strong imagination sees a crown Dropping upon thy head."(Line 200) In this statement Antonio is almost saying he wants Sebastian to be king. What this line suggests, is that Antonio is supportive of Sebastian. When he says "strong imagination", it is like he is foretelling the future. Using these words also allow Sebastian to paint his own picture in his head. This will make him feel as if he is in control, thus he can be more comfortable with the situation.

    • Word count: 1120
  9. ‘I am content.’ Consider these words spoken by Shylock in Act IV. Write an essay discussing whether or not you believe these words to be true.

    When, after the three months are up, Antonio cannot pay back the loan, Shylock demands his forfeiture. Antonio takes the matter to the Venetian court. The judge allows Shylock to have what is lawfully his and cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh but he must not 'shed one drop of Christian blood'. Shylock has been beaten by his own legal bond. By the laws of Venice, if a person 'seeks the life of an citizen' then the citizen gets one half of the conspirator's wealth while the other half goes to the state.

    • Word count: 1447
  10. Write about the world of the Christians in Venice. How are Christians presented throughout the play?

    It shows that the main reason why the Christians are either happy or sad is money. Saying this Christians value their friends above anything. This is shown in the bond with Shylock. In scene three of the first act we see the Christians presented as money orientated people. We can see that the Christians appear to be anti Semitists: " Shylock: You call me a misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine, And all for use for of that which is mine own. Well, then it appears you need my help: " This reveals of the hatred between the Christians and the Jews in Venice.

    • Word count: 1076
  11. Antonio would die for his friend- But Bassanio hardly seems worth it. Discuss this view of Antonio in relation to the man for whom he almost dies

    From this opening scene it is evident that Antonio is unhappy, and money simply cannot buy his happiness or love, if it is this that he so desires. This is on the contrary to his best friend Bassanio's believes, for he has requested a loan from Antonio with the intention, that this should make him appear more attractive to the lady whom he wants to marry, Portia. It could almost be seen in a light whereby Bassanio is throwing out the old and bringing in the new, and to do so he is taking advantage of Antonio, the old, and his money.

    • Word count: 1251
  12. Using at least two of the critical readings provided discuss the views of Shakespeare’s characterisation of Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

    Hazlitt sees Shylock as a symbolic figure for Jews, a man who has been mistreated by Christians and is merely searching for justice. He sees him very much as a tragic character. Palmer disagrees with this, he sees Shylock as a comical figure who has been created purely for humour and is humanised only to make his character more realistic. I disagree with both Palmer and Hazlitt, I do not see Shylock as a tragic character or a comic figure.

    • Word count: 2145
  13. 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
  14. If a man has prejudged, negative opinions against a group of people, because of race, colour, wealth or any other reason, can he be considered to be “uneducated” in the modern world or has society merely educated him with narrow-minded views?

    It was easy to categorize Jews and stereotype them. Something that helped in the stereotyping process was a famous drama by Marlow called "The Jew of Malta", performed in 1589. The lead character, Barabas refuses to pay tribute to the crown and so, his wealth is seized and his house converted into a convent. Enraged by these events Barabas sets out on journey of slaughter, which includes the poisoning of an entire convent. Elizabethan audiences loved the exaggeration and hyperbole of Barabas's character and the conclusion of the story, were he is boiled to death in a cauldron of water while screaming was very much enjoyed by the audience!

    • Word count: 4459
  15. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    Bassanio gives in and hands the doctor his ring. But when all is found out he is forgiven and everyone is happy. In this essay I will research the differences between the different ways in which Shylock is portrayed and how over the years the audience's reaction has also changed. In the period this play would have been performed, Jews were looked upon very differently as they are now. In Elizabethan England, Jews were traditionally considered to be villains, even though there were no Jews living in England at the time.

    • Word count: 4773
  16. Discuss Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’: is he portrayed as victim or villain.

    By saying this he was saying that he wanted to convert to Christianity, but the spectators saw this as a confession, that he is guilty, but in a matter of fact the spectators see it as him saying I hate the Queen as much as I hate Jesus Christ. The Jewish people were seen as a race apart. They were feared, disliked, persecuted and nomadic. Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Church, once said: "Know, Christian, that next to the devil has no enemy more cruel, more envious and violent than a true Jew."

    • Word count: 2407
  17. Shylock: Villain or Victim?

    They did not return to England until the later half of the seventeenth century. In Elizabethan times, Jews were viewed as devils and bloodthirsty murderers who would poison wells and kill Christian children for their "bizarre" Passover rituals. These were the views that Shakespeare's audiences had of Jews. Shakespeare had never seen a Jew before so he made strong, emotional speeches to make Shylock as human as possible, (Act 3: Scene 1, lines 42-57) even while he was playing the stereotype.

    • Word count: 1548
  18. How do you regard Shylock: as a victim, villain or something else?

    They were ill-treated and seen as the lowest of society. What is important to take into account is that history dates the Merchant of Venice as at the earliest being written in 1594, and at the latest in 1598. This means that Shakespeare wrote the play in a time when there was a general anti-Jewish feeling in England. This may or may not have affected his portrayal of 'the Jew' or Shylock as a victim or villain. Traditionally usury or money lending is seen as a crime in England. The Catholic Church forbade Christians from lending money to others to make a profit (from interest on the repayment).

    • Word count: 1284
  19. Shylock and Anti-Semitism

    Jews are portrayed as a similar character to Satan, Antonio even calls Shylock a devil to his face. Shylock is very religious and a orthadox Jew, almost a religious fanatic when he quotes parts of the Old Testament relating to Jacob and his sheep. For a religious man, his stereotypical profession also made him a villain in many people's eyes, but Jews were not allowed any other jobs. His own daughter Jessica elopes with some of his savings and jewels. If this wasn't vistimising enough she converts to a Christian. His servant Lancelot is also leaving him to serve under Bassanio, also a Christian, whom he hated with a passion due to the abuse he claims, he has received from them.

    • Word count: 1314
  20. By a careful consideration on the ways in which Shylock is presented, examine how far the reader is invited to sympathise with him

    was possibly because up until this time there had been very few Jews (possibly mostly converted to Christianity) as they had been banished from England (mainly due to the above views). In 1594 a (Jewish) Portuguese threat to the throne of England was convicted, hung drawn and quartered for supposedly attempting to poison the Queen (Elizabeth I), this was almost certainly a false accusation. This gives a huge insight into why Shylock is portrayed as he is and how his character would have been received by the British (predominately Christian) audience. This shows that initially the audience was not invited to sympathise with Shylock.

    • Word count: 1737
  21. 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
  22. Merchant of Venice - Central themes

    Jessica is not a stereotypical woman of that century, she is strong willed and knows what she wants "would not have my Father see me in talk with thee." Jessica always speaks her mind "Our house is hell..." Lorenzo as a man of that period would not want a dominant woman. An example of were she does this is when Jessica sends a letter to Lorenzo telling him about what he has to do, "She hath directed how I shall take her from her Fathers house."

    • Word count: 1101
  23. Explore the portrayal of Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”.

    "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge bear him." Already we feel that Shylock is up to no good and tricksters must be prepared for the consequences. Later in the scene though shylock talks to Antonio and we see how Shylock feels about his situation. He sees himself as a victim of Venetian society and especially Antonio. He explains to Antonio how he has tolerated his verbal abuse and reminds him that he called him all these names, "Misbeliever", "cut-throat dog", "void you rheum" and " stranger cur" and now Antonio wants his help.

    • Word count: 1784
  24. Antonio is the merchant of Venice, he’s waiting for his boats to arrive home, and until then he’s not got any money.

    At the end of the story Portia does not reveal her true identity and Antonio hears news that his ships have not been lost at sea and are arriving home soon. The merchant of Venice was based on another play that was written by Phillip Marlow and was called The Jew of Malta. In William Shakespeare time, Jews was hated by all Christians, and what made it worst for the hatred of the Jews, was a Jewish doctor called Rodrigo Lopez that served Queen Elizabeth 1st tried to kill the queen by poison, but failed.

    • Word count: 2640
  25. With Reference to the text, explain how Shakespeare develops the dramatic nature of Act 4 Scene 1, of ‘The Merchant of Venice?’

    In the Elizabethan times, racism of the Jewish religion was of course perfectly acceptable. Jews were often targeted for public humiliation- "Laughed at my losses...mocked at my gains" To live a peaceful life, many Jews hid behind the pretend veil of Christianity, often practising this foreign religion in public to convince other people. This bond between Shylock and Antonio that results in the court scene in Act 4 Scene 1, the dramatic climax of the play. Although it is not the final scene, it is the finale of the "The Merchant of Venice" where all the perplexing sub-plots and main storyline are pulled together to create a shocking ending.

    • Word count: 1621

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