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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  1. Discuss whether the Merchant of Venice is not worthy of study because the characters in the play do not show their good sides.

    I believe that the text teaches us about racism and how nasty it can be and why it is a bad thing that we should discard from today's society. We can see how racism affects Shylock and how it develops his need for revenge. We can also see how distraught he becomes and how the racists take everything he has. I feel that the play is saying that if we try to take revenge then it can backfire on us.

    • Word count: 1094
  2. Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    The Christians pictured the Jews as inferior because of their religion. Shakespeare made shylock as a very interesting and an entertaining character, because he was able to capture sympathy and understanding from the audience towards Shylock. If Shakespeare had written Shylocks character showing that he was backing up Jews he could have lost his head for that! Shakespeare has made Shylock a very avaricious character this aspect of him can be seen in the very first line he says 'Three Thousand Ducats.

    • Word count: 1351
  3. Is Shylock treated fairly?

    As some Christian's did this, the Jews hated them even more because who would go to a person who charges interest on money borrowing, when they could attain it for free? Also, because one of the only reasons the Jews lived in Venice was lending money, this made them hate some of the Christians even more e.g. Antonio. In the play you can quite clearly see how Shylock is treated, whether you think this is fair or not, is entirely up to you.

    • Word count: 2838
  4. In detail explain how Shakespeare creates and draws out the character of Shylock as ‘The Merchant of Venice’ progresses.

    In 'The Merchant of Venice' Shylock has a few redeeming qualities and is allowed to be seen as human. However it was not good to go against the popular opinions of the common people at the time as it was mostly the common people who went to see plays, and Jews in Elizabethan times were seen as devils and extortionists taking money from poor Christians. I intend to examine whether it was Shakespeare's intention to use this stereotype in 'The Merchant of Venice' or if he was trying to show the softer side of Shylock, and allow him to be seen as a human being.

    • Word count: 4641
  5. Shakespeare’s three women characters – Portia, Nerissa and Jessica – are portrayed as typical women of their time. Discuss

    Firstly all three had very short courtships; I think this is because in Shakespeare's era women only had status through their fathers or husbands. Women couldn't even own property. We see this when Portia marries Bassanio, "This house, these servants, and this same myself Are yours, my lord's" Her father, despite the fact that he is dead, controls Portia. She isn't allowed to choose her own husband and is tied by her fathers will to marry the man who picks the right casket, we know this because right at the beginning of the play Portia says, "O me, the word 'choose'!

    • Word count: 1686
  6. Shylock is portrayed throughout the entire play as both a villain and a victim and nowhere more so than through the drama of the courtroom scene.Do you agree with this statement?

    Do you agree with this statement? : This is the question that I am being asked. Everything I do must be linked with it. I am going to start with looking at the stimulus, the Merchant of Venice. Then I move on to Shylock's past. Then I will move on to looking at how Shylock is treated by different people, first how Basanio and Antonio treat him in Act1 Scene 3. Then I will look at how his own daughter, Jessica treats him and what she thinks of him, in Act 2 Scene 3 and Act 2 Scene 5.

    • Word count: 2336
  7. Act 4 Scene 1 is the dramatic climax to the play. Analyse how Shakespeare achieves dramatic effect in this scene. (Pay attention to context, characterisation, action, use of language, aspects of staging and any element of contemporary importance.)

    He is considered an alien in Venice as he dresses differently, comes from a different back ground and culture. We also learn of Shylock's hatred towards Christians and Antonio, before he even says a word to Antonio he lets the audience now of his hatred towards Antonio. 'How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian.' Shylock also shows an element of belligerence in his refusal to ever forgive the Christians. We also see how devious and cunning he is in the way he tells Antonio he wants to be friends with him and saying the bond is just a 'merry sport'.

    • Word count: 2840
  8. Theatre Programme - The Merchant of Venice

    "I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you." This passage tells us that Shylock was willing to offer his profit-making services to Christians but was not prepared to socialise with them. The bond plot begins with Antonio becoming one of Shylock's customers of a loan. Shylock agreed to the three thousand ducats Antonio requested, but instead of charging interest he said if he could not pay him back he would have his bond, which was one pound of flesh from any part of Antonio's body.

    • Word count: 2056
  9. Shylock is one of Shakespeare’s most interesting and challenging characters, how do you explain his actions, motivations and final predicament?

    Whatever it is, Shylock, is trying to say, I very much agree with his point of view and feel that Jews have been treated wrongly by some and that everybody is equal and entitled to their own beliefs. Next I would like to discuss how Shylock speaks. Shylock speaks in a very vindictive manner and thinks that everything he says is correct, he seems to try to intimidate Antonio by speaking of religion. This can be shown by the following quote made by Shylock.

    • Word count: 1006
  10. In the Elizabethan period it was a literary traditionthat Jews were portrayed in a derogatory way. Write about Shakespeare’s presentation of Shylock throughout the play “Merchant if Venice”.

    One example of this was Shakespeare's own friend, Christopher Marlowe, and his play 'The Jew of Malta'. This is one reason why Shakespeare wrote 'The Merchant of Venice' at this time, as the audience wanted to see plays involving Jews, and so he could hopefully emulate the response that the previous plays about Jews received. Also at this time a much talked about, real life trial of a Jew was taking place. Queen Elizabeth's Portuguese doctor was accused of treason; it was claimed that he attempted to poison her. In 1594 he was found guilty and executed, although after his death it became known that he was probably innocent.

    • Word count: 3465
  11. Write about a play, film, poem or book which has altered your outlook on life.

    Ancient English words did hinder me, but looking beyond them made me feel the true meaning of the words... It talks about a Jew, Shylock, being condemned in a Venetian society, whereby his money-lending business was seen as some sort of sin. And so, he was subjected to great humiliation and mockery, and outcaste by the Christians, which made him harbour thoughts of revenge and eventually execute them. His yearn of fairer treatment led to a vehement pursuit of justice, where he learns the significance of mercy. Some of the more recognised parts of the play include the 'Quality of Mercy" speech and the "Revenge" speech.

    • Word count: 1651
  12. How sympathetic would an Elizabethan audience have been to Shylock and in what ways might this be different from the reaction of a modern audience?

    Jew's are not the only money lenders nowadays so unusual bonds like the one in the merchant of Venice do not occur. In Elizabethan times the attitude towards Jews was that they didn't belong, they were thought of as foreign and strange. This was typical for the time, as discrimination was not thought of as being wrong in Elizabethan times. A modern attitude would be much different because most people are against racial hatred, colour prejudice and class distinction. The Christians in the play - especially Antonio and his friends, who did not hide the fact they hated Shylock - treat him as if he is a villain.

    • Word count: 1065
  13. The Merchant of Venice: Who shows more prejudice, the Christians or the Jews?

    Another reason that the Christians didn't like the Jews was because they needed them. Jews were traditionally stereotyped as money lenders, and although not every Jew was one, most were. It was against the law to be a money lender in Elizabethan England, and so although people didn't want to borrow money, they had to. The Jews were the people that the Christians needed, and so they disliked them. Jews hated the Christians for hating them. Shylock however then goes on to say that he also hates Antonio because he is bad for business.

    • Word count: 2494
  14. “Shylock victim or villain?”

    Christians hated Jews because they were almost always money lenders which was a job given to them because, by Christian rules they were not able to do it, Jews were rarely allowed to own land or take part in trade and so they had to take full advantage of lending money. In Venice at the time that the play was written it was mainly populated by Christians who lived in the centre with the Jews around the outside, they were seen as outsiders and demoralised because of their religion.

    • Word count: 2108
  15. How important are bonds and promises in ‘The Merchant of Venice’?

    This tells us that Bassanio is able to confide in Antonio, showing a stable friendship. In this extract Antonio seems to be the dominant figure out of the two. However as we read on, we discover that there is a shift in power: Then do but say to me what I should do That in your knowledge may by me be done, And I am prest unto it: therefore speak. This proves significant to the bond they have between them as it also shows that they have a balanced relationship. It is also effective in terms of informing the audience that their friendship is impenetrable.

    • Word count: 1882
  16. The Duke describes Shylock as a ‘Stony adversary, and inhuman wretch.’ Did Shakespeare intend us to hate Shylock?

    From the moment we meet Shylock, we see that he is very against the Christian faith. "...To eat the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into..." Here, Shylock is referring to Jesus and scorning Christianity. This would have caused much upset in Shakespeare's audience. Immediately, they would not have liked Shylock, as many were Christian and very anti-Semitic. The first insight we get of Shylock's character portrays him to be very mysterious and not very approachable. He is making Bassanio wait to know whether he can borrow 3000 ducats. Shylock teases him and delays in giving him his answer.

    • Word count: 2011
  17. How does Shakespeare demonstrate that love and friendship can overcome greed in the Merchant of Venice?

    It also shows that the friendship is stronger than any greed which may be found inside Antonio. Bassanio then tells Antonio of the reason behind his need for money, love. Bassanio is besotted by Portia of Belmont, and he enthusiastically describes before saying 'O my Antonio, had I but the means To hold a rival place with one of them, I have a mind presages me such thrift, That I should questionless be fortunate.' This is a direct address to Antonio, and the first words, 'O my Antonio' are a climax spoken with intensity and eagerness following the enthusiastic description of Portia.

    • Word count: 1915
  18. Discuss the significance of Act 4 in the structure of the play as a whole. You should comment on the development of the characters, the themes of the play and anything else you find of interest.

    His greed is sometimes seen bigger than Shylock's because he satisfies it by depending on others without repaying. Greed of most of the characters is seen quite often in the play. Portia, the upstanding and honourable heiress seems strongly attached to her wealth. In the first act Antonio is telling Bassanio he should attempt to win Portia and her money to pay off his debts. He says, " In Belmont is a fair lady richly left..." He then goes on to discuss her other advantages but it is her wealth that obviously catches his attention.

    • Word count: 1338
  19. Friends, Enemies, Lovers, Gossip, Rumour and Money. How and in what ways are these important to the Merchant of Venice?

    The audience will be interested to examine why Antonio is melancholy. Solanio attempts to find out why Antonio is sad and offers a suggestion, 'Why then you are in love'. This is dismissed by Antonio, the audience has now perceived he has no lover. Solanio becomes curious of Antonio's sadness but is interrupted by the arrival of Bassanio. Solanio dictates that Bassanio and Antonio are greater friends than he and Antonio, 'I would have stayed till I have made you merry if worthier friends had not prevented me'. This implies to the audience that other characters are also aware that Bassanio and Antonio's friendship is very intimate.

    • Word count: 1763
  20. The Merchant of Venice The Director’s Interpretation.

    The play made me feel no sympathy towards him as he was taking a man's life away and that he was the one who should be at the receiving end of the knife not poor Antonio and that he showed no remorse for what he was about to do. However in the film I saw a man who was six foot tall and was a proud man, who I felt the other characters were persecuting for being a Jew. When he was being referred to in the play he was referred to as the Jew not Shylock.

    • Word count: 1472
  21. Women Struggling To Escape As A Theme In Cousin Kate , A Willing Mistress and 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

    Nerissa points that if the german chooses the right casket and Portia refuses to marry him then Portia would be refusing to perform her father?s will. Portia replies by saying that she would place a glass of wine in the wrong casket so that the vile german chooses it and would not be able to marry Portia. So, we can see that Portia is prepared to influence the lottery her father had devised for her wooers, to get her own means.

    • Word count: 2682
  22. How does Shakespeare make this passage from Act 3 Scene 1 dramatic and powerful for the audience?

    Shakespeare emphasises the word ?my? and repeats it three times in this short section again to try to reinforce the ownership Shylock has over her but also perhaps the feelings of love and dependence Shylock has for her as well. However Salarino and Solanio next reply with an insult, that says Shylock is completely unlike Jessica by comparing them by using the metaphor ?red wine and Rhenish (white). It indicates that the two Christians believe that one?s manners, or ones willingness to be Christian, define relatedness instead of ?flesh and blood?.

    • Word count: 1567
  23. More sinned against, than sinning How far do you agree with this description of how Shylock Is presented in the play?

    As a opposed to the sombre theme of love that dominates 1.1 and 1.2, Shakespeare make the audience focus of the word hate, creating a contrast between the three scenes emphasising Shylock?s treatment. Next we see Antonio actively berating Shylock, and comparing him to the devil (a theme repeated throughout the play). Shakespeare uses words like ?evil? and ?villain? to describe Shylock, all of which have dark connotations but at the same time emphasise the contemptuous nature in which Antonio treats Shylock, something the audience would pick upon.

    • Word count: 3110
  24. Explore the ways in which Shakespeare makes Act 1.1 of Merchant of Venice such a dramatic and interesting start to the play?

    By emphasizing that he doesn?t know the cause of his own sadness, Shakespeare creates a mystery around his own character. It is a mystery that somewhat demands Antonio?s friends to interpret what?s wrong with him and therefore creates a more interesting and dramatic start to the play. After Antonio lament, his two friends Solanio and Salarino try to suggest the causes of his sadness. One striking feature of their speeches is the use of imagery and metaphors by Shakespeare to dramatise their conversation with Antonio.

    • Word count: 1546
  25. The Merchant of Venice Newspaper Article - Portia and the caskets

    Portia reminds him, that if he chooses the wrong casket, he must remain unmarried forever. Morocco is attracted by the richness of the gold casket, which promises ?what many men desire?, but he finds within it an image of a death's head and a scroll. Morocco fails as he cannot imagine hazarding all in pursuit of happiness and he judges the gold casket by its appearance. ?I have too griev?d a heart to take a tedious leave: thus losers part,? Prince of Morocco, told the Venizia Courant.

    • Word count: 1009

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