- Join over 1.2 million students every month
- Accelerate your learning by 29%
- Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
GCSE: The Merchant of Venice
Meet our team of inspirational teachers
In the Merchant of Venice the character of Shylock excites the interest and sympathy of an audience throughout
Shylocks hatred is intensified when his daughter Jessica absconds with a young Christian nobleman Lorenzo. News then comes that Antonio's ships have been lost at sea, and so Shylock takes him to court to demand his pound of flesh. Portia, having now been betrothed to Bassanio after he chose the correct casket, disguises herself as a lawyer and goes to court with her maid Nerissa to help Antonio. She defeats Shylock on a technicality; he can cut off the pound of flesh providing he sheds not a drop of Christian blood. Overjoyed at Antonio's release, Bassanio pays the 'lawyer' with a ring that Portia game him as a keepsake.
- Word count: 2173
Through this Shylock has developed an unhealthy obsession with money, 'I dream of money tonight'. Shylock uses his money to ensnare the needy. He charges high interest in the form of bonds which is not right. If you are Jewish you have to wear a red hat when out you also have to live in a certain area of the town called a 'ghetto'. All the Jewish people who live in the ghetto have a curfew and the gates are locked at a certain time. These reasons make us feel sympathetic towards Shylock and this shows he is victimized because of his religion.
- Word count: 2198
Salerio and Solanio try to make sense of his sadness, suggesting his capital is in danger. Antonio denies, and states that even if true, would not be the reason for his upset. Unable to lift the spirits of Antonio, Salerio and Solanio exit and Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano enter. Gratiano and Lorenzo joke with Antonio to some avail, before leaving him and Bassanio alone. Bassanio, meets Antonio, with financial difficulties, in order to borrow more money for the wooing of an heiress in Belmont, Portia.
- Word count: 2598
The merchant of venice, Modern audiences probably find it difficult to accept Shylock as a comic villain who deserves his ultimate fate, to what extent, if at all, would you agree?
All that was known about Jews and their religion and customs were from vague rumour and reputation mixed with horrifying wives tales. Christians believed that Jews possessed magical powers, which they had acquired by making a pact with the Devil. Jews were therefore associated with Elizabethan witches. The stereotypical Jewish features consisted of a long, hooked nose, a swarthy complexion and Jews were believed to worship the devil. Theatre audiences also expected Jews to be portrayed according to the Jewish stereotype and the playwrights of the Elizabethan era gave their audiences what they anticipated to see, emphasising the hilarity of 'Christ - killing' characters by dressing them in exotic clothes and giving them ridiculous hair styles.
- Word count: 2138
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
They were only allowed to be moneylenders. During this period of time, England was a Christian populated country. The Jews were treated as second class citizens; they were not allowed to own properties, have proper jobs and they had to wear unique clothing. Jews had to wear a skull cap, this was coloured red and it represented the blood of Jesus Christ.
- Word count: 2786
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
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
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
The two halves of the story therefore come together in this scene. In Act 1 Scene 3, it appears that Shylock's hatred of Antonio is not solely religiously motivated, but more from a business perspective; in lines 37-39 he says: "I hate him for he is a Christian; But more, for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis..." As Shylock was a moneylender by trade, he charged interest on loans, something which was heavily frowned upon by Catholics at the time.
- Word count: 2530
Depicted as a villain to many readers, Shylock shows his true feelings towards Antonio, aside to the audience, 'I hate him for he is a Christian'. As well as proving his hatred of Christians, this does nothing for the sympathy towards him from the audience; A Shakespearian audience would immediately dislike Shylock. He also states that Antonio 'lends out money gratis'. This shows that Shylock's reasons for hating Antonio are not only because he is a Christian and the way he treats Shylock and fellow Jews, but also the fact that he lends money to people without charging interest, hence which adversely affects Shylock's livelihood.
- Word count: 2229
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
England even began to expel Jews and consequently seized their lands. In Shakespeare's era, a Portuguese Jew, called Lopez was accused to have tried and failed killing Queen Elizabeth I. Although extreme measures by the Queen to ensure he was spared, Lopez was hanged in 1594 and this new spark in racism built up devastating pressure on Jews. Shakespeare's play itself may have been taken from a previous play, 'The Jew of Malta' by Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe's Jew was called Barabas and similarly to Shylock, he was a usurer but Marlowe made his "Jew" much more vicious and devious.
- Word count: 3310
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
Discuss the Ways in Which the Themes of Love and Hate are Explored and Presented in Act One in The Merchant of Venice
Shylock's hatred for Antonio (which will be discussed in the latter part of this essay) results in him tricking Antonio into an oath where upon the loan not being repaid, the penalty will be a pound of his flesh. This implies that Antonio is willing to give up his life for his friend to stand a chance with Portia. Another possible explanation to Antonio's behaviour is that he may be in love with Bassanio himself. This is never described directly in the play but a number of hints arise that leave this open as to a possibility.
- Word count: 1724
Before Shylock leaves the house in act 2 scene 5 he tells her to lock it up. He does this not out of love, but because he is worried about his money. He also wants to keep the anti-Semitic behaviour of the outside world away from her and his house. Jessica also has the problem of having no motherly figure around to love her, or more to the point to teach her father to love again. Jessica's last dilemma is knowing whether to leave her father for a Christian (Lorenzo) or not, especially when she already felt bad about being a dutiful daughter to Shylock.
- Word count: 2707
The lower people in society would have to stand in 'the pit' if they wanted to watch a performance. The rich people would throw their rubbish down onto the poor and it was very rarely cleaned after each performance, which meant the smell was worse each time you went. Because of the standing audience, the stage was slanted slightly so they could see everything that was going on in the play. Today we are all treated the same and are all given a suitable seat within the theatre.
- Word count: 2705
(I, iii, 99). Nonetheless he unfortunately proceeds to accept the 'merry bond' (I. iii, 69) at face value, thinking that Shylock 'grows kind' (I, iii, 174). Bassanio is less confident: 'I like not fair terms and a villain's mind' (I, iii, 176). The ability to look below the surface and perceive true values is exactly what the test of the caskets is designed for. Morocco learns that 'All that glisters is not gold' (II, vii, 65), and Arragon is sped on his way with a maxim on the same theme (II, ix, 69-70): There be fools alive iwis, Silvered o'er,
- Word count: 704
This quote by shylock highlights his hate for Antonio and Christians thereby, thinking he will have fulfilled his revenge. Shylock feels he has been wronged and ill-treated and says he will punish Christians far worse than what they have already done; "Teach me I will execute and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." This shows shylock talking about being vengeful which makes him a villain because he will do worse than the Christians have done to him as revenge. Shylock hated Antonio because of his faith. We can see where this is evident when shylock declines an invitation to dinner, "I hate him for he is a Christian."
- Word count: 1101
Venice, during the Elizabethan times, was notorious for its diverse cultures and its fortunes. Many valuable goods from the Mediterranean were sold there. England was not an ideal setting because hardly anyone had interactions with Jewish people. Venice had many different cultures, so it was a suitable setting for a Jew to live in. Shylock's representation continued to be comic until the late eighteenth century. He was also viewed to be a villain around this time. In 1814 Shylock's character was played to be sympathised with and in 1879 he was portrayed to be a tragic victim.
- Word count: 1986
Shylock is portrayed in three different lights, the first as a villain; secondly a victim of racial taunts, and thirdly a comedian laughing back at all the Christians. Shylocks character was based on Barabas the main character in Marlowe's "Jew of Malta". Some critics say that Shakespeare copied his idea. The first scene in the play opens with Antonio's sadness, his vast amounts of friends are all curious as to why he is sad. "In sooth I know not why I am sad".
- Word count: 4610
Merchant of venice, discuss the relationship between shylock and antonio in scene 1 and scene 3 of act 1
He feels quite silly because of his sadness, I can see this from where he mention "and such a want-wit (idiot) sadness makes of me". This shows us that Antonio is usually a very upbeat and solemn person because he feels embarrassed of his depression. We can see that Antonio is a keen businessman from where he says "my merchandise makes me not sad" answering a question from one of his friends, telling them that it isn't his business which is troubling him. When Solanio asks Antonio if he is in love, he bluntly replies with "fie fie" meaning nonsense.
- Word count: 712
Even worse, Antonio admits he has done these awful things, and he will very likely to do it again. 'I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too' (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 125-126) Antonio also takes away a lot of Shylock's business and money as he lends money out to people without any interest. Even though Antonio has done all these things to Shylock, I still cannot see, and the audience must feel that it is not enough for someone to take someone's life away from them.
- Word count: 1699
She is cultured, refined, young and beautiful. Portia is one of the intellectual heroines of Shakespeare. Her intellect is seen in wit, which is an expression of her wisdom. When we are first introduced to her in the play , she comments on the various suitors that have already arrived and her comments in each case are witty. Portia shows wisdom in carrying out her plan of appearing in court of Venice, disguised as a lawyer. She conducts the case with ability. Actually her wit and wisdom have made her character interesting to the readers. Portia is an aristocratic woman.
- Word count: 690
The ghettos were often densely populated and many Jews died of hunger and disease because of poverty and social restrictions. Throughout history, many rulers, empires and nations have oppressed their Jewish populations or have attempted to eradicate them entirely such as the Holocaust during World War II when Hitler forced the Jews into concentration camps and executed them one by one. Ultimately, the contents of this play are comedy, love and betrayal, meaning that it fulfils the audience at the time by condemning and/or serving justice to the evil characters (Shylock is the villain in this case)
- Word count: 2619