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How Does William Shakespeare Create and Sustain Tension in the Trial Scene of "The Merchant of Venice"? What would be the Response of an Audience to the Portrayal of Shylock's Character in this Scene?

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Anthony Blakemore How Does William Shakespeare Create and Sustain Tension in the Trial Scene of "The Merchant of Venice"? What would be the Response of an Audience to the Portrayal of Shylock's Character in this Scene? Written sometime between 1596 and 1598, The Merchant of Venice is classified as both an early Shakespearean comedy (more specifically, as a "Christian comedy") and as a problem play; it is a work in which good triumphs over evil, but serious themes are examined and some issues remain unresolved. Before Shakespeare�s time and during his boyhood, troupes of actors performed wherever they could in halls, courts, courtyards, and any other open spaces available. However, in 1574, when Shakespeare was ten years old, the Common Council passed a law requiring plays and theatres in London to be licensed. In 1576, actor and future Lord Chamberlain's Man, James Burbage, built the first permanent theatre called "The Theatre", outside London city walls. After this many more theatres were established, including the Globe Theatre, which was where most of Shakespeare's plays premiered. "The Merchant of Venice" is about 2 Friends who are merchants - Antonio and Bassanio, Bassanio has fell in love with a rich maiden - Portia, and she has also fell in love with him. ...read more.


Pace is also restored when Portia stops Shylock from cutting Antonio's flesh -" Therefore prepare thee to cut off...and all thy goods are confiscate" At this speech from Portia, the audience will be relived that Antonio is not going to be killed and overjoyed that Shylock has been defeated and has gone away as a Christian and empty handed. Another technique of Shakespeare's is to use word devices such as foreshadowing, repetition, word play, puns and animal imagery. He uses foreshadowing several times in this scene, as it is ironic when we later see why a character has said this and it later applies to somebody else. An example of foreshadowing is when the Duke says to Shylock at the beginning of the scene; "How shalt thou hope for mercy rendering none" - he says this when Shylock is control, however at the end of the scene when Portia is in control, Shylock is begging for mercy and this time it is the Duke that needs to give mercy to a man that gives none. Another example of foreshadowing is when Portia is pretending to fight for Shylock. Nevertheless she is only making Shylock say that he obeys the bond and anything that in the bond cannot happen and does not apply; "I crave the law, the penalty and forefeet of my bond." ...read more.


The view of Shylock would have been already sympathetic for losing his daughter and his wife, although it was mainly due to Shylock that Jessica his daughter ran away and we do not know how his wife died. The trial scene is very tragic in a point of view of today's audience and we see Shylock, although a brutal and viscous man very poorly treated. Quite the reverse to an audience from centuries ago. Overall, the trial scene is very dramatic and Shakespeare uses interesting techniques to improve the play for his audiences, The tension in this scene increases and decreases very dramatically which shows that Shakespeare is indeed a talented and most wonderful writer. I enjoyed the play as a whole and especially enjoyed the trial scene although I believe Shylock was conned out of everything, however, after studying Shylock in more detail and in better from I think he deserved all he got for showing no mercy and being greedy. I think that "Portia, The Merchants & Shylock" would have been a better name for the play although it is very basic it includes the main characters of the play unlike "The Merchant of Venice" which is referring to Antonio. I believe Portia played a bigger and more important part in the play than anybody else and deserves her name in the title of the play and more credit than she received. ...read more.

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