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In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype.

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Introduction

Merchant of Venice - Coursework In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype. The merchant of Venice is a play written in Elizabethan times by William Shakespeare. The play is set in Elizabethan Venice. The play starts with Antonio, a rich merchant, who is depressed without any obvious reason. He denies that he is worried about his merchant ships or that he is in love. Antonio has lent money to his friend Bassanio in the past, but this time Bassanio wants to borrow some money so that he can try for the hand of Portia, who is a wealthy and beautiful heiress. In order to lend Bassanio the money, Antonio himself must borrow money as all of his moneys are on his merchant ships, which are trading to distant countries. Meanwhile, in Belmont, Portia is irritated. This is because of the terms laid down in her father's will. His will says that everyone who wishes to marry her must choose between a casket of gold, silver or lead. Portia must accept the man who chooses the "correct" casket. Also, the suitors must take an oath never to marry if they fail in this contest. Half a dozen totally unsuitable young men leave rather than taking their chances. The next candidate up to choose a casket is the prince of Morocco. Back in Venice, Bassanio has approached a wealthy Jew named Shylock. Shylock is a money lender, who lends money in return for interest and at this time Christians were not allowed to do this. Shylock and Antonio were already enemies. Each of them hates the other person and what they stand for. Antonio admits that he has spat on Shylock "to spit on thee again". ...read more.

Middle

He uses many different techniques in this speech to try and make the audience feel sympathy towards him. He uses examples of Antonio being nasty to him personally, or to other Jews, he tries to make it out that Jews are treated as second - class citizens. He uses Sarcasm and Repetition also. Shylock is basically saying in this speech that he and all of his fellow Jews are mistreated. He refers to himself and his fellow Jews as a "tribe" to further emphasise their outsider status. He uses plenty of Repetition on words such as "You" and "Me" to emphasise his view that he is in the right and Antonio is in the wrong. An actor would place emphasis on these words to portray this view. For instance, in the phrase "you call me misbeliever," the actor would extend the words "you" and "me" and possibly say them a bit louder to victimise Shylock and criminalise Antonio. Shylock even manages to recall an incident in which Antonio was nasty to him, he says "fair sir you spat on me Wednesday last". Here, he is poking fun at Antonio whilst victimising himself at the same time. Also, "fair sir" would be said sarcastically. He is constantly attacking Antonio all the way through the speech. He twists around what Antonio has said about him and throws it back into his face. For instance he says "You call me misbeliever, cut throat dog" and later on in the speech he says, "Hath dog money". Shakespeare also uses a lot of rhetorical questions in Shylock's speeches; they help to emphasise the pain that Shylock feels. This speech would make the audience feel a great deal of sympathy for Shylock, not only has he been mistreated, but so have all of his Jewish "tribe". They have been spat on, spurned and called "dogs". Any audience would feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for Shylock. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this time the audience would be dumbfounded, they can see that the clerk is in fact Portia in disguise, but none of the other characters seem to have noticed. Shylock would be confident at this point still, but growing impatient, as he wants to kill Antonio. This is when the court suddenly turns against Shylock, as Antonio is stripped to the waist and Shylock is about to cut, Portia points out that he is not to spill one drop of blood, and that he is to take exactly a pound of flesh, no more, no less. The forfeit for this will be death. Portia then points out that Shylock has indeed tried to kill a Venetian citizen, directly or indirectly, but he has still tried, for which the forfeit is one half of his goods to the intended victim and the other half going to the state. The Duke spares his life but Antonio is then to finish him off by commanding that he become a Christian. At this point Shylock is suddenly a broken man, he has gone from slavemaster to slave in a matter of seconds. An actor would be broken, on the floor, sobbing, unable to move, he must fully portray the hurt that comes with losing everything that you have except for life. This is when the actor must portray Shylock as a broken man, not as a devil. The Audience would be cheering, as they would now have no sympathy for Shylock whatsoever, they have seen him try to kill Antonio and he has lost. In Conclusion, Shakespeare is trying to portray Shylock as a human being who has lost everything. Shylock is a man who has lost his daughter, his money and his pride. Shakespeare Portrays him as both villainous and humane. Shakespeare shows us that every man has the willingness to kill. Shakespeare gives us unmistakably human moments, but he often steers us against Shylock as well, painting him as a miserly, cruel, and prosaic figure. Robert Matthews ...read more.

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