• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Is the Merchant of Venice more than just a play about money lending? Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


Is the Merchant of Venice more than just a play about money lending? Discuss. 'The Merchant of Venice' is much more than just a play about money lending. The most evident theme of money lending binds together the many other themes that run strongly throughout this play by William Shakespeare. Whichever is the main theme is open to the audience's interpretations. In the Elizabethan period people were very anti-Semitic. The audience back then would not have been shocked at the brutal, disgusting and unjust way in which that Shylock was treated continuously throughout the play. For instance Shylock was not given his own identity, in the play he was mostly referred to just as"The Jew". In our diverse world today there would be no tolerance for such anti-Semitic treatment. Shakespeare had modern thoughts and an advanced understanding for his time. He showed this in 'The Merchant of Venice' by breaking the literary tradition and giving the Jew a main role on stage. Not only that but Shakespeare created pathos for him and gives the Jew dignity and humanity. He also gives Shylock a sense of universality, an example of this is the line "If you prick us, do we not bleed?". ...read more.


The play is lifted up to that new level due to the structure of the play where the nature of good and evil are challenged; there are no characters that are all bad or all good. For example the flawed heroine, Portia, due to her deceit and tricking, and the cold yet sympathetic 'villain' Shylock. Furthermore 'The Merchant of Venice' features the strong theme of revenge which is most evidently displayed by Shylock. He wants to "The villainy you teach me I will execute" As the play goes on Shylocks hunger for revenge escalates due to how poorly he has been treated because of his religion. "If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge!" This sentence shows that he feels it is right to get revenge and that Christians are hypocritical about their mercy and that they would want revenge if it was the other way around. One by one Shylock loses everything, starting with his own anti-Semitic servant Lancelot. Soliloquy is used effectively by the servant to show his thoughts and feelings; "...for I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer". ...read more.


Having pleaded with Shylock to show mercy, she then seems less merciful than him. In conclusion there is much more to 'The Merchant of Venice' than money lending. There are several different themes that add their own characteristic to the play and they are deeply entwined with each other to construct this play. For example, religion plays an important role throughout the play as if each of the characters had stayed true to their respective religion, like Jessica (although this was made difficult for Shylock) there would have been not as much or no conflict to tell of. The play also uses contrasting themes of revenge and love, which also link into the main theme of religion to create a very mixed view of each religion and in particular the loyalty, or lack of, shown to it. Dramatic irony is also effectively used in the play to create humour, with the audience linking the gender of the actors to quotes such as "Ay, if a woman live to be a man.". Overall the play is made up of a variety of themes that all complement each other. Contrasting themes of love and revenge and religion and conflict all help to get Shakespeare's' messages across - money lending just seems to be the storyline to bring them all together. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. Background to the "Merchant of Venice."

    So once again he hasn't been moved! Will he ever give in? I would really have loved to be in a 16th Century audience simply because they would have been shouting and cursing Shylock from deep within. There are still people in the world today who are unwilling to show mercy.

  2. The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of ...

    However, when Antonio is unable to pay his debts to Shylock the conditions of the deal assume a terrifying quality, "I will have my bond! Speak not against it!" What Shylock actually wants to do here is to kill Antonio and make it legitimate by using the idea of the contract.

  1. The Merchant of Venice - how does the use of language style and structure ...

    She uses cunning strategies to effectively confuse the characters' presence in the court. Shakespeare adds a bit of light humour to the tense atmosphere of the trial by the ring plot. Portia and Nerissa test their husbands' love for them.

  2. Discuss the view that 'The Merchant of Venice' is a comedy with tragic possibilities.

    It is up to the reader whether or not Shylock is a comic villain or a tragic hero. Most would portray him as a comic villain and there is a lot of evidence to agree with that. When considering Shylock as the comic villain, the comic hero must be Bassanio.

  1. 'Is, 'The Merchant of Venice' a racist play? Discuss'.

    In the adaptation of 'The Merchant of Venice' Shylock is shown to almost be in tears at this moment in the play. This is exactly as I had imagined it when I first read these lines and is therefore how I think Shylock would be acting.

  2. Is the Merchant of Venice Suitable for a Modern Audience?

    Although Jessica was unhappy at home their relationship in the play is emphasised by them singing a Jewish song together before she elopes. Despite the strong ties of religion and duty to a father Jessica elopes with Lorenzo and converts to Christianity.

  1. The Merchant of Venice is a racist play - Discuss

    Shylock may be seen as a villain, however this is understandable after all the unjust hardships that he has experienced. These hardships include; his daughter, Jessica, eloping with a Christian and taking most of Shylock's money with her; Shylock is constantly teased by Christians because of his religion and because he becomes lonely.

  2. What are the main themes in "The Merchant of Venice"?

    have to work as hard as they are already rich so their need ?to work hard? for money is not as great as in Venice. So overall, Venice is the city where the hard working who does not take money for granted and Belmont is the city of the upper-class who is all rich.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work