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Is the Merchant of Venice Suitable for a Modern Audience?

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Introduction

Is the Merchant of Venice Suitable for a Modern Audience? William Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers of our time. He has written plays that are known all around the world and are studied as part of our education. What he wrote in the 16th Century is still as relevant today as it was then, which is why many people throughout the world admire and perform his work. The plays he has written have varied from romances (Romeo & Juliet), to tragedies (MacBeth), and comedies (As you like it). The Merchant of Venice is a about a merchant, Antonio, who is asked for a loan by his dearest friend, Bassiano. Bassiano needs the money for a voyage to Belmont, where he hopes to win over the wealthy Portia. Antonio has to borrow money from Shylock. They agree on a bond that there will be no interest, but if it is not paid within three months Shylock is entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh. The way that the whole plot evolved around money is very clever. ...read more.

Middle

Shylock is a Jew, he is a moneylender. He has no respect for Christians because of the anti-Semitic attitudes that were wide spread at that time. Shakespeare uses religious prejudice as background to decides who is the `goodie` and the `baddy` in the play. When Shylock comes onto the stage he is usually greeted by `boo's`, this adds to the atmosphere at the theatre and keeps the audience more involved in the play. In the script Shakespeare made Shylocks character appear selfish. When Antonio couldn't pay the debt, any other merchant probably would have extended the deadline but not Shylock. He resented Antonio because he lent money to his friends with no interest. This also reduced Shylocks income and for this reason he wanted revenge against Antonio There are strong themes of racism in the play. Because of this some think that it is inappropriate to be taught in schools. In the play Shylock stands out more than any other character, he is the villain of the piece. Racism against Jews was very strong in those days, which influenced the way the play was written. ...read more.

Conclusion

When we read through the play at school I found it long and tedious, but watching the play at the theatre helped me to understand the subtleties of the humour. When I watched the play I found the actors/actresses enthusiasm brought the script to life and I understood and laughed more at the humour, which made it more interesting and enjoyable. When reading the play, I didn't think it was one of Shakespeare's finest plays but when I went to the theatre it was a full house. I think that by adding comedy to the play makes it livelier. The merchant of Venice shows a modern audience that the themes in the play are as relative today as it was then. How love can or cannot be mistaken, how greed motivates peoples actions, how true friendship is worth more than money and how racism affects society. Although it was set about 400 years ago, it shows how little the differences in society and religion have changed. I think that the Merchant of Venice portrays the problems generated by greed, racism and revenge. I also think that because of the amount of racism in it, it could influence the younger audience. Alastair Beal 1 of 3 ...read more.

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