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"It is money, above all, that produces conflict and concord throughout the play." Discuss the truth of this statement with close reference to The Merchant of Venice.

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Introduction

Term 3 Literature Assignment: The Merchant of Venice Name: Wong Yun Sheng Calvin [2O/23] Question 2: "It is money, above all, that produces conflict and concord throughout the play." Discuss the truth of this statement with close reference to The Merchant of Venice. I shall first begin my essay by concentrating upon the conflicts between friendship and love in The Merchant of Venice. Looking at I.i., conflict has already begun between the 2 realms of friendship and love as signified by Antonio's sadness. He is upset that Bassanio has transferred his affections for him to a woman, Portia. Bassanio is a gallant. He does not work, but gains money from his family inheritance. However he states that he has spent too much of it away, and explains his "plots and purposes" (I.i.133) to get his money back. He explains that he needs Antonio's help to achieve them. Unwittingly however, he drags Antonio down into a conflict between Antonio and Shylock later on in the story. Another conflict has also been pointed out within this scene, which is the conflict between love and money. ...read more.

Middle

One cannot help noticing that Bassanio's fight for Portia is nothing more than pure romance. I.iii brings to us the first sign of conflict between Antonio and Shylock, foreshadowing the horrendous event that is to happen later. Bassanio attempts to secure the money he needs from Shylock, a usurer, or a moneylender that charges high rates of interest. Notice the evident religious conflict here. Shylock is enjoying the power he now holds over Antonio and Bassanio, for he knows that they are relying on him now, and no matter how rude he is, they still need him. When Bassanio offers to let Shylock dine with them, he refuses, and in the process says that Christian manners are obscene and repugnant. Shylock bears an ancient grudge against Antonio, not only because of religious differences, but also because of money, for the fact that Antonio disapproves of usury and has lent money to people without charging interest, thus reducing the amount of business that Shylock can obtain. Antonio also faces conflict within himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

Money here actually brings about a conflict that destroys the love between Jessica and Shylock. Shylock actually wishes that his "daughter were dead at my feet/and the ducats in her ear". It is not as if Shylock is an unfeeling man, as is frequently portrayed amongst the Elizabethan audience. Shakespeare shows that he still has love and kindness within him, for his sorrow is emphasised when he realizes that Jessica has sold his love for his wife away for a mere monkey. Again, this emphasies the conflict between love and money. As Shylock said, he would not have given it away for a wilderness of monkeys, but yet the love and sentimental value of the ring has been sold away, for 1 monkey which again puts some monetary value into love. This is also why Shylock's love for Jessica is destroyed here, for money and greed have overpowered him, and also because Jessica has commodified his love for another. With this, I conclude that money is and will always be the foremost factor that initiates conflict and violence, not only in the theatrical world of Shakespeare, but in our own real worlds as well. ...read more.

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