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Shakespeare's "The merchant of Venice". How can an audience's sympathies towards the characters in act 4, scene 1 be radically different according to the interpretation of a director?

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Introduction

Shakespeare's "The merchant of Venice" How can an audience's sympathies towards the characters in act 4, scene 1 be radically different according to the interpretation of a director? Racism, feminism, power, religion, justice and mercy; Shakespeare's complex moralistic notions fill an eventful and crucial scene in the play-"The Merchant of Venice". The first scene of the fourth act completes the separate storylines and brings them all to an end, producing a scene with immense impact and a frenzy of morals. However the audience's perception of the characters can only be determined by the director's analysis of the flexible personas and judgments the characters possess. I think that the play, scene one act four especially, has a wide range of possibilities for different styles of acting and the director's opinion will have changed a lot since Shakespeare's time. As we have evolved, we have become more aware of feminism, justice and racial issues, the modern view on social equality has matured a great deal, which means that the director of today would probably play the characters' actions to be less racist then would be accepted for Shakespeare's audience, but did Shakespeare intend for the play to be interpreted as a moralistic piece which was trying ...read more.

Middle

Antonio tells the court room to let Shylock win and to take his pound of flesh because he is worthless and useless to anyone. I think that Antonio at this point seems very depressive and weak; he is willing to die for a friend as he was willing to give his money. "You cannot better employed Bassanio, Than to live still and right mine epitaph." Shakespeare's interpretation of Antonio at this point seems to be as though he wrote Antonio as the victim of the play and is trying to influence feelings of sympathy from the audience, But as we see later on in the play, Shakespeare's complex morals round off the play with an interesting twist of roles. I see Shylock and Antonio in this scene as two children playing on a see-saw: At the beginning of the scene Shylock puts Antonio on the see-saw and sits on it himself. When Shylock rises on the see-saw, Antonio falls, and when Antonio rises, Shylock falls. When Shylock is feeling extremely powerful and full of glory, he is pushed off the see-saw by Portia and Antonio now rises higher than Shylock and kicks him while he's down. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think the lack of importance of the law in this scene shows that Venice is a very prejudiced town, the minority are frowned upon immorally, and I think that Shakespeare was trying to establish this to his audience; he was, in a way mocking the system in which Venice lived by in his times. In my opinion Shakespeare sympathises with everyone in this scene: Shylock "the Jew" by giving him some sympathy from the audience, Antonio for giving such a weak character a moment of power and control, and Portia for giving her the chance to shine as a women and outdo her husband. Shakespeare shows us evidence of the Christian's lack of mercy towards Shylock, even when he is on his knees and begging for his life, but we also see Shylock's merciless and eagerness for blood and revenge against Antonio. I think Shakespeare is trying to show his audience how vicious people can be no matter what religion, and that we are all equal no matter what religion or sex we are. Racism, feminism, power, religion, justice and mercy. Shakespeare teaches his audience a lesson in all of these years ago, and we can still learn from them today, as the characters direction is left open for development as the years go on. BY AMALIE SILVANI-JONES ...read more.

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