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Shakespeare successfully combines elements of comedy, irony, sadness, horror and justice in

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The Merchant of Venice The play centres on two main characters, Antonio, an extremely wealthy merchant and Shylock, a very wealthy Jew. In Venice, a person's word was their bond. A promise made by word of mouth was the same as having an agreement in writing; they had to keep their word or pay the consequences. Shylock is a usurer, a person who lends sums of money to others, charging vast amounts of interest. However, Antonio also lends amounts of money, but minus the interest. This is one of the main reasons why Shylock hates Antonio, as Antonio is supposedly causing Shylock's profits to drop. Shylock also hates Antonio for the differences in their lifestyles and religions. Shylock has agreed to lend a sum of money to Antonio. As part of the agreement, Shylock insists that if his money is not returned within a designated period of time, with the added interest, he would be entitled to cut exactly one pound of flesh from Antonio's body. It is this bond between Shylock and Antonio that results in the court scene in Act 4 Scene 1, the dramatic climax of the play. ...read more.


Shylock doesn't like his daughter because she has betrayed him twice by running off wit Gentile. With very strong language, Shylock wishes that Jessica "Were dead at my foot" (act 3, Scene 1, Line 50). This wish for his daughter's death revokes much of the sympathy created by the former plea for the recognition of his humanity. Shakespeare yet again paints a picture of a malignant, murderous Jew who, in this instance is willing to kill his only daughter for the sake of a few ducats. This greed for money is recognized by this repetition of his demands for his bond to be followed and the constant reminder of how much he has lent Antonio - three thousand ducats. This gives the reader a powerful impression of whom and what the character of Shylock is as a person. With these thoughts in the audience's heads, it is easy to see why Shylock is doomed from the start of the trail even before it has begun. "The Merchant of Venice" is a comedy, so the audience knows that the play is set to include a harmonious ending. ...read more.


This statement is obviously aimed at Shylock as he has jus proclaimed "On what compulsion must I?" (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 179), the reason for saying this is to show that he has no mercy whatsoever. This is an extremely powerful speech, full of references to Christianity and God. Portia, in effect, personifies mercy as being like the qualities of a king. In Elizabethan times, it was believed that God chose all kings. Portia creates the impression she is agreeing with Shylock and his merciless bond "You must prepare your bosom for his knife" (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 241). Shylock is ecstatic that Portia is on his side, he obviously admires her judgment, calling her, "o excellent young man!" (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 242). The audience's appetite for blood is whetted and it seems almost certain they are going to see it until Portia makes an important discovery. By now, the audience will be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what is going to happen. In the bond, not one drop of Christian blood may be spilt. Of course this would be an impossible task to perform and it is here that the dramatic turning point of the play occurs. ...read more.

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