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The merchant of Venice

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Introduction

The shifts of tension between Shylock and Antonio, are the most prominent dramatic devices in IV.1 in terms of reflecting issues. Shylock, is treated as an outsider in Venice along with all other Jews, he was an "alien". Physically Jews were separated from Christians in Venice, they were grouped in an outside part of Venice. For identification, and some would argue degradation, Jews were made to wear red hats. This oppression by Christians upon Jews creates tension between Shylock and Christians of Venice. When Bassanio requested 3000 ducats on behalf of Antonio, Shylock proclaimed "I hate him (Antonio) for he is a Christian".(I.3 34) he also explained his personal hate for Antonio was because "he lends out money gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice".(I.3 36) As the only occupation Jews could fulfil was usury, because of the Christian teachings against such acts, Antonio was putting Jews out of Business. The relationship between Shylock and Antonio in the play demonstrates the divide between Christianity and Judaism in the time of Ancient Venice. It is argued by some that the play is a reversal of the Crucifixion of Jesus, this time a Jew persecuting a Christian. It is clear that Jews were not well treated in these times and, through Shylocks long life up to an elderly man he has been made gradually bitter by Christians. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare offers an exploration of this friendship in act IV.1, when Shylock tries to take Antonio's life. He makes an enormous self-sacrifice for Bassanio and treat others with contempt. The loyalty of friendship is tested when Balthazar requests "and for your love I'll take this ring from you" (IV.1 423) Bassanio initially refuses as "this ring was given to me (Bassanio) by my (Bassanio's) wife" (IV.1 437) as Portia stated the loss of it "shall presage the ruin of your love". (V.2 173) However the ease in which he bestowed his ring to Balthazar at Antonio's request demonstrates the loyalty to his friend is more important than a vow to his wife. The different strengths of family bond are key to characters personality in the Merchant of Venice. Shylocks daughter Jessica leaves her father for a Christian, this demonstrates the build up of how Shylock feels he has been repeatedly insulted by Christians. This individual issue reaches a climax in the play when Shylock is ordered that "of all he dies possessed/ Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter" (IV.1 356). Portia's compliance with her courting being "curbed by the will of a dead father" (I.1 21) shows her family loyalty. It demonstrates the importance she puts on a promise to a relative or loved one, or how she made Bassanio promise that when the ring leaves his finger "o then be bold to say Bassanio's dead!" ...read more.

Conclusion

is lost, his "lands and goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate (IV.1 307)". Furthermore if the weight of flesh removed is "less or more" than a pound, "in the estimation of a hair, Thou (Shylock) diest, and all thy goods are confiscate (IV.1 227-228)". Even though Portia's obvious intellect saves Antonio, she was only allowed into the courtroom disguised as a man, this demonstrates that men are still superior, whether it is right or wrong, in Venice. At the end of the trial when it is revealed Portia and Nerrisa were the lawyer and lawyers clerk, therefore revealing that Bassanio and Gratiano gave their rings to their wives, are not irate as Portia earlier stated that the loss of Bassanio's ring "shall presage the ruin of your love(V.2 173)". They are subservient to them, the only consequence is some good-humoured teasing ***. This, again demonstrates that ultimately men govern the women of Venice. Even in the performance of the MOV, the female parts would be played by pre-pubescent boys. The main issue in the merchant of Venice is equality, against common misconception Shakespeare gives the characters that would usually be portrayed as weak, strong lines ?? ?? ?? ?? How do Dramatic Devices Relating to Language and Stagecraft in Act IV scene 1 reflect issues and tensions throughout the play 8/3/06 Oliver Hiam - 1 - ...read more.

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