• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Merchant of Venice- William Shakespeare.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare This play incorporates themes of racial hatred and prejudice. Examine the attitudes of Portia, Antonio and Shylock. Explain in detail how Shakespeare used these attitudes to create different dramatic effects. Attitudes and social conventions have changed since Shakespeare's time. In what ways has this altered our perception of these three characters and our reactions to them? Throughout the play various themes of racial hatred and prejudice are incorporated. The attitudes of Portia, Antonio, Shylock and others amplify this. These attitudes are used by Shakespeare to create different dramatic effects. Our perception of these three characters has changed since Shakespeare's time, this due to the change in attitudes and social conventions. Throughout the play Portia shows a range of examples of racial discrimination and hatred. She does this while she also being prejudiced against, she is prejudiced against because of her female gender. Portia showed racial discrimination and hatred toward her potential international marriage partners. Portia passes comments on a Moroccan Prince, where she states that she would simple refuse to marry the man because of skin colour and race. "If he have the condition of a saint, and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me." I believe this disregard and racial hatred is caused, because in the 16th century the marriage, socialisation and accepting of international people was different from how it is today. ...read more.

Middle

This subversion is very successful, as not only does the whole court believe she is a man, she also wins the case. Throughout the play Antonio shows typical racial discrimination toward Shylock the Jew. Antonio and Shylock hate each other, however all the hatred is not due to a racial difference. As a Christian Antonio borrows money and demands no interest on his loan. As Shylock was Jewish he could not work in Venice in a respected profession such as that of a doctor or a lawyer. Therefore to earn a living he would loan money to people and profit of the interest. During the play, Bassanio needs some money in order to capture his love interest, Portia. At that specific point, all of Antonio's money is tied up at sea in various ships, so Antonio needs to borrow the money. Consequently Antonio and Shylock come to an agreement in which Shylock loans three thousand ducats to Antonio and demands no interest upon the re-payment of the money. However the stipulation is if Antonio is one day late with his payment then Shylock can lawfully cut one pound of flesh from Antonio. The Christian agrees to this bond, as he believes his ships will come in dwelling three times the amount to be paid a month before the bond is due. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the court when the tables have been turned upon Shylock, the Christians spare the Jew's life and in doing so show mercy. In The Merchant of Venice we see Shylock, as a character who can be viewed in many different ways, this is due to the audience of the time. Up until the late 1700s he was played as a comic character but the 1700s onwards saw him played as more of a villainous character. In 1814 Shylock's role was depicted as a character to be pitied, and in 1879 he was first portrayed as a tragic character; this giving The Merchant of Venice its title of "tragicomedy". Since then he has been depicted in many different ways and has reaped sympathy from the audience ever since the unjustness towards Jews in the Second World War. Shakespeare showcased each character bringing out their racial views and prejudices and showing how prejudice had its impact on them in their turn, in order to persuade the audience to think through the different ideas. He creates different dramatic effects by involving the audience. He forces the crowd to relate to the characters, so they are not just sitting passive. He manipulates the audience therefore the play is enjoyed more and becomes more successful. The Merchant of Venice was almost certainly performed between 1596 and 1598 and was performed in front of an Elizabethan audience who were not particularly well educated or literate but they understood the complexities of the issues being raised in the play. Chris Scrimgour ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare - explain how Shakespeare creates an impact ...

    with the wealth that belongs to Shylock, so he disowns her. In the trial scene the Duke confronts him with the question " How shalt hope for mercy ren'ring none?" Shylock's answer to this is, how the Venetian seem to treat their slaves degradingly as if some piece of worthless property, so he has the right to his bond.

  2. 'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a ...

    past and uses this it against Antonio for once calling him a 'villainous dog' and uses this to his advantage. He uses the dog technique to sustain an effective insult. He mentions that he isn't a fool, and the wool won't be pulled over his eyes, so to speak, when

  1. Discuss the view that 'The Merchant of Venice' is a comedy with tragic possibilities.

    evil man in the play gets his just deserts when he is deserted by his daughter and loses the court case and with it all his remaining money. Also Jessica is now happy with Lorenzo, Portia is happy with Bassanio, Gratiano is happy with Nerissa, Launcelot is happy serving his new master and Antonio lives and becomes amazingly rich.

  2. A study of anti-Semitism in 'The Merchant of Venice' it's historical and cultural perspective ...

    The two main influences are 'The Jew of Malta' written by Christopher Marlowe and 'Il Pecorone' written by Giovanni Fiorentino. 'The Jew of Malta' is very similar to 'The Merchant of Venice.' The Jew is called Barabas and he poisons the nuns when his daughter runs away and becomes a nun.

  1. The Merchant of Venice.

    Shylock makes his lack of love clear to Launcelot for working for Lorenzo by telling him "thou [you] shall not gormandize, / As thou hast [has] done with me;" and to "sleep and snore," as he has done whilst employed by Shylock (Line 3).Shylock now announces that he is leaving

  2. "The Merchant of Venice" was offered to Shakespeare's audience as a comedy. What problems ...

    They would have not been listening to him nor interested in figuring out where do his feelings of anger and rage towards Christians come from. On the contrary they'd found it hilarious when Shylock is deeply hurt. Despised as an alien and unconverted Jew they would believe that he was a sinner bound for hell.

  1. exploring the various forms of love displayed in Shakespeares Merchant of Venice

    This speech by Portia also shows her intelligence, as she is not interested in looks alone. This also emphasizes her feelings for Bassanio, as her ridicule of the other suitors contrasts with the fact that the only suitor Portia does not ridicule or dismiss is Bassanio.

  2. If a man has prejudged, negative opinions against a group of people, because of ...

    Even Christians themselves did not live together well in Elizabethan times, and still today as can be seen in Northern Ireland; Catholics and Protestants conflict. When we see these points, it is no wonder that the Christian Church throughout history targeted Judaism.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work