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The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of Romantic Comedy is that it should contain Romance. This is evident in the fictional romance of Portia's marriage lottery in the Three Casket Story.

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Introduction

Hamza Jafree 10W2 The Merchant of Venice The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of Romantic Comedy is that it should contain Romance. This is evident in the fictional romance of Portia's marriage lottery in the Three Casket Story. Another aspect of Romantic comedy is evident when the central character Antonio is saved from Death and Disaster. The rule of comedy is that however serious the conflict may be, it should "all end well" in a resolution. As the Italian poet Dante (1256-1326) wrote: "A comedy is journey through hell to purgatory and up to heavens which ends well, but does not make the readers laugh." The play is described, as a comedy obeying all the conventions its settings is urban in Venice and countryside in Belmont, its characters middle class. It uses prose and iambic pentameter, there is a clownish comic servant (Lancelot) and a jester (Gratiano) Plot confusion arises from disguise and disaster is avoided, complications are resolved, marriage concluded. The main thematic and structural elements of the play all belong to the category of Romantic comedy rather than tragedy or history. The basic action of the play is moved by two interconnecting stories: 1. Bassanio's courtship to a wealthy heiress of Belmont, Portia, which is straightforward romance. 2. The story of the flesh bond is an ancient time narrative known to Shakespeare by II Pecorone (1558) set by Ser Giovanni Fiorentini and "the Jew of Malta" by Christopher Marlow. I think to a modern day audience it is hard to classify the merchant of Venice as a comedy because the modern day audience would feel that the plot was "designed tragically". Elements of harsh reality includes- the sinister and ruthless plan of Shylock also; his total and crushing defeat at the end, which brings the play more close to a tragedy rather than comedy. ...read more.

Middle

In return he wants blood. Shylock is full of hatred and desire for revenge against Antonio because the environment he lives in years of ill treatment by the Christian is indicated in his outburst against the insensitivity that Christian represented in the form of anti-Semitic behaviour of Antonio: " He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my loses, mocked at my gain, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies- and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath no the Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?" (Act 3 S 1) This uncovers understandable motive for his revengeful behaviour, which brings sympathies of audience for him, but when he insists the bond, the audience takes this sympathy back. However, a person who has no feelings will be the only one not to move by the plight of Shylock at the hands of Christian in the end, when he is utterly crushed and leaves the courtroom in anguish. Shylock becomes the victim of his own stubborn cruelty; he loses everything even his faith. I think few of us will feel for Shylock that he got what he deserved in the end but others will see him as a victim of his environment made cruel by the years of ill treatment by the Christians. He is driven by hatred to the extend that he tried to use Christian law against Christians: "To have the due and forfeit of my bond, if you deny it, let the danger light Upon your charter and your cities freedom." The victimised character aspect of him exposes hypocrisy of Christians and the modern day audience would sympathise with him but again when the audience learns about his attitude towards saving 9000 ducats, then 3000 ducats, when all attempts failed his dignity. I think it will bring laughter from the audience rather than sympathy. ...read more.

Conclusion

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much, to mitigate the justice of thy plea; which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice". Looking towards Antonio with anxiety and says " Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there." Antonio stand tall like a tower at the kneeling body of Shylock with a steady joyousness, addressing the Duke and all the court, "To quit the fine for one half of his goods, I am content so he will let me have, the other half in use", looking down at Shylock Antonio now strike a harder blow, "upon his death", tauntingly on "that lately stole his daughter", and in a triumphant tone "two things provided more, that for this favour, he presently become a Christian, the other that he do record a gift here in the court of all he dies possess'd, unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter. I believe the play is of great relevance to contemporary society. Although the play was written and performed in England in the 16th Century, the theme of prejudice and religious intolerance is still very relevant today, in the 21st Century as it was in the Shakespeare's time. Many recent productions have focused upon the treatment of the Jews and have used ideas from this period of history. The Oscar winning Spielberg film Schindler's List gives an account of Jewish Persecution under the Nazis and contains similar ideas at times to those in the play. The existence of Apartheid in South Africa was the recent reminder of the behaviour like that of Antonio's does not go away, it simply changes where it happens. Even after 400 hundred years of this play someone, somewhere will behave like the characters of The Merchant of Venice. For a modern day audience it is not possible to remain neutral about the situation, such as in Merchant of Venice, it does arouse our response and encourages the need to identify and combat anti-Semitism and all other forms of racial prejudices in our contemporary society. The End ...read more.

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