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

To what extent can "The Merchant of Venice" be viewed as a tragedy rather than a comedy?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent can "The Merchant of Venice" be viewed as a tragedy rather than a comedy? The Merchant of Venice can be viewed as a tragedy to a certain extent. Shakespeare's audience would have no difficulty in accepting "The Merchant of Venice" as a comedy however, it is likely that a modern audience nowadays, would view that play as a tragedy. However, I feel that the majority of the play consists of comic elements. Typical Shakespearean tragedies have common features. A tragedy has a hero of noble birth, which has a fatal flaw and comes close to death. This is what happens in "The Merchant of Venice". We can consider Antonio as the "hero", as he is the "merchant " in the title of the play and he is very nearly killed by Shylock. The tragedy is also based on the antagonism between Jews and Christians and the bong between Shylock and Antonio. Shylock is a money- lending Jew and is depicted as a villain who adds a serious and dark tome to the play. ...read more.


The way Shylock treats his daughter. Jessica is tragic. Shylock shows no feelings or love for her and because of this Jessica wishes to leave her Jewish life behind her and marry a Christian. The audience would sympathise with Jessica and find this tragic. "Farewell, and if my fortune be not crossed I have a father, you a daughter lost." Jessica's hatred for Shylock leads her to betray him, by stealing his money and jewels and eloping with Lorenzo. This causes a modern audience to feel sorry for Shylock however; Solerio and Solanio present his reaction to the event in a comic way. This quotation evokes laughter, not sympathy and therefore changes the mood of the audience. A Shakespearean audience would mainly accept this type of comedy because as a modern audience, we cannot help feeling sorry for Shylock's double loss as it provides a serious tone to the play. Portia's scene with the three caskets can be seen as comic but it has a tragic tone to it. ...read more.


However, as a modern audience we do not share this amusement as we have been raised to pity figures that have been unfairly mocked and treated. Solerio and Solanio are a comic couplet and could be seen as typical Shakespearean clowns. They provide a light hearted atmosphere and lighten the mood in tragic scenes. They make these tragic scenes more comic so the audience are not preoccupied by the seriousness of the situation. For example, in Act 4 when Antonio learns that it is not possible for Shylock to carry out his bond, Gratiano says, " A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel. I thank thee Jew for teaching me that word" He uses Shylock's words and sarcastically thanks him. This can be seen as comic. I think The Merchant of Venice is clearly a comedy, based on the definition of a Shakespearean comedy and the fact that there is more comedy to the play than tragedy. Even the most tragic scenes are uplifted by the witty quips of comic characters. However, there are tragic undertones to the play which results in a compassionate play with a mix of tragedy and humour. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...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. Background to the "Merchant of Venice."

    Nowadays if we were to throw anything at the stage, shout or cheer we would probably be thrown out or banned from that particular theatre. In review of the crowds reaction and enthusiasm the 16th Century audience would have been more enjoyable to be amongst.

  2. The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of ...

    Bassanio is describing to Antonio the "Wondrous virtues" of Portia to go on "Sacred Pilgrimage", not only to gain a virtuous and loving wife but also to settle all the debts by "marring a lady richly left". What he explains to Antonio is not courtship but more of a business

  1. to what extent can the Merchant of Venice be seen as a fairytale

    The type of comedy in each setting also differs slightly. In Belmont the humour is witty between Portia and Nerissa, or light hearted mocking of the dreadful suitors using stereotypical traits to each nationality. Whereas, in Venice there is little comedy except from Launcelot and Gratiano which is constant insulting

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

    This was seen as a waste of time by Aristotle and I agree as in the end everyone is happy and there is no revolution. Pity and fear are not felt, and in its place is happiness. This means that there is not as much point in the play as things work out.

  1. English - Merchant of Vencice

    This could be the act that changes the audience's thoughts of Antonio, from having sympathy for him in the first scene to now hating him for his unjust acts towards Shylock. This could show a contrast not between Shylock and Antonio but simply a contrast in the views of their relationship though the play.

  2. How helpful is it to call the 'Merchant of Venice' a comedy?

    (L54-55). So we feel sympathetic for his losses. Arragon has picked the wrong casket for the wrong reason so we laugh at his losses. The contrast makes Arragon's losses even more laughable and even more amusing in comparison with Morocco's. Another area of the play which could perhaps be regarded as humorous could be II.viii where Salarino and Salanio are making cruel jokes mocking Shylock behind his back.

  1. Do you sympathise with Shylock, and is the play a comedy or tragi-comedy as ...

    In the meantime, in another related plotline Shylock's daughter Jessica has fled her father with Lorenzo a Christian friend of Bassanio. She takes with her father's money and jewels and forsaking her religion. Shylock did deserve to lose his daughter though, because she was ashamed of him and he had

  2. The Merchant of Venice.

    you will answer, The slaves are ours:-so do I answer you: The pound of flesh, which I demand of him, Is dearly bought, is mine, and I will have it. If you deny me, fie upon your law! There is no force in the decrees of Venice; I stand for judgment; answer; shall I have it?"

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