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With Reference to the text, explain how Shakespeare develops the dramatic nature of Act 4 Scene 1, of ‘The Merchant of Venice?’

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Introduction

UMER KHAN 11:12 'With Reference to the text, explain how Shakespeare develops the dramatic nature of Act 4 Scene 1, of 'The Merchant of Venice?' The play is set in Venice. This city was also a trading centre of great importance, home to business men all over the world. The play centres on two main characters, Antonio, an wealthy merchant and Shylock, a very wealthy Jew. In Venice, a promise made by word of mouth was the same as having an agreement in writing. Shylock is a usurer, a person who lends sums of money to others, charging huge 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 with a vengeance as Antonio is supposedly causing Shylocks's profits to drop. Shylock also hates Antonio for the differences in their religions "I hate him for he is a Christian". Shylock as agreed to lend a sum of money to Antonio. As part of the agreement, Shylock states that if his money is not returned within a given period of time, with the added interest, he be entitled to cut exactly one pound of flesh from Antonio's body. ...read more.

Middle

These reasons make the audiences sympathies lie with Antonio, even though Shylock is the defendant. Throughout the play, Shylock is perceived as inhuman and malevolent. However, in Act 3 Scene 1, the powerful and emotive speech " Hath a Jew not eyes... if you prick us do we not bleed" This stresses the common core of humanity that lies beneath the exterior of Shylock's complex character. Over Shylock is a bit hypocritical; twenty-three lines after this plea, he is ranting and raving over the theft of his money by his only daughter, Jessica. With very strong language, Shylock wishes that Jessica "Were dead at my foot". This wish for his daughter's death revokes much of the sympathy created by the former plea for the recognition of his humanity. Shakespeare shows a picture of a malignant, murderous Jew who is willing to kill his only daughter for the sake of a few ducats. This greed for money is recognised by his repetition of his demands for his bond to be followed and the constant reminder of how much he has lent Antonio - three thousand ducats. ...read more.

Conclusion

This statement is obviously aimed at Shylock as he has just proclaimed "On what compulsion must I?" He is stating that he is going to show absolutely 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" Shylock is ecstatic that Portia is on his side he obviously admires her judgement "o excellent young man!" 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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