Does Bassanio deserve Portia

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By Reference to the Selected Scenes (and to Nunn’s directions and the Actor’s Performances) Show How Shylock, both Wins and Loses Our Sympathies. Can We Understand

The period in which “The merchant of Venice was wrote, the Elizabethan, was very different to today. When William Shakespeare wrote this play in 1599 Jews were heavily prejudiced against. However today, Jews aren’t looked at as villains anymore, unlike the Elizabethan era. Jews are more sympathised with today because of the “Holocaust” during the WWII, when seven millions Jews were executed. This meant that Trevor Nunn would have had to be careful in the way in which he directed “the Merchant of Venice” as he did not want to make it anti-Semitic. This romantic comedy deals with moral issues that we still discuss today. Modern day writers could not call this a romantic comedy as modern audiences can not laugh at the same things as Elizabethan people. From Shylock’s point of view it would be a tragedy as he eventually loses everything.

Shylock’s first appearance in the play is in Act1 Scene 3. This scene is where Bassanio has found someone who will lend Antonio money who will then lend it to Bassanio. When we first see Shylock in Nunn’s production, Shylock appears in all black and is wearing a skull cap. When this play was performed in the 17th Century the audience probably would have jeered him when he appeared. It appears Shylock is milking his superiority over Bassanio (the Christian), he keeps on repeating

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“Three thousand ducats, for three months”

Bassanio eventually almost begs Shylock to lend him the money. Shylock says that Antonio’s wealth is insecure as it is in his ships, and there are pirates, and rough sea’s, etc. Shylock then flies off the handle when Bassanio invites Shylock to dine with himself and Antonio. We lose sympathy for Shylock at this point because Bassanio does not mention anything about eating pork. This also shows that Shylock is very serious about his religion; this will become relevant later in the play.

        Antonio then enters, and then Shylock says he hates Antonio because ...

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