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GCSE: The Merchant of Venice

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 1
  • Peer Reviewed essays 10
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    From the study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience?

    5 star(s)

    Or a greedy man who is discussing his money. This although seems a bit far fetched and malicious of the character the Christians in Shakespeare's time could have taken the line in this way. During this opening speech of the scene shylock uses a form of repetition, which isn't direct repetition of his own words, however it is repetition of Bassanio's words and shylock is repeating this for his own remembrance or to 'get it into his head' so that he can make a decision on whether to lend Bassanio this money; "Three months-well" "Antonio bound-well" "Three thousand ducats, for three months and Antonio bound."

    • Word count: 1857
  2. Peer reviewed

    Shylock- Villain or Victim?

    4 star(s)

    Let me say 'amen' betimes for here he comes in likeness of a Jew", Solanio is anti Semitic, claiming Shylock is the devil. Because he is a Jew his situation in Venice is second-class. This is first seen in Bassanio's hostility towards him. At the beginning of the scene Bassanio's speech is short and prosaic indicating the lack of friendship between them, "Your answer to that", this statement shows his agitation with Shylock and, "Be assured you may", shows that Bassanio has taken shylock's previous comment as negative which Shylock didn't intend.

    • Word count: 1063
  3. Peer reviewed

    To what extent do you think Shylock deserves the treatment given to him in the trial scene?

    3 star(s)

    Later on, Shylock is offered to take 9000 ducats, thrice what he wanted, and leave. However, Shylock declines this offer due to it not being "paid, according to the tenour", while the date to pay the money back has been passed and therefore Shylock was entitled to the forfeit, it still comes across to me as evil to want to kill Antonio instead of taking substantially more money. This shows that Shylock was being evil and unforgiving, leaving you to think that later on in the scene; the treat he got was deserved.

    • Word count: 1683
  4. Peer reviewed

    Write about the role and character of Portia in the play.

    3 star(s)

    'I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike' (Act 1 scene 2) However, like all interesting characters, Portia does have a dark side. She goes on to give a witty account of each of these suitors to Nerissa, showing the bigoted Elizabethan attitude towards foreigners. This can be shown in Act 1 scene 2 when Portia first talks of the Prince of Morocco, describing him as having 'the complexion of a devil'. Her descriptions of her suitors show Portia to be witty and quick-thinking, but they also show her to be no less r****t than many of the men in this play; as can be seen later on in Act 2 scene

    • Word count: 1103
  5. Peer reviewed

    Did Shylock get the result he was hoping for when he took his case to court

    3 star(s)

    She managed to overturn the conditions and turn the tables on Shylock in three main ways. Firstly she said that the contract clearly said that he could clearly have his flesh but it did not say he could take one drop of blood. She also told him that he could not take more or less than exactly one pound of Antonio's flesh. Portia tells Shylock to go ahead and take his flesh but he may not break either of these rules. Portia says that if he does break one of then rules then all his lands and goods will be confiscated.

    • Word count: 688
  6. Peer reviewed

    Is Shylock a villain or victim?

    3 star(s)

    Furthermore, they insult his culture and religion, pushing him to the extent of Shylock proclaiming that "sufferance is the badge of our tribe". This general negative perception of Shylock seriously damages his business and reputation. Words are one thing, but physical abuse is much more powerful. In a heated argument, Shylock even exclaims to Antonio and Bassanio, "You that did void your rheum upon my beard, And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur" (1.3.109-110). Shylock is clearly disturbed by society's outward sign of hatred and disrespect.

    • Word count: 883
  7. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare present the character of Shylock in the play? Is it possible to sympathise with him?

    3 star(s)

    She also steals a number of precious jewels and Ducats from her father. This sends Shylock into a rage and he is pleasantly surprised to find out that Antonio's ships have failed him and so Antonio must forfeit the bond. Shylock seems more irate that his ducats are lost then his daughter. This is his chance for revenge against Antonio and taking out his anger about his daughter. He even says: 'I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear' this shows him in his evil state and that he would rather see his daughter dead if it meant getting his jewels back.

    • Word count: 1292
  8. Peer reviewed

    Is Shylock a villain or victim?

    3 star(s)

    As the play unfolds, Shylock is presented as the villain because he is portrayed as cold, greedy and evil. But is he? Is Shylock really the villain in the play or can he also be portrayed as the victim? In Shakespeare's times, the Sixteenth Century, Jews were rarely seen in England. In the middle Ages, Jews had fled to England to escape and their only job was to lend money because Christians were not allowed to lend out money to get interest.

    • Word count: 1101
  9. Peer reviewed

    Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    3 star(s)

    For example, the Jew would die, the Jew would lose his daughter or wife, he would have his money and land taken or he would be forced to change religion. They were heavily persecuted in these plays would also give the audience a bad view on Jews. This expanded the amount of r****m towards Jews. I feel that Shylock was a Villain, as although he was heavily persecuted throughout the play he should have had more mercy towards Antonio. I think that Shakespeare had no choice but to make him a Villain because of the audience of the time.

    • Word count: 1571
  10. Peer reviewed

    To what extent is Shylock the villain of the play?

    3 star(s)

    The Christians of Elizabethan time, and the time before hand, blamed the Jew's for the crucifixion of Christ. Shylock shows himself a villain in many different ways. Firstly, in the way he treats Antonio and Bassanio, because they are Christian and he is a Jew he shows forms of dislike towards them. He dislikes them so much he will not even consider eating with them "...I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you." Some people would agree that Shylock had a reason to dislike Antonio and Bassanio because of the way the treated him, "You spet upon my Jewish gaberdine" This would give Shylock a means to vent his anger, this could show him not to be a villain because people could argue that he is provoked to be spiteful back.

    • Word count: 818
  11. Shakespeares Portrayal of Shylock is Stereotypical and Anti-Semitic. Discuss.

    "He hath disgraced me, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains...and for what reason? I am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes?" This speech that Shylock delivers to Solanio and Salarino shows us how angry Shylock is about the way that Antonio treats him. If Shakespeare was being anti-Semitic then he wouldn't have put it in because he is trying to show other Christians the way in which they treat Jews is wrong; it is a plea for empathy. Shakespeare cleverly sets out the speech in a specific way to have maximum effect.

    • Word count: 1081
  12. And they all lived happily ever after (except Shylock...), to what extent was Shylock's misfortune due to anti-Semitism and to what extent did he bring it upon himself?

    Shylock elaborates on this statement - almost, it seems, with the intent of winning the audience over to his side - when approached by Antonio, the Christian merchant and the very man to whom Shylock was referring and who is looking to borrow 3000 ducats from him. Shylock cites to Antonio the occasions on which he has both verbally and physically insulted/assaulted him, for instance how "he spat on him Wednesday last", also "called him dog", "mis-believer" and "foot[ed] him as he spurns a stranger cur over his threshold".

    • Word count: 1141
  13. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    Shylock could be regarded as a metaphor for what Jews had to go through, the one sided abuse Jews could only take on in their ever day life style. In Act 1, scene three, Shylock talks about his "hate" for Antonio. Shylock begins to show his dark side, bickering how Antonio under minds his business, "The lends out money gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice". Shylock suggests Antonio purposely lends money to get at Shylock, his family and his religion.

    • Word count: 1761
  14. Merchant of Venice Act 2 Themes and Characters analysed.

    Additionally, it somewhat foreshadows the fact that Morocco will not get the right casket. Shylock " Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation," Lancelot Lancelot is saying that Shylock is very cruel to him, comparing him to the devil. Also, it shows the characters relate being Jewish to being cruel as Lancelot mentions Jew on purpose together with the parallel he draws with the devil. "My, master's a very Jew." Lancelot Shows how society at that time discriminated Jews, as Lancelot uses Shylock's belief in Judaism to let the others know that his master is cruel and money-minded.

    • Word count: 1292
  15. Is Shylock More sinned than sinning?

    For example, Shylock is called a "dog Jew" by the other characters and spat upon by Autonio. When his daughter and money goes missing and he walks down the street, lamenting, the children on the streets follow him around, mimicking him. This tells us that the people of Venice learn to discrimination against Jews at a very young age. In Act 2, we can see the degree of discrimination against Shylock, that even his daughter runs away from him, betraying her father and religion.

    • Word count: 413
  16. In the Merchant of Venice, not all villain wear Jewish gabardines Do you agree with this statement?

    Besides that, he is unwillingly to bend or compromise his bond with "I have my bond. So speak no more against my bond", even refuses "a sum twice the gross sum" offered to him by Bassanio. In addition, he is merciless to the aspect that he refuses to get a doctor for Antonio to treat his wounds with the excuse of "it is not stated in the bond". In addition, he ensures all means into to trick Antonio into his trap as when Bassanio asks for three thousand ducats.

    • Word count: 910
  17. Is the Merchant of Venice more than just a play about money lending? Discuss.

    Shakespeare tried to make the audience think about the person rather than the figure. It is more than just a play about money-lending; love is another theme that runs through the play though is linked closely to money-lending. It is because of Bassanio's affection, or romantic love for Portia, that he comes to Antonio for money. He also comes to Antonio because of friendship love which is shown in this quote "To you, Antonio, I owe you the most in money and in love...".

    • Word count: 1527
  18. How does Shakespeare create tension in the trial scene of The Merchant of Venice?

    The subplot of The Merchant of Venice is focused on romance as Bassanio and Portia fall in love as he wins her in a lottery (a choice of three chests one of them allowing them to be married) created by her father. The romance between Bassanio and Portia gives a slight relief to the tension created between Shylock and Antonio and it lightens the tone of the play distracting the audience away from the obsessive and hostile atmosphere they create.

    • Word count: 3780
  19. The Merchant Of Venice

    as an excuse to hate Antonio when Shylock's main reason is simply that Antonio takes all of Shylock's business because he generously give money out gratis therefore Shylock is not making as much money as he would like. This shows that Shylock is very greedy and that his main priority lies with competing with Antonio for business. When Shylock refers to the Bible story of Jacob and Laban, this suggests that he is well taught in the Jewish faith and has a really good understanding of the Old Testament.

    • Word count: 2434
  20. Shylock - Victim of Villain?

    Here Bassanio is in the middle of a discussion with the Jew about borrowing three thousand ducat. The first things Shylock says at the beginning of the scene are repetitive: 'Three thousand ducats...for three months...and Antonio bound.' This is possibly because Shylock is very cautious, but might also suggest that he is trying to tease Bassanio by refusing to give him a straight answer. He continues to do this in the rest of the scene. Shylock later rejects Bassanio's invitation to dine. His response: 'Yes, to smell pork...I will buy...sell...talk...walk with you...but I will not eat...drink...nor pray with you.' Act 1 Sc 3 ll. 29-33 This suggests a deep feeling of mistrust between Shylock and the Christians.

    • Word count: 2533
  21. ACt 4 scene 1 of The Merchant Of Venice

    Sympathy surrounds Antonio, but also in some views dramatic sympathy is also directed towards the solitary Jew Shylock. You can look at Shylock's persona in two lights - villain or victim. You can look upon the scene and see Shylock as an intensely sympathetic figure, alone in his isolation, surrounded on all sides by his enemies. Whereas, in my view of the play, Shylock is represented as a villain, showing hatred towards Bassanio, but most importantly showing his aggression with the want of pain and death to Antonio.

    • Word count: 1454
  22. As we watch and read The Merchant of Venice, our feelings and opinions change. Write about the way in which Shakespeare plays on our feelings throughout the play.

    The playwright employs many literary techniques to describe the character. In Act 1 Scene 1, Shakespeare employs positive adjectives in Bassanio's speech where he states Portia to be "wondrous" and "fair." By using positive adjectives, it creates an optimistic reflection of Portia in the audience's mind. He further adds repetition to the adjectives; he repeats the word "fair" several times to emphasize how good she is. This is also done so the words sticks in the viewer's mind, thus the audience see a positive image of her for longer. Shakespeare illustrates Portia to have "renowned suitors", which depicts the fact that people of high status love her and therefore suggesting that she is of high worth.

    • Word count: 2396
  23. Villain or victim? Discuss Shakespeares presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    All the prejudices that people had concerning Jews prompted them to become portrayed as evil villains of Elizabethan dramas. At the time The Merchant of Venice was written, the Jew had become the character that the Elizabethan audience loved to hate; so Shakespeare may have seen an opportunity to make money and included Shylock as the villainous Jew in his play. Another example of a Jew being used as a villain in an Elizabethan drama is, The Jew of Malta or The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta, written by Christopher Marlowe. In this play, Barabas carries out many immoral actions and is often unfavorably compared to other men of different faiths.

    • Word count: 2465
  24. Racial and Cultural Stereotyping and Bigotry in The Merchant of Venice

    At the time, only Jews were allowed to lend money with interest. As we learn when Antonio seeks a lender, Shylock is a loan official, following the stereotype of a common Jew. Antonio then falls into the common stereotype of a high-class businessman. He is rich, shown by his amount of wealth he loans to his friends. He is a nobleman, as he did not try and escape Shylock's bond. He could not care less about a lower class citizen or Jew, as stated by Shylock, "You that did void your rheum upon my beard..."

    • Word count: 706
  25. "The Merchant of Venice": Shylock: Victim or Villian?

    In addition, Bassanio's plan is further supported by the grand and poetic language used to describe Portia. Shakespeare uses phrases like, "Of wondrous virtues" to emphasize Portia's beauty and significance and most importantly, the merit of her value. This is also crucial to the storyline as it gives valid reason to Bassanio's need for a loan, showing how she is worth the risk for both Bassanio and Antonio. The saintly portrayals of Portia and Antonio are used at the start of the play to build up and prepare the audience for Shylock's appearance. In Act I scene (iii)

    • Word count: 2341

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent would an audience have sympathy for Shylock?

    "In my essay, I have summarised the key points regarding why or why not an audience would feel sympathetic towards Shylock. Many different people would have different opinions on whether they would agree or disagree with Shylocks views. In my opinion, I think that what Shylock was doing was wrong but his reasons for wanting to get revenge were, to a certain degree, justified. He was merely giving Antonio a taste of what it felt to be the subject of hatred and misery. However, the way that he channelled all this hatred for the Christians onto one man was wrong and he shouldn't have done it. There were other ways he could've sought justice, but not in the way he planned to. In conclusion, I feel that I have concluded the main areas of the play that were crucial to this essay and drawn up a good conclusion about whether and audience may or may not feel sympathetic for Shylock and why they would feel like this."

  • Compare and Contrast the two worlds of Venice and Belmont depicted in Shakespear's 'The Merchant of Venice'.

    "In conclusion, Venice and Belmont are two very different worlds with different societies and people. Overall, if you compare the characters of Belmont with the characters of Venice you will find that they are not very similar probably because they were brought up in different societies. Furthermore, the two central characters Antonio are both left unsatisfied. This is because in the end Antonio didn't find anyone to love and marry and Shylock didn't get his revenge on Antonio. The main reason why Antonio can't find love is probably because he is too busy in his trading and business. On the other hand Shylock can't be part of Venetian society because he is a Jew so they are both similar from this perspective."

  • To what extent does 'The Merchant of Venice' reflect the anti-Semite feelings of the period in which it was written?

    "Personally, I believe that Shakespeare wanted to show the harsh reality of anti-Semitism to his audience, and he thought that through the eyes of a Jew was the best way to do it. The play shows definite anti-Semitism in its characters, but in my opinion, 'The Merchant of Venice' is not anti-Semitic."

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