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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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. "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
  6. This play appeared in print in 1600 with the title The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice. To what extent do you think Shakespeare leaves the audience with the type of happily ever after ending expected of a comedy?

    Furthermore Bassanio explains to Antonio why he would like to make use of the money given to him - which is to make Portia his wife. However, the first thing Bassanio describes Portia as is as a 'lady richly left'. He later on describes her as someone 'fair' and of 'wondrous virtues', however it is clear that money is the first thing that comes to mind when Bassanio thinks of Portia - as he sets wealth, beauty and virtue in ascending order of his desirability of Portia.

    • Word count: 2674
  7. Merchant of Venice Coursework

    As a result, it shows Christians in a forgiving light, in that their actions against Shylock, the Jew, are largely justified, both morally and in the courts. Shakespeare first establishes the role of Shylock as a victim in Act 1 Scene 3 where he is humiliated by Antonio: "You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog and spit upon my Jewish Gabardine". Antonio replies: "I am as like to call thee so, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too". The disrespect shown to Shylock in this statement reverses the roles of the characters that William Shakespeare originally establishes in the play, for example making Antonio appear as being the villain and Shylock the victim.

    • Word count: 2008
  8. Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    When Shylock names the terms of the bond, he is states it in a very villainous way. This is seen in "...Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body pleaseth me.", which is a very harsh and cruel bond, and which could indicate Shylock's desire for revenge. However, he can also be seen as a victim, because of a number of things which he is described as. Firstly, Antonio is stated to have taken Shylock's business away from him, as well as lower the interest rate which is bad for business, as seen in "He lends out money gratis" and "Brings down the rate of usance".

    • Word count: 2566
  9. In relation to the play, The Merchant of Venice there has been much critical discussion of the character of Shylock, often revolving around whether or not he is a victim or a villain.

    In Belmont Morocco picks a casket so he can marry Portia, but he picks the wrong casket and therefore he cannot marry Portia. Jessica leaves her father, Shylock, and marries Lorenzo, also adapting the Christian faith. Bassanio, meanwhile, arrives in Belmont and he chooses the correct casket and wins Portia's hand in marriage. While this is happening Grazianio, Bassanio's friends falls in love with Nerissa (Portia's maid) and we here of bad news about Antonio's ships: they do not return on time and now Shylock demands his bond in court threatening to kill Antonio.

    • Word count: 2012
  10. Merchant of Venice

    The theme of celebrity is emphasized by the significance of the character of Portia's father. Whilst he is said to have died a long time before the setting of the play, he still holds a great influence over the characters and events as they unfold - Portia obeys his rules in marrying only the man who passes his test, despite there being nothing to enforce these rules. He is almost perceived with a sense of royalty, when you consider his wealth and the respect he holds, which is consistent with the theme of celebrity and fantasy.

    • Word count: 2032
  11. Free essay

    Belmont is a place of youth, happiness and concord, Venice a place of age, melancholy and strife.

    The more you delve into the play, the more it is apparent that the two places' themes appear to be often crossed over and constantly change. Strife, for example, is brought into Belmont by an aged father's will which shows how the concepts of Venice are introduced into the magical place of Belmont. Whereas, in Venice, Belmont's youthful attitude intervenes when a couple in Venice run off together when the parent forbids it. As the play progresses even more similarities appear between the two settings and more often than not the concepts of the contrasting places become crossed.

    • Word count: 2945
  12. How Just is the outcome of the Trial Scene in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", and how does Shakespeare manipulate our feelings for those involved?

    However; Shakespeare very cleverly presents Shylock as much more of a character, enlarging this stereotype with long and very powerful speeches, which begin to turn the sympathy around the other way and take the audience onto his side. For a modern audience therefore, the emotional response to his downfall is very complicated, having witnessed both sides of Shylock. Shakespeare certainly doesn't steer entirely away from this Jewish stereotype; there are many instances where we see Shylock presented as greedy, and money-grabbing, for example when Shylock first is introduced in act one scene three, he says "three thousand ducats, well?", "for three months, well?", "Antonio shall become bound, well?", "three thousand ducats for three months and Antonio bound."

    • Word count: 2424
  13. how does one experience sympathy for shakespeare's shylock - in the merchant of venice

    gradually becoming fraught and afflicted because he is the tragic victim of jealousy and anti-Jewish sentiment deeply entrenched in the Christian ethos. He receives wanton aggression and is addressed as 'inhuman wretch', 'cut-throat dog' and 'inexecrable dog'. His Christian assailants apply severe provocative language to inflict distress and agony; they allude to him frequently as 'dog' debasing his humanity and equating him to an unsavoury and sullied beast inspiring sympathy. He is humiliated by Antonio and spat upon solely because he is a Jew.

    • Word count: 2420
  14. In the Merchant of Venice the character of Shylock excites the interest and sympathy of an audience throughout

    Shylocks hatred is intensified when his daughter Jessica absconds with a young Christian nobleman Lorenzo. News then comes that Antonio's ships have been lost at sea, and so Shylock takes him to court to demand his pound of flesh. Portia, having now been betrothed to Bassanio after he chose the correct casket, disguises herself as a lawyer and goes to court with her maid Nerissa to help Antonio. She defeats Shylock on a technicality; he can cut off the pound of flesh providing he sheds not a drop of Christian blood. Overjoyed at Antonio's release, Bassanio pays the 'lawyer' with a ring that Portia game him as a keepsake.

    • Word count: 2173
  15. Merchant Of Venice - Shakespeare(TM)s presentation of Shylock

    Through this Shylock has developed an unhealthy obsession with money, 'I dream of money tonight'. Shylock uses his money to ensnare the needy. He charges high interest in the form of bonds which is not right. If you are Jewish you have to wear a red hat when out you also have to live in a certain area of the town called a 'ghetto'. All the Jewish people who live in the ghetto have a curfew and the gates are locked at a certain time. These reasons make us feel sympathetic towards Shylock and this shows he is victimized because of his religion.

    • Word count: 2198

    Salerio and Solanio try to make sense of his sadness, suggesting his capital is in danger. Antonio denies, and states that even if true, would not be the reason for his upset. Unable to lift the spirits of Antonio, Salerio and Solanio exit and Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano enter. Gratiano and Lorenzo joke with Antonio to some avail, before leaving him and Bassanio alone. Bassanio, meets Antonio, with financial difficulties, in order to borrow more money for the wooing of an heiress in Belmont, Portia.

    • Word count: 2598
  17. The merchant of venice, Modern audiences probably find it difficult to accept Shylock as a comic villain who deserves his ultimate fate, to what extent, if at all, would you agree?

    All that was known about Jews and their religion and customs were from vague rumour and reputation mixed with horrifying wives tales. Christians believed that Jews possessed magical powers, which they had acquired by making a pact with the Devil. Jews were therefore associated with Elizabethan witches. The stereotypical Jewish features consisted of a long, hooked nose, a swarthy complexion and Jews were believed to worship the devil. Theatre audiences also expected Jews to be portrayed according to the Jewish stereotype and the playwrights of the Elizabethan era gave their audiences what they anticipated to see, emphasising the hilarity of 'Christ - killing' characters by dressing them in exotic clothes and giving them ridiculous hair styles.

    • Word count: 2138
  18. Merchant of Venice

    They were only allowed to be moneylenders. During this period of time, England was a Christian populated country. The Jews were treated as second class citizens; they were not allowed to own properties, have proper jobs and they had to wear unique clothing. Jews had to wear a skull cap, this was coloured red and it represented the blood of Jesus Christ.

    • Word count: 2786
  19. "How might modern audiences react to Shylock's fate in the trial scene?"

    The two halves of the story therefore come together in this scene. In Act 1 Scene 3, it appears that Shylock's hatred of Antonio is not solely religiously motivated, but more from a business perspective; in lines 37-39 he says: "I hate him for he is a Christian; But more, for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis..." As Shylock was a moneylender by trade, he charged interest on loans, something which was heavily frowned upon by Catholics at the time.

    • Word count: 2530
  20. Shylock: villian or victim

    Depicted as a villain to many readers, Shylock shows his true feelings towards Antonio, aside to the audience, 'I hate him for he is a Christian'. As well as proving his hatred of Christians, this does nothing for the sympathy towards him from the audience; A Shakespearian audience would immediately dislike Shylock. He also states that Antonio 'lends out money gratis'. This shows that Shylock's reasons for hating Antonio are not only because he is a Christian and the way he treats Shylock and fellow Jews, but also the fact that he lends money to people without charging interest, hence which adversely affects Shylock's livelihood.

    • Word count: 2229
  21. Merchant of Venice

    Before Shylock leaves the house in act 2 scene 5 he tells her to lock it up. He does this not out of love, but because he is worried about his money. He also wants to keep the anti-Semitic behaviour of the outside world away from her and his house. Jessica also has the problem of having no motherly figure around to love her, or more to the point to teach her father to love again. Jessica's last dilemma is knowing whether to leave her father for a Christian (Lorenzo) or not, especially when she already felt bad about being a dutiful daughter to Shylock.

    • Word count: 2707
  22. The Merchant of Venice

    The lower people in society would have to stand in 'the pit' if they wanted to watch a performance. The rich people would throw their rubbish down onto the poor and it was very rarely cleaned after each performance, which meant the smell was worse each time you went. Because of the standing audience, the stage was slanted slightly so they could see everything that was going on in the play. Today we are all treated the same and are all given a suitable seat within the theatre.

    • Word count: 2705
  23. Shylock - Villain or Victim?

    The ghettos were often densely populated and many Jews died of hunger and disease because of poverty and social restrictions. Throughout history, many rulers, empires and nations have oppressed their Jewish populations or have attempted to eradicate them entirely such as the Holocaust during World War II when Hitler forced the Jews into concentration camps and executed them one by one. Ultimately, the contents of this play are comedy, love and betrayal, meaning that it fulfils the audience at the time by condemning and/or serving justice to the evil characters (Shylock is the villain in this case)

    • Word count: 2619
  24. Merchant of Venice- is he a victim or villain

    In relation to the quote, it does seem true to say that Shylock has a dominant and complex disposition. He seems to go through an emotional rollercoaster which in effect has an impact upon the audience. Shylock's character, throughout the years of the play's performance, has been portrayed in many different ways. Initial interpretations expressed the Jewish moneylender's personality in the form of a 'stage villain.' A stage villain is a classical character who embodies negative characteristics, probably physical and psychological, which encourage negative feedback from the audience, but not be taken seriously or sympathetically. In general terms he was a figure of a pantomime.

    • Word count: 2113
  25. In this essay I will be considering the meeting between Antonio and Shylock, and show how the language and delivery is combined to indicate the relationship between these two characters.

    Bassanio and two other guys are asked to choose from 3 boxes, lead, gold and silver. Bassanio chooses the lead box, so he is able to marry Portia. But Antonio isn't able to pay Shylock back in three months, so Shylock takes him to the court and he wants to take a pound of Antonio's flesh. He is stopped by Portia dressed up as a lawyer. She says that Shylock can take a pound of flesh but is not allowed to spill any blood of Antonio's body. This is the summary of Act 1 Scene of Merchant of Venice.

    • Word count: 2105

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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