Woodhouse High School Simon Dearne 10k2
Set : 10B1 (Sm)
Why is Act IV scene 1 of
“The Merchant of Venice”
so powerful? Examine how
the dramatic tension is
built up in this scene.
This scene is so powerful because it is the climax of the whole plot. We know that Shakespeare gives it a lot of importance because it is a very long scene. It is given great importance because all the characters are there. Its location is very important because it is set in a court and as soon as the certons are lifted, the audience know this is a serious scene. It is also important about the location because in the olden days the Venetian court were seen as a powerful place so this means that they could not show mercy to Antonio because this would make the court look week. It is also a very serious scene it is a dispute over another persons life. The language in this scene provides lots of opportunities for action. Conflict plays a very big part in this scene because of the hostility between Antonio and Shylock. There is lots of contrast in this scene. There is contrast in the characters moods, movements and the language they use.
There is a lot of dramatic tension building up to this scene. It starts with Antonio and Shylock disliking each other. They dislike each other because Shylock and Antonio are from rival religions. Antonio is a Christian and Shylock is a Jew. They also dislike each other because Shylock lends out money to people and when he collects it, in he collects interest. Antonio don’t like this he thinks it is wrong. Antonio also lends out money to people as a favour and does not collect interest. This upsets Shylock because he is losing out on business because of it. The plot starts when Antonio wants to lend some money from Shylock to give to Bassanio so he could go off and court a lady called Portia. Antonio would of lent Bassanio the money from him self but his money was out on investment at sea. Antonio decides to lend the money from Shylock because he was his only option. Antonio went to Shylock and Shylock agreed to lend Antonio the money with no interest. The only catch was that is the money was not paid back by the due date they Shylock could have a pound of Antonio flesh closest to Antonio’s heart. Shylock said this as a joke and Antonio took it as one. The audience know this is not a joke. Antonio could see no problem in him being able to pay the amount of money due by this date and could see no problem in putting the flesh joke in the bond. Then a while after this, a rumour was started that all of Antonio’s ship with all his my in investment had sunk. Antonio then realised that he could not pay the bond by the date. This is when Antonio get arrested and Antonio realises that Shylock was not joking about the threat of taking a pound of flesh if the debt was not paid by the date set. We then find out that Bassanio has been given a ring by Portia to signify their love and is said that he should never remove the ring from his finger. We also find out that Portia is planning to go and dress up as a lawyer and defend Antonio. This is when it goes into Act IV scene 1 and gets to the plots climax.
This is a preview of the whole essay
This scene starts it is in the courtroom in Venice. This tells you that this is an important scene from when the curtains open because a courtroom seems a serious place to be. It opens with nearly all the main characters there. This also shows it is an important scene. There are only two of the main characters missing in this scene they are Shylock and Portia. The reason these two are missing at the start of the scene is because it creates a lot of suspense in delaying their arrival. The reason for this suspense is because Shylock and Portia arrivals will determine whether Antonio will live or die. Then reason they have the power to decide if Antonio dies or lives is because Portia is the lawyer and could pull him out of this predicament and Shylock has the power to show mercy or let him carry out his punishment. Shylock and Portia not being there creates a lot of dramatic tension because if they don’t show up then the court has to be adjourned. This is what the audience would be hoping for because this would mean that Antonio’s life would be safe for another day. The director could emphasise that the court is on Antonio’s side by having the Duke, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio and the guards on the right side of the stage and only Shylock on his own central left of the stage. The director could also emphasise that having two guards chained on to him, one on each arm, traps Antonio. In this scene the director would make Narrissa would look silly as she comes in trying to look like a male lawyer.
The audience would feel very on edge at the important parts of the scene with Antonio in. This is because he is expected to die for most of the scene. One thing the audience would notice for most of the scene is that when Antonio’s life is being threatened he does not show fear he does not grovel for his life like most people would is faced with this situation. All he does is accepts his fate and keep his dignity. The audience would admire this. He also tries to make his friend accept what they all thought was going to happen. At the point when it seems most likely that he will die because he has been shown no mercy Antonio tells Bassanio that he hold no grudges he don’t blame him, showing mercy.
“Most heartily I do beseech the court.
To give the judgement.”
This line shows Antonio accepts his fate.
“Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you.”
This is the line when he tells Bassanio that he should not feel guilty it is not his fault and that Antonio holds no grudges. This scene is very dramatic in the way that Portia finds the loophole for Antonio. When Portia finds the loop hole audiences goes from feeling great worry that Antonio is going to die a horrible death and Shylock will get his way to great relief and happiness that Antonio was going to survive and Shylock had been stopped. Then when Portia turns the tables on Shylock and Shylock is put in the same precision that Antonio was in with Antonio with the chance to show mercy. But unlike Shylock Antonio shows mercy even though the man that he is showing mercy would not show him any. For this the Audience would have respect for Antonio. When the tables are turned, Gratiano mocks Shylock but Antonio does not and in not doing this holds his grace. After this, the scene leads back into the Portia and Bassanio plot. Before this scene starts Bassanio is given a ring from Portia to signify there love which he should never remove from his finger. Bassanio asks for away for them to repay the lawyer Portia at first she asks for nothing but then realises that she could cunningly tests out Bassanio loyalty so she asks for the ring and only that. Bassanio at first refuses but he eventually gives in. This is when the audience know that the play is not over and this also leads nicely into the next scene. This also lightens the mood and the audience know that the worst part is over.
In this scene Portia is disguised as a male lawyer this creates a lot of dramatic irony because of the audiences awareness of this. There is a lot of dramatic irony at line 280 when Bassanio says that he would give up his wife and his world to Shylock to free Antonio there is a lot of dramatic because he does not know that he is saying this in front of his wife. At the end of this scene there is a lot of dramatic irony when Portia tests out Bassanio loyalty by asking for the ring the audience would find this comical because they would know he is being tricked.
Shakespeare creates suspense at the end of the scene by giving us half a plot that we know is not over and we expect something to happen and we want to find out how it is going to happen and what the outcome will be. This is different from the tensions built up in the earlier scenes because in is a different feeling before you were worried about the out come this time it is a pondering feeling instead.