Why is Act IV scene 1 of "The Merchant of Venice"so powerful? Examine how the dramatic tension is built up in this scene.

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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.

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                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 ...

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