How Would A Modern Audience Respond To Shakespeare's 'the Merchant Of Venice'?

1604 words - 6 pages

A modern audience would respond to Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' differently to the early 1600s audience because the play is meant to be comedy. The first audience would laugh and a modern audience wouldn't because the language is difficult to understand as many words have changed. Main differences would be would be the vocabulary and terms used in the 17th century.'Launcelot says ' turn up your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all on your left, marry at the very next turning turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jews house.'There is just a slight difficulty in understanding the play for the modern audience, but this would not pose a problem in understanding a delightful play such as 'The Merchant of Venice'.The main themes of 'The Merchant of Venice' are racism, revenge and love.Racism is towards Jews i.e. Shylock mainly because he has money and is of a different religion. As many people of different religions in that period were called unbelievers.Signs of racism are seen when Antonio spits on Shylock's gabardine and calls him 'cut throat dog.' Shylock couldn't do anything because Christians had different rights to Jews at that time.When Bassanio wanted to borrow 3000 ducats from Antonio to woo Portia, but Antonio's money is overseas, so Antonio went to Shylock, the money lender. Shylock asked why he should lend him money after everything he had done. Antonio says he will still call him names and spit on his gaberdine. Shylock agrees to lend 3000 ducats to him but if the money isn't back after 3 months Shylock will take a pound of flesh from Antonio's body - nearest to the heart.This shows that Antonio is sure that he can return the 3000 ducats after 3 months and Shylock is hoping that Antonio can't pay him back so he can take the pound of flesh instead of the money.In act 3, scene 2, Jessica says if Antonio doesn't pay up the 3000 he really will take a pound of flesh from Antonio."When I was with him I have heard him swearTo Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen, That he would rather have Antonio's flesh, Than twenty times the value of the sum, That he did owe him: and I know, my lord, If law, authority and power deny not, It will go hard with poor Antonio."When Hitler was the German leader there was a lot of anti- semitism. The Jews had to carry an identity card saying they are Jewish. If they owned shops they'll have the Star of David on their shop window and a couple of German soldiers to make sure no-one will go in there. Hitler gave people the image of Jews being big nosed and fat and gave the German women the image of being blonde hair and blue eyes. If they didn't they didn't have those they features then they weren't German.Many Jews were killed and a modern audience now feel uncomfortable with anti-semitism comments so are less able to see Antonio as a hero.Love is not something people didn't take seriously then or now because in the play it first mentions that Bassanio likes Portia because of...

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