'shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

967 words - 4 pages

'Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is still relevant today because it deals with issues which still affect us. Show how two of those issues are discussed in the play.'Throughout the play a distinction is made between how things appear on the outside and how they are in reality, or on the inside. The issue of appearance versus reality is demonstrated in varied ways, mainly by the use of real-life situations. The first representation of this is Shylock's generosity with his money and eagerness to make friends with Antonio when he says, 'I say, to buy his favour, I extend this friendship,' when all he wants is to take a pound of Antonio's flesh and end his life, 'If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.' Shylock pretends to want to be friends with Antonio, but only wants revenge against the Jew-hater.The choosing of the three caskets is used as the main explanation of appearance versus reality. The suitor of Portia must choose either a gold, silver or lead casket, where the right choice will allow the suitor to marry her. The Prince of Morocco, on choosing the beautiful gold casket with the inscription, 'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire,' sees the message, 'All that glisters is not gold,' and is thus turned away by Portia. The Prince of Arragon, on choosing the silver casket with, 'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,' receives a fool's head, and is told that that is what he deserves. Bassanio however, on correctly choosing the lead casket with the inscription, 'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath,' says, 'The world is still (constantly) deceived with ornament.' He chooses the lead casket so as not to be fooled by the dull appearance, and receives the beautiful Portia and all her wealth who, in reality, contrasts with the ugly lead. The two princes, however, were deceived by the ornament of the gold and silver caskets.Another way that Shakespeare discusses appearance versus reality is with the use of Portia and Nerissa in disguise, plotting to take Bassanio's ring, the former dressed as a Doctor of Law and the latter as a Clerk. They save Antonio and Bassanio from their problem with Shylock, and Portia (Doctor of Law) asks for Bassanio's ring because she knew he had promised, 'When this ring parts from this finger, then parts life from hence.' Bassanio, after some encouragement from Antonio, reluctantly parts with his ring. When they arrive home, Portia pretends to be angry at Bassanio for losing the ring but then explains what has happened and forgives him. Bassanio was deceived by appearance of Portia as a Doctor of Law and her apparent good intentions to take the ring as a payment for her services.The issue of racial discrimination is mainly displayed...

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