The Trial Scene in The Merchant of Venice
Written between 1596 and 1598 "The Merchant of Venice" is not one of
the most performed plays written by William Shakespeare. The play is
classed as one of the sixteen comedy plays and most productions often
use modern times and dress. It was performed in front of an audience
who were not very well educated but the issues being raised in the
play would have been understood. A modern day audience would be less
sympathetic than the audience of that period towards the Jew, Shylock.
Venice is the setting of the play; a nation that was not ruled by a
King or Queen, The city was also the trading centre of the world but
at the end of the 16th century was overtaken by England which was at a
new age. "The Merchant of Venice" has two main characters, Shylock, a
Jew and Antonio, who is an extremely wealthy merchant, an investor who
gets wealth using venture capitalism. In Venice, your word was like
having an agreement in writing. The breaking of this bond would result
in a serious penalty, as it would in today's society but in a
different nature. Shylock is a moneylender who lends sums of money to
others at a fixed rate but charges vast amounts of interest. However,
Antonio also lends amounts of money, but without the interest. This is
"Gratis". This is one of the main reasons why Shylock hates Antonio
because Antonio is meant to be making Shylock's profits to drop. They
both are 'bigots' because they also hate each other for their
"I hate him for he is a Christian"
Shylocks only concern was for money. Shylock agreed to lend a sum of
money to Antonio . As part of the bond, Shylock insists that if his
money is not given back in time, with the added interest, he would be
entitled to perform his bond which stated that shylock could cut
exactly one pound of flesh from Antonio's body. This bond between
Shylock and Antonio is the reason for the court scene in Act 4 Scene
1, the dramatic climax of the play. Although it is not the final
scene, it is the finale of the "The Merchant of Venice" where all the
perplexing sub-plots and main storyline are pulled together to create
an explosive ending. The tension created between Shylock and Antonio
is one of the reasons Act 4 Scene 1 is so dramatically effective. At
the very beginning of this scene in the play directed by , Shylock is
standing and Antonio is seated. This gives the impression that Shylock
is the one on trial when in fact it is Antonio.
"To suffer with a quietness of spirit"
(Continued on the next page)
"Poor merchants flesh", Strong emotive language is used to emphasise
this point. As well as the stress caused from...