This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

3475 words - 14 pages

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Introduction

The three versions of the Merchant of Venice which I have watched are:

1. Channel 4 television version for their Schools Broadcasting
Programmes

2. Trevor Nunn's version

3. National Theatre Company version directed by Jonathan Miller and
starring Laurence Olivier as Shylock

Act IV scene 1 is an intense scene in the play where we see many of
the play's main themes such as justice and mercy, money and status,
revenge, loyalty, love and prejudice and tolerance.

Shakespeare presents a harsh character in Shylock the Jew, but the
fact that he also gives him the chance to speak more than any other
European playwright preceding him would suggest that his portrayal is
not conventional but much more complex for example in his words in Act
III scene 1, lines 57-58: "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a
Jew hands, organs, dimensions?" Much of Shakespeare's enduring appeal
has been in his amazing portrayal of the complexities of the human
condition for example Hamlet or Macbeth. Traditionally Jews were the
evil villains of Elizabethan drama, frequently Machiavellian or greedy
but unlike his contemporaries Shakespeare's characters were never
simply 'good' or 'evil' but embody the complex mix within each of us
that makes us human.

The main dilemma in staging this play today is in the consideration of
Shakespeare's possible anti-semitism and/or sympathies towards his
character and indeed whether Shylock only represents the Jewish people
or whether he is symbolic of oppression of minority races in general.
Through Shylock's forced conversion in this scene we are reminded of
the conversions of other religions according to the ruler of the time
such as Henry VIII. This would suggest that Shakespeare is using
Shylock as more than a symbol of 'Jewishness'. In this piece of
coursework I will be examining mainly how sympathetic or unsympathetic
the various versions seem to be and how each Director has succeeded in
making the character of Shylock worthy of Shakespeare's realism.

Jews were traditionally viewed as outsiders and were not citizens.
Christians as far back as the 11th century could not lend money
without interest and many Jews earned a living from this 'profession'
as they could not join the artisan guilds. As they became their own
debt collectors they soon became the target of resentment. A myth was
born; with which Shakespeare's audience would have been familiar, of
ritual murder or 'blood libel' that Jews would kill adult Christians.
It is to this myth to which Shakespeare seems to allude in the 'pound
of flesh' incident in this scene. Shakespeare is original in showing
us the extent to which Shylock is oppressed by Christians surrounding
him and it is through this that Shakespeare succeeds in...

Find Another Essay On William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1272 words - 5 pages Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Shylock is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice", he starts in the play as an outcast of society because he is Jewish. Shylock has been forced to become a banker in his life as an inhabitant of Venice, for the fact that his religion is seen as wrong. Although Shylock is forced to become a banker he plays a vital role in the city

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1990 words - 8 pages Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Shylock has been very badly treated by certain Christians and he yearns for revenge. He goes too far when he seeks the life of his main persecutor, but he is essentially, an intelligent, dignified

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1754 words - 7 pages Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice 'I am a Jew' a famous saying from Shylock in 'Merchant of Venice' that clarifies the merchant brotherhood of a wealthy city. 'Merchant of Venice' contains rascals and heroes. The audiences will soon realise that Shylock, the Jewish money lender, is shown as a villain within the wealthy city. Is this really what Shakespeare had intended? This testimony given

Portia and Bassanio in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1150 words - 5 pages Portia and Bassanio in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice “The Merchant of Venice” is a Shakespearean play based on the themes of friendship, racial prejudice, deceptive appearances and love, of which the most romantic is the love between Portia and Bassanio. In contrast, the other two couples - Lorenzo and Jessica, Gratiano and Nerissa – exhibit playful or down-to-earth love. Portia is as faultless as

Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1645 words - 7 pages Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice With every great story line comes a theme. William Shakespeare created an art of intertwining often unrecognizable themes within his plays. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, one hidden theme is the idea of homosexuality. This theme might not have even been noticed until modern Shakespeare fans discovered them. According to Alan Bray’s book, Homosexuality in

Men's Control in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1499 words - 6 pages Men's Control in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the scene opens to reveal a society controlled by men. Men, who live in the foreground of Venetian society, wield their power in business, government, and family life. In the background, women conduct their lives quietly. They are subservient to their husbands and fathers and are regarded as helpless and in need of male guidance in

Prejudice in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1668 words - 7 pages Prejudice in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The main theme of the Merchant of Venice is of Shylock, a Jew, and Antonio, a Christian taking part in a deal involving the Jew lending the Christian a sum of money. The bond they make is that if Antonio cannot pay Shylock back, Shylock can take legally a pound of Antonio's flesh as payment. The other plots in the play consist of Jessica, Shylock's daughter

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1380 words - 6 pages Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare wrote The merchant of Venice in the Elizabethan period. It was written as a play and this is reflected in the exaggeration of some of the scenes. At the time the play was written anti-Semitism was common, this again is reflected by the attitudes of the characters. In theory at the time this play was written only Jews who had converted to

Characterizing Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

2907 words - 12 pages Characterizing Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The ‘Merchant of Venice’ was written at a time when there was great prejudice towards the Jewish race. They were known for their intelligence, hard work and business acumen, which later led them to be mistreated and resented. They were made to wear distinctive clothing in order to be identified, and citizens of Venice could treat Jews in any way they

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice - 2897 words

2897 words - 12 pages Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice, a tragic- comedy written in the late 16th century by the greatest known English author, William Shakespeare. This is a tale set in the heart of Venice, amongst the Venetian Christians and Jews. The history of the Jews is marked by terrible hardship and atrocities; Jewish people kept up their customs and religion formed tight knit

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice - 2622 words

2622 words - 10 pages Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Introduction One of the most interesting and dramatic characters in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is the rich, despised money-lending Jew Shylock. It is impossible to judge Shylock’s character by our own modern Standards, simple because Shakespeare wrote this play for play goers in Elizabethan times. This was very different to modern times for two reasons

Similar Essays

William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

2846 words - 11 pages William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare, having spent most of his youth in England, was influenced by England’s beliefs. England was going through a Christian reformation that had caused friction between Christians and Jews. Jews and Christians did not see eye to eye on almost everything and especially on usury, the practice of lending money with interest. Boyce, a Shakespearean critique

William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1873 words - 7 pages William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The play centres on two main characters, Antonio, an extremely wealthy merchant and Shylock, a very wealthy Jew. In Venice, a person's word was their bond. A promise made by word of mouth was the same as having an agreement in writing; they had to keep their word or pay the consequences. Shylock is a usurer, a person who lends sums of money to others, charging vast

William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1980 words - 8 pages William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice From your reading of the play, explore the character of Shylock. Was he meant to be a figure to be mocked and despised by Shakespeare's audience or did Shakespeare want a different reaction to him? Throughout history, Jews have been persecuted for their beliefs. Muslims and Christians have thrown Jews from their countries, segregated them when they are present in those

William Shakespeare's Merchant Of Venice Essay

3610 words - 14 pages William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype. The merchant of Venice is a play written in Elizabethan times by William Shakespeare. The play is set in Elizabethan Venice. The