The merchant of venice essay notes

The first suitor, the Prince of Morocco, chooses the gold casket, interpreting its slogan, "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire", as referring to Portia. The second suitor, the conceited Prince of Aragon, chooses the silver casket, which proclaims, "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves", as he believes he is full of merit.


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Both suitors leave empty-handed, having rejected the lead casket because of the baseness of its material and the uninviting nature of its slogan, "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath". The last suitor is Bassanio, whom Portia wishes to succeed, having met him before. At Venice, Antonio's ships are reported lost at sea, so the merchant cannot repay the bond. Shylock has become more determined to exact revenge from Christians because his daughter Jessica eloped with the Christian Lorenzo and converted.

She took a substantial amount of Shylock's wealth with her, as well as a turquoise ring which Shylock had been given by his late wife, Leah. Shylock has Antonio brought before court.

At Belmont, Bassanio receives a letter telling him that Antonio has been unable to repay the loan from Shylock. Portia and Bassanio marry, as do Gratiano and Portia's handmaid Nerissa. Bassanio and Gratiano leave for Venice, with money from Portia, to save Antonio's life by offering the money to Shylock.

Unknown to Bassanio and Gratiano, Portia sent her servant, Balthazar, to seek the counsel of Portia's cousin, Bellario, a lawyer, at Padua.

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The climax of the play is set in the court of the Duke of Venice. Shylock refuses Bassanio's offer of 6, ducats, twice the amount of the loan. He demands his pound of flesh from Antonio. The Duke, wishing to save Antonio but unable to nullify a contract, refers the case to a visitor. He identifies himself as Balthazar, a young male "doctor of the law", bearing a letter of recommendation to the Duke from the learned lawyer Bellario. The doctor is Portia in disguise, and the law clerk who accompanies her is Nerissa, also disguised as a man.

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As Balthazar, Portia repeatedly asks Shylock to show mercy in a famous speech , advising him that mercy "is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes" Act IV, Sc 1, Line However, Shylock adamantly refuses any compensations and insists on the pound of flesh. As the court grants Shylock his bond and Antonio prepares for Shylock's knife, Portia deftly appropriates Shylock's argument for "specific performance".

She says that the contract allows Shylock to remove only the flesh , not the blood, of Antonio see quibble. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio's blood, his "lands and goods" would be forfeited under Venetian laws. She tells him that he must cut precisely one pound of flesh, no more, no less; she advises him that "if the scale do turn, But in the estimation of a hair, Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.

The Caskets and Their Role in Plot’s Construction

Defeated, Shylock consents to accept Bassanio's offer of money for the defaulted bond: first his offer to pay "the bond thrice", which Portia rebuffs, telling him to take his bond, and then merely the principal; but Portia also prevents him from doing this, on the ground that he has already refused it "in the open court". She cites a law under which Shylock, as a Jew and therefore an "alien", having attempted to take the life of a citizen, has forfeited his property, half to the government and half to Antonio, leaving his life at the mercy of the Duke. The Duke spares Shylock's life.

Antonio asks for his share " in use " until Shylock's death, when the principal will be given to Lorenzo and Jessica. At Antonio's request, the Duke grants remission of the state's half share of the forfeiture, but on the condition that Shylock convert to Christianity and bequeath his entire estate to Lorenzo and Jessica IV, i.

Bassanio does not recognise his disguised wife, but offers to give a present to the supposed lawyer. First she declines, but after he insists, Portia requests his ring and Antonio's gloves.

Introduction For Merchant Of Venice Essay, Speech On Line in Texas - ecchiadenchai.tk

Antonio parts with his gloves without a second thought, but Bassanio gives the ring only after much persuasion from Antonio, as earlier in the play he promised his wife never to lose, sell or give it. Nerissa, as the lawyer's clerk, succeeds in likewise retrieving her ring from Gratiano, who does not see through her disguise.

At Belmont, Portia and Nerissa taunt and pretend to accuse their husbands before revealing they were really the lawyer and his clerk in disguise V. After all the other characters make amends, Antonio learns from Portia that three of his ships were not stranded and have returned safely after all. The forfeit of a merchant's deadly bond after standing surety for a friend's loan was a common tale in England in the late 16th century. The date of composition of The Merchant of Venice is believed to be between and The play was mentioned by Francis Meres in , so it must have been familiar on the stage by that date.

The title page of the first edition in states that it had been performed "divers times" by that date. Salerino's reference to his ship the Andrew I, i, 27 is thought to be an allusion to the Spanish ship St.

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A date of —97 is considered consistent with the play's style. The play was entered in the Register of the Stationers Company , the method at that time of obtaining copyright for a new play, by James Roberts on 22 July under the title The Merchant of Venice , otherwise called The Jew of Venice.

On 28 October Roberts transferred his right to the play to the stationer Thomas Heyes ; Heyes published the first quarto before the end of the year. It was printed again in , as part of William Jaggard's so-called False Folio. Later, Thomas Heyes' son and heir Laurence Heyes asked for and was granted a confirmation of his right to the play, on 8 July The edition is generally regarded as being accurate and reliable. It is the basis of the text published in the First Folio , which adds a number of stage directions, mainly musical cues.

The play is frequently staged today, but is potentially troubling to modern audiences because of its central themes, which can easily appear antisemitic. Critics today still continue to argue over the play's stance on the Jews and Judaism. English society in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era has been described as "judeophobic".

Shakespeare's play may be seen as a continuation of this tradition. One interpretation of the play's structure is that Shakespeare meant to contrast the mercy of the main Christian characters with the vengefulness of a Jew, who lacks the religious grace to comprehend mercy. Similarly, it is possible that Shakespeare meant Shylock's forced conversion to Christianity to be a " happy ending " for the character, as, to a Christian audience, it saves his soul and allows him to enter Heaven.


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Regardless of what Shakespeare's authorial intent may have been, the play has been made use of by antisemites throughout the play's history. The Nazis used the usurious Shylock for their propaganda. Shortly after Kristallnacht in , The Merchant of Venice was broadcast for propagandistic ends over the German airwaves. In a series of articles called Observer , first published in , British playwright Richard Cumberland created a character named Abraham Abrahams, who is quoted as saying, "I verily believe the odious character of Shylock has brought little less persecution upon us, poor scattered sons of Abraham , than the Inquisition itself.

This was the first known attempt by a dramatist to reverse the negative stereotype that Shylock personified. The depiction of Jews in literature throughout the centuries bears the close imprint of Shylock. With slight variations much of English literature up until the 20th century depicts the Jew as "a monied, cruel, lecherous, avaricious outsider tolerated only because of his golden hoard". Many modern readers and theatregoers have read the play as a plea for tolerance, noting that Shylock is a sympathetic character.

They cite as evidence that Shylock's "trial" at the end of the play is a mockery of justice, with Portia acting as a judge when she has no right to do so. The characters who berated Shylock for dishonesty resort to trickery in order to win. In addition to this Shakespeare gives Shylock one of his most eloquent speeches:.

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Merchant of Venice Study Guide

Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh. What's that good for? To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies — and what's his reason?

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?


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  8. And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?