The Merchant of Venice Revision Notes.ppt - ‘The Merchant of Venice*’ Revision Notes Themes in the play • • • • 1 Justice versus Mercy

The Merchant of Venice Revision Notes.ppt - ‘The Merchant...

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‘The Merchant of Venice*’ Revision Notes
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Themes in the play 1. Justice versus Mercy Mainly seen in Act four, scene one. Shylock is repeatedly asked to show mercy but instead focuses on justice / revenge. Is he right? The Christians / Elizabethans believe mercy is a divine trait. They both believe they ‘save’ Shylock in the end. Is this true? Portia is merciless in her administration of the law – to Antonio and Shylock. Is she objective?
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Why do the Christians hate the Jews? The killing of Christ. If they did not convert then they could not be ‘saved.’ The stereotype of a Jew. In medieval times it was rumoured that Jews killed children and drank blood. Ritual sacrifice is hinted at in Act Four, scene one. The practice of usury. Money-lending was an unpopular profession.
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Themes in the play 2. Money as a motivating factor Seen in the love and ‘bond’ plot of the play. Bassanio needs money to woo Portia; lack of it puts Antonio in Shylock’s power. Attitudes to money differ: both merchants view it differently (one gives it away while the other is greedy for it - usury seen as morally wrong), Jessica and Bassanio waste it, it does not make Antonio / Portia happy. Bassanio is not taken in by material wealth in the casket test. Portia (the ‘Golden Fleece’) gives away her wealth for love. Shylock prefers his ducats to his daughter.
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Themes in the play 3. Love, marriage and friendship Portia plays the stereotypical role of an Elizabethan woman, dutiful to her father / husband and giving up all she has. Antonio shows platonic love for Bassanio – he is prepared to give up his life for him. The play shows the triumph of love / friendship over greed. Shylock hates Antonio because of his business practice, it stops his profit. Act four, scene one shows the extent of his greed.
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Characters – Shylock* His main traits are his: focus on money /
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