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OscarFinalEssay - Stephanus Oscar English 123 Final Essay...

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Stephanus Oscar English 123 Final Essay Prof. Leong Merchant of Venice: A Tragedy Although the Merchant of Venice ends with a rather happy ending – Antonio, of course, is not bound to his contract with Shylock, thanks to Portia’s masterful arguments – but truly there is an unsettling feeling that the reader is left with about the city of Venice, the attitudes that people have, and the overall sentiment of the play. Indeed, to be sure, it would be erroneous to suggest that the Merchant of Venice is strictly a comedy. The play, though sharing some loving, memorable funny moments, emphasizes the racist attitude of Venice and the ways in which capitalism began to negatively change society. So it is argued here that the Merchant of Venice is a tragedy because none in the play see the error in their ways. Venice is supposed to represent a civilized world that is largely governed by the Christian values within it. Given the historical context of the play, which is set in the Elizabethan era, the fundamental values of virtue and generosity should serve as a means in which to manage relations. Indeed, as Jay Halio has pointed out in his study, Understanding the Merchant of Venice, the city “had the reputation of great wealth ("Venice the Rich"), political wisdom ("Venice the Wise"), impartial justice ("Venice the
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Just"), and liberalism, in sexual mores as in much else ("Venice the Gallant")” (Halio, 23). While the reputation it might have had was a good one, and while the virtues that Christianity is based upon are equally conducive to an equal and just society, the people in Venice did not possess such qualities.
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