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The Merchant of Venice

A discussion about how the ending of the play should be interpreted.

Roger Su

on 20 September 2012

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Transcript of The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare Shakespeare’s comedies often conclude neatly and happily with a series of marriages. However, there are other factors in The Merchant of Venice that create in the audience a sense of unease about the happiness of the ending.

Discuss, with detailed supporting evidence, how we should interpret the ending of the play. Antonio Shylock Jessica My Lord Bssanio, let him have the ring.
Let his deservings and my love withal
Be valued 'gainst your wife's commandement. ANTONIO (4.1.445-447) If you have known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring. PORTIA (5.1.199-202) PORTIA What man is there so much unreasonable,
To urge the thing held as a ceremony? (5.1.203-206) If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And how unwilling I left the ring,
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure. BASSANIO (5.1.193-198) Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
I never more will break an oath with thee. BASSANIO (5.1.247-248) There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly. PORTIA (5.1.226-227) If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian and thy loving wife. JESSICA O Lorenzo, (2.3.19-20) But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit. JESSICA (2.6.36-37) The ring symbolises Bassanio's love for Portia. Therefore, the solitude and melancholy of Antonio should be considered and portrayed. Portia is actually questioning why would Bassanio rather bestow his love upon a man, who is Antonio, instead of upon his wife. Bassanio giving away the ring under Antonio's request suggests that Antonio has a greater place in Bassanio's heart. I am never merry when I hear sweet music. JESSICA (5.1.69) Despite the three married couples in the end of the play, Antonio is excluded from the celebration. I pray you, give me leave to go from hence.
I am not well. Send the deed after me,
And I will sign it. SHYLOCK (4.1.391-395) In christ'ning shalt thou hve two godfathers.
Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more–
To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. GRAZIANO (4.1.394-396) NERISSA There do I give you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew a special deed of gift... (5.1.291-292) Exit Shylock The lack of response of Shylock suggests that he is totally defeated, By using "the Jew" instead of the name, Shakespeare kept Shylock in distance from the audience as a means to prevent sympathy. Can no prayers pierce thee? GRAZIANO SHYLOCK No, none that thou hast wit enough to make. (4.1.125-126) Modern interpretations should not let the audience forget about Shylock's misery. Therefore, it is essential to have Jessica remain on the stage in the last Act, and her melancholic presence will remind the audience of Shylock. Shylock shows no will at all to fight for dignity or respect, but merely to keep on living. and in comparison with an earlier passage... Subtle worries start to appear in Jessica's romantic fantasy. Jessica is subconsciously implying herself that she cannot think clearly about how serious a trouble the elopement will cause. The arrival of the ships is a request for Antonio to return to Venice alone. These three unsuccessful pairs of lovers are foreshadowing the future uncertainties in Jessica and Lorenzo's relationship. Jessica's melancholy serves as a reminder to the audience of the truth behind the seemingly beautiful romances. The sense of unease in the end of The Merchant of Venice is a realistic portray of the cold-blooded nature of life, and it is the realistic aspects that make an excellent play. © Roger Su 2012 LORENZO & JESSICA Troilus and Cressida Pyramus and Thisbe Aeneas and Dido Forced to separate due to political reason in the ancient Greece. Originally forbidden lovers who later on both committed suicide. Aeneas was forced to leave Dido, who later committed suicide in her anger and despair.
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