Merchant of Venice Essay

In: Literature essays

Merchant of Venice Essay

The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s landmark plays written around such legendary characters as Portia and Shylock. While writing a Merchant of Venice essay it makes good sense to keep the following points in mind:

Complexity of Shylock

Shylock the Jew who is (in)famous for wanting his ‘pound of flesh’ even at the cost of a man’s life-has been hailed as one of the most confusing characters in all of Shakespeare's plays. So a Merchant of Venice essay should go in for a deeper analysis of this character.

At first meeting Shylock’s character appears to be that of a straightforward villain out for revenge and money; but a deeper analysis points to the fact that the master playwright Shakespeare was actually showing the audience that this Jewish stereotype could very well have been created by racist attacks against Jews and that his complex character was really the result of the suppressed anger that he was feeling due to suffering in the past. So is Shylock really a bully or a victim? Shakespeare does not really answer the above question but does give some important clues that are both for and against the complex character of Shylock. A Merchant of Venice essay should offer a deeper analysis of characters like Shylock.

Act IV, Scene One

The first scene of act 1V plays a pivotal role in the play since it contains the gist of all its important themes while containing the climax. A Merchant of Venice essay should therefore include a proper analysis of this scene that holds a key to the play.

This key scene contains two major themes of the play:

  1. Justice
  2. Racism

Act 1V scene one reinforces ideas from previous scenes in the play-the theme of racism for instance is apparent right in the beginning of the play when the duke describes Shylock as a hard human to Antonio by stating that he was a ,  "…a stony adversary, an inhuman wretch,/incapable of pity, void and empty/From any dram of mercy" (ll. 4-6). The duke goes on to imply that this inhumanity of Shylock's had its roots in his religious background.

Portia and the theme of love

The theme of love runs through the subplots of the play. Through the dialogues and action of the play Shakespeare illustrates the many forms of true love along with its giving and unselfish ethos. Through its pages Shakespeare also sheds some light on the nature of marriage as well as romantic vows.

These are some of the key themes that should be covered by your Merchant of Venice essay.


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