Merchant of Venice Personal Response

The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare can be found as a play or a movie, and has hundreds of different interpretations. In each adaptation one common theme remains: Outward appearances do not always reflect the truth and can often be deceiving. I found this both extremely interesting, and extremely relatable, because even though Shakespeare lived 400 years ago we can still see this theme in our everyday lives. On a large public scale it can be seen in politics, and on a smaller more personally relatable scale I experience it with meeting people online. I really liked seeing this because it shows that really nothing much has changed, and I like to think that even 400 years before Shakespeare’s time it was the same.

Another thing I really enjoyed was contrasting what was written by Shakespeare himself, and what Micheal Radford directed in his screenplay. If I were to have only experienced one of the variations I would not get as rich an experience as I did. I find Radford’s interpretation very interesting because as Mr. MacKnight says: “Books raise questions”. Which is true in the case of Shakespeare’s take, but Radford’s seems to answer those questions for us. For example, in the original, it is unclear as to if Bassanio and Antonio are homosexual. But in Radford’s edition he clearly indicates that there is another type of love there.

Similarly, we see more of how interpretation changes the way a story is with Shylock’s conversion to Christianity. Back when the play was written it would be clear that Shylock would be the bad guy and would go through all these terrible things to in the end find salvation in Christianity. This would be in line with the beliefs of the Christian population at the time, but would seem pretty terrible to us. So instead we see his forced conversion to Christianity as a punishment. I of course agree with the modern take but I enjoyed how by changing the way you interpret the story will completely.

In the end I really enjoyed reading and watching both things because it made me realize that I actually do like Shakespeare. All my life before I thought Shakespeare was some old bum who spoke nonsense but now that I can understand it better, I can appreciate the great story he writes. I never thought I would say this but I wish they would make more Shakespeare plays into movies. Luckily, Steven Spielberg is remastering West Side Story which I will most likely watch.

Merchant of Venice Personal Response

After reading the playwright The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespear, I felt somewhat broken by my different opinions. William Shakespeare creates conflicting ideas which lead the reader to ponder: is Shylock justified to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh? I think he is justified.

Shylock is justified to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh because both parties agreed previously upon the contract. If Antonio was not willing to give Shylock a pound of flesh from wherever he desired then he would not have signed the contract. Antonio knowing the rudeness he exacted on Shylock, would know the type of revenge that Shylock wants.

“I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not As to thy friends, for when friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend? But lent it rather to thine enemy, Who if he break, thou mayst with better face Exact the penalty.” (Shakespear, Act 1, Scene 3, Line 125-132).

This quote of Antonio demonstrates how he is fully aware of the consequences and he knows Shylock’s motives. Even though the contract is very harsh, it must be followed because if not, then Venice (where the play takes place) will lose all sense of order, and the Jewish people who already have less power than the Christians, will have no protection.

Shylock was justified to demand a pound of Antonio’s flesh because it was stated in their contract that Antonio knew the consequences of not following the contract. Antonio was willing to risk his “life” for the money to fund Bassanios’ excursion to find a wife. Shylock was mistreated during the trial, as Portia turned the tides against Shylock by specifying a drop of blood must not be shed. However, Shylock should have been allowed to take a pound of flesh because in doing this, it would be a given that blood would be spilled. The bond insinuates that with flesh comes blood and it would be common knowledge for Antonio to be aware of these consequences. Shylock is wrongly convicted of practicing usury because the rates were agreed upon and at the time which the play first took place, people being killed by one another for petty things, was seen as more common.





The Merchant of Venice

William (Billy) Shakespeare has a considerable roster of famous plays to his name, notable among them is The Merchant of Venice, which in the modern day is mostly known for its portrayal and treatment of the character Shylock, the only important Jewish character in the play (unless you count Jessica), and also its main antagonist. However, there’s much more depth to this play beneath what made it infamous, and certainly warrants exploration.

To first address the elephant in the room, almost everything about Shylock is extremely fascinating to examine. First and foremost, Shylock’s religion is not incidental to his actions (His Jewishness is not just a random character trait added to make him extra detestable for the audience of the time), nor is it the direct cause of them (He doesn’t want to kill Antonio because “he’s Jewish and that’s just what Jewish people do”). Instead, Shylock is pushed to breaking by the actions of others, mostly the constant discrimination from the titular merchant of Venice, Antonio. This combined with his famous monologue, in which he berates to minor characters for refusing to acknowledge his very humanity solely because of his religion. This is easily the most powerful scene in the play (at least to a modern audience), and its inclusion makes Shylock a much more sympathetic character to a degree that I doubt it could have happened by accident. Ultimately, this leads to his actions throughout the play being extremely understandable, although whether or not he was justified is another debate entirely. If the reader so chooses, this play can be interpreted as an examination of the horrible effects of prejudice on society as a whole.

While the subtext surrounding Shylock is extremely interesting, the character Antonio is almost equally so. His narrative role is that of the protagonist, but it feels like he appears much less frequently than most of the main cast, mostly because of his lack of influence on the story. His most frequently discussed trait is his blatant antisemitism, but like Shylock, his negative qualities are not his only qualities. His genuine love for his friends is his primary motivation for the entirety of the story, which would normally be considered an undisputed virtue. However, the extreme selectiveness of this trait is his main flaw. His  affection towards his friends comes at the cost of his affection towards everyone else. Just like his supposed antithesis, Antonio is a much more complex character than he first appears.

The interpretation of this play as an examination and deconstruction of prejudice and antisemitism is reinforced by the fact that almost every character is a colossal hypocrite. Throughout the play, there are frequent examples of characters making statements that directly contradict with their previous or later actions (Bassanio giving away his wedding ring the day after he said he’d never part from it, Antonio going to Shylock for money after years of abusing him, the Venetian court sentencing Shylock to essentially a life of exile from his own culture with only half of his possessions immediately after pleading he be merciful to Antonio). This subtle bit of thematic storytelling adds a lot of nuance to the narrative, presenting the supposed antagonist in a more positive light that the title character. This likely would have gone completely over the head of the contemporary London audience, so whether it was intended by the playwright is difficult to verify. However, our removal of several centuries from the play’s debut allows us to look at it from a much more objective angle.

The merchant of Venice response Sergio Camarillo

The merchant of Venice was a very interesting reading as it has many insights on society and either plays with them or criticizes them. For example, the play shows the stereotypical Jew who to the christian eye is evil and greedy. Shylock’s character fills out the description, as he always has this lust for money and revenge, painting him to be the villain of the story. He is also compared to animals a lot by the christians, showing the hate that there was against the jews.

The main reason that I found this play so interesting is that there are no good characters. Every single one of them wasn’t good and did many bad things, yet the play makes it seem that shylock is the villain and Bassanio is the hero, along with portia and the others. But as we read each of the characters we realize they aren’t these saints. Portia is racist and criticized her suitors by their appearance in a cruel way. Bassanio, Gratiano and Antonio were all cruel to shylock and constantly taunted him or in Antonio’s case, spitted on him.

The insights in society come from the characters and how no one is good, but also on all the stereotypes, especially when it comes to portia’s suitors. All these men from different parts of the world are represented in a racial stereotypical way. An example is the Spanish suitor, who has two servants who constantly play a guitar. He also is described to be nervous and use one leg, a callout to how Spanish people resemble and like flamingos. One thing that all suitors have in common is that they have a very strong accent. Like the prince of Morocco and the Spanish guy.

This play has its fun with its character’s representation yet it makes sure to tell a concrete story that makes us question who really is the good guy and whether the characters are right or wrong.

The Merchant of Venice Personal Response

After finishing The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare, I felt a number of different emotions. I felt sympathy but also disapproval towards Shylock and anger towards Antonio. After reading the scene where Portia (dressed up as a lawyer) enlightens Shylock of his punishment where he recieves none of the wealth (3000 ducats) he lent and has all of his estates and wealth taken away, I felt incredibly bad and sorry for Shylock. Everything was being taken away from him and the punishment worsened. I pitied Shylock because I could imagine the hurt and hopelessness he was feeling. I felt sympathy for Shylock in that moment and after watching the play, the emotion conveyed made me sympathize for Shylock even more. In addition to the punishment, it is said by Antonio that Shylock must give up being Jewish and convert to Christianity. During this scene I felt anger towards Antonio. It made me question whether or not he was the protagonist or antagonist. The Anti-semitism expressed throughout this play by not only Antonio but by the Christians was cruel and racist. I think Shylock’s speech did a good job showing his emotions and the anti-semitism he faced, to the readers and just proved how racist Antonio treated Shylock just for being Jewish. I do not believe Shylock deserved to have the ending that he did. 

Another thing I felt during this unit was the impact of both reading and watching the play. Reading the play noticeably improved my interpretation of Shakespeare’s words and language. The footnotes on the side were very useful in helping me understand what Shakespeare was trying to convey. Watching the play put all the puzzle pieces together. Any confusion or uncertainty was answered after watching the play. The emotions of the characters were well conveyed by the directors of The Merchant of Venice. I could see what reactions specific lines had on the actors. Watching the play gave an overall better understanding. Although the language was sometimes hard to understand, the overall play was fascinating to read and watch. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it.

Personal Response to Merchant of Venice

Is Shylock the real antagonist in this play?

After reading the play Merchant of Venice, many audiences perceive Antonio as the protagonist because of the act of generosity and kindness that he is willing to sacrifice his body to lend money to his friend, while Shylock is the evil antagonist that wants to murder the rightful hero. In this response, I will discuss why I disagree that Shylock is the antagonist in this play. 

First of all, throughout the play, there are multiple pieces of evidence that Antonio and his friends treat Shylock horribly; for example, the big speech that Shylock gave,

“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.”

Just with this speech of Shylock, we can perceive Shylock’s anger and frustration towards Antonio and that he had enough of him often treated him poorly, just because he is a Jew. 

Furthermore, the act of kindness could be perceived from Shylock is much greater than Antonio’s. Shylock is willing to lend 3000 ducats to Antonio despite calling Shylock a dog and frequently mistreating him. This shows that Shylock is willing to forgive and forget the past and resolve their dispute. 

People argue that Shylock only lends 3000 ducats to Antonio because he wishes to take 1 pound of Antonio’s flesh to take his revenge. I can’t entirely agree with this argument because, at first, Shylock was willing to lend Antonio money free of interest, “Forget the shames that you have stain’d me with, Supply your present wants, and take no doit of usance for my monies, and you’ll not hear me. This is kind I offer.” Therefore, this shows that Shylock is forgiving and willing to offer Antonio kindness. 

Other than that, I consider Shylock as a man who stands by his beliefs. Shylock could have given up on Antonio’s flesh and taken double the money that Antonio owed him, but he refused and was destined to take revenge on him. Many people would easily hinder their goals and beliefs from gaining a profit or advantage, but Shylock did not.

To conclude everything that has been discussed, I think that Shylock does not deserve what happened to him, and he is definitely not the antagonist in this play. 

PR: The Merchant Of Venice

When beginning to read The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, I was skeptical. That being said, I think most students have complained about Shakespeare at least once in their lifetime. The diction was foreign, the register is very formal (even somehow during dirty jokes) and very different compared to what I am used to. I honestly did not expect to enjoy the play, so as you can imagine I was very surprised when I realized the play was actually interesting.

The very beginning of the book was admittedly slow, but things really started to pick up at the end of Act 1. Antonio goes to Shylock to ask for a loan (even though he is Christian and in this time money lending was mostly frowned upon by Christians), and Shylock agrees on the terms that if the loan is not repaid within three months, he gets to cut a pound of flesh from Antonio. This was a shock to me because of how sudden it seemed. At this point in the play, I didn’t expect it to be this dark. This however made the play more interesting to me because I realized at this point that the play was going to be more interesting than first glance would lead me to believe. As I read through the book, I enjoyed the switch between Portia and Bassanio’s story, and Antonio and Shylock’s story. Alternating between the trial with the chests along with Bassanio and Portia’s love story and Antonio and his friends’ adventures to do with Shylock’s gory contract gave some variety to the play. It was much nicer to get refreshed from one of the stories and switch to the next as to not get bored of one too quickly, and also to leave on sort of a cliff-hanger that keeps the mind thinking about what will happen next and feeds the reader’s thirst to continue. It was also gratifying to see the two stories come together in the end with the court case between Shylock and Antonio. Antonio was absolved from his bond with Shylock, and Portia and Bassanio’s love was questioned; Portia disguises as a lawyer to save Bassanio’s best friend (Antonio) from death, and Bassanio gives away his ring (which he promised only a day ago would only leave his finger when it was pried from his dead body). The merging of the two stories into one led to a good conclusion – which I, however, did not like. I disliked the ending simply because I believed that Shylock didn’t deserve what came to him in the end. Although I wanted Antonio to live, and Shylock threatened that, he had plenty reason to be upset. In his speech on pages 46-47, he explains exactly why he feels the way he does about Antonio, and explains that all the discrimination he has received is simply because “I am a Jew”. Despite this, Shylock experiences even more pain than he already has by losing his daughter, his fortune, his profession and his religion. Because of this, I didn’t enjoy the ending all that much.

The story wasn’t the only thing that struck my attention. The dialogue was particularly impressive to me in certain parts. The most famous and notable example of this is during Shylock’s speech. Shakespeare doesn’t just create a powerful speech, but also makes it poetic. On lines 49-51, Shylock says,

[Antonio has] 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.”

This structure of repetition creates a really powerful speech and allows it to be read more smoothly and raise intensity. Over all, I enjoyed this play. Compared to Candide, it was very straightforward and not a lot happened, but it was because of how the play is simple but effective that I enjoyed it.

The Merchant of Venice PR

The play has shown continuous plot twists, drama and suspense that make you want more and more. Since Shakespeare was our author, we find ourselves in a medieval setting and the inspiration for such a play appears to come from the 16-17 century. In the play it was clear the love that Bassanio had for Antonio, since he gave up the same ring he swore on his life to keep as a gift to the doctor that helped him save Antonio’s life. We can see a lot of love, dedication and injustice during the plot of the play.


The conflict started with Antonio seeking a loan from the jew, Shylock. In which the consequences for not delivering the money would be a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Since the beginning Shakespeare did an incredible job in engaging the reader. As predictable as it was, Antonio could not meet his deadline and owed Shylock a pound of flesh. Here the injustice starts since Shylock brought his claim to court and he was denied Antonio’s flesh by Portia who dressed as a man trying to protect her husband’s friend. When this happened, not only Shylock was denied his money back from Antonio, but also to give half of his riches to the Duke and the other half to Lorenzo, the man who stole his daughter from him and Shylock was also forced into leaving his religion and becoming a christian. Nowadays it seems something very ilegal and far-fetched but in the play it was something completely legal and normal. Seeing Shylock breaking down in the court and falling to the ground did make me feel an emotional connection, I felt sad for him and I kind of also felt pity. When we leave the court, Bassanio goes to the doctor that helped him out without knowing that the doctor was his wife dressed as a man. At first Portia denied his offer but Bassanio insisted, so Portia said that she wanted his ring which at first he denied doing so but shortly after he accepted and gave his ring away. The same ring that he swore he would have to die before it leaves his hand. That is when Portia understood the love that Bassanio felt for Antonio. 


Although there was a lot of drama, conflict and injustice, I found the play to be very engaging and enjoyable. I had a lot of fun reading, watching and analyzing it. I would definitely recommend this play to others so they can enjoy it as much as I did. This play makes you connect with it emotionally and it teaches you the values of love and how far someone can go for a person who they love.  

Merchant Of Venice Personal Response

The Play Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare was an engaging and eventful play that allowed me to understand the separation that occurred between Jewish and Christian people during Shakespeare’s time. Throughout the play, the themes that stood out for me were prejudice, injustice, and the conflict between love and self-interest. In addition, I learned how far different characters were willing to go because of the “love” they had for others.

Prejudice and injustice were two themes that were demonstrated in this play. Prejudice can be seen through the character of Jessica. Shakespeare’s example of prejudice is shown in the dialogue between Lancelot and Jessica when Lancelot jokes about how Jessica would not enter paradise because of her Jewish father. Even though Jessica was welcomed with open arms, she would always be known as the daughter of the jew. Jessica left her religion, father, and past life where she was trapped under her father’s control for Lorenzo and Christianity. However, because of her jew bloodline, she will never be a true Christian and will always have some prejudice against her. Injustice is demonstrated through Shylock, who depicts the life of Jews and how they were treated as a result of their beliefs. Shylock’s passionate speech raises awareness about how Jews are treated and how they feel targeted. It made me realize how Shylock was feeling and how frustrated and angry he was because of the persecution he was receiving, including being humiliated, insulted in public, and harassed because of his beliefs. This was a strong point in the play, demonstrating his sense of injustice and his plans for revenge after being treated unjustly. Injustice towards Shylock is demonstrated when the bond ends. Everything was taken away from him, including his faith which was important to him and his identity.

The conflict between love and self-interest is shown through the character Shylock and Antonio. The significant difference between the Christian characters and Shylock appears to be that the Christian characters emphasize human relationships over business-related relationships. In contrast, Shylock appears to be entirely concerned with money. This is how the Christian characters see the situation. Merchants like Antonio risk their lives to lend money to individuals they care deeply about, like Bassanio. In comparison, Shylock grieves the loss of his money and is said to run through the streets crying, “O, my ducats!” “Oh, my daughter!” (II.viii.15). He appears to appreciate his money more than his daughter with these statements, implying that his greed overrides his love. However, Shylock also shows sadness and how hurt he is because his daughter left him all alone. This is shown in scene three. An example that shows how hurt he was was when he heard that Jessica sold the ring of his beloved dead wife for a monkey. Upon hearing this rumour, we see how upsetting this was to Shylock, indicating that some human connections are more important to Shylock than money. Furthermore, his emphasis on a pound of flesh rather than any amount of money demonstrates that his anger outweighs his greed.

Overall, I enjoyed the play and seeing the movie version alongside it helped me have a deeper understanding of the lives of individuals who live in segregated groups. I believe that this play addresses more than just the Jewish-Christian divide; it also shows how unfair the system was and the mistreatment of non-Christians.
This play can be applied to various groups, demonstrating the injustice and prejudice that groups have towards one another. Lastly, the Merchant of Venice emphasizes the impact of mistreatment solely because of others’ differences and demonstrates the discrimination that occurred throughout history to this day.

William Shakespear’s play The merchant of venice, PR D.lemon 2022/2/23

William Shakespeare’s play The merchant of Venice is heavily interesting.  The play seems to dig at the hypocrisy of medieval life, while being a tragedy(shylock) and comedy(other shenanigans).  I personally found the comedy part quite interesting, in that, comedy changes over time and most people, at least, my age don’t find the comedy particularly funny whether or not they got the jokes.  I can say I caught some of what Will was pitching, such as “Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all on your left…” This was said by Lancelot in his scene with Gobo, I find that this runs along the lines of nonsense humor like “A barefoot boy with shoes on stood sitting on the grass.” Other comedy aspects are cross dressing, bawdy humor etc.. are still understood and found funny.  

Second, the hypocrisy is amazing and I wonder if people noticed it in the 1600s.  The scene of the court and Shylock’s trial is an amazing example of this.  The fact that the Christians think that they deserve mercy, in the proper meaning of the word, and shylock wants justice and a chance to exact fair punishment.  When he does that and pushes for it, the Christians then proceed to beat him into the ground with extreme unfairness and stupidity of law and its loopholes(tragedy? anyone?).  

Lastly, this play addresses inside and outside appearances.  Like the caskets, or Portia being “unlearned” or Shylock, being the bad guy of the play. We have seen those turn out, well Shylock is a matter of debate, he is the antagonist, and now would be seen as someone who the tragedy revolves around, whereas in the 1600s he would have been the one that was antagonized. 


Personal Response Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare was an enjoyable play to me because of the emotions of sympathy I felt, the interesting situations, and the foreshadowing. The merchant of Venice is placed in a time where prejudice against Jewish people was very evident. One character, Shylock who is Jewish, is put in a situation where he gets involved with Christian folk. Shylock gets cheated by them, loses his daughter, his money, and even in trial he doesn’t get what was rightfully his. Because he was Jewish he was treated unfairly making me feel intense emotions of sympathy for him. On page 46, line 47 Shylock has a speech where he says, “He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, thwarted my bargains…” In the speech he lists ways in which he was treated unfairly because he was a Jew and this made me sympathise with him. No one should be discriminated against because of their religion. It made me feel angry at the society which has made him lose so much. I also sympathised with him because he is seen as the antagonist of this play, even when he has done nothing wrong and has been wronged. 

The Merchant of Venice creates very interesting situations where characters do things that are illogical and this makes you interested in how it will turn out. For example, Bassanio loans money out in order to make an attempt at making more money by marrying Portia. He puts everything and his friend’s body on the line for a one out of three chance and gaining what he is after. This irrationalism that the characters have makes me curious about what would happen later in the play and what situations the characters would get into. It kept me reading and engaged because I would always expect more situations that are unrealistic and exciting.

Adding on to this The merchant of Venice has lots of clear foreshadowing which keeps you hooked to the story wanting to see what plays out. An example is when Bassanio receives a ring from Portia and is clearly told that this ring is the only thing he must not be parted from. This tells us that something is going to happen where Bassanio gives the ring away. This foreshadowing made me feel excited to see how Portia will react when that situation happens. Like my last point, it keeps you hooked to the play and allows you to continue reading and stay engaged.

This play overall was quite an enjoyable experience. You don’t really know who’s the bad or good guy, and you can decide for yourself. Each character feels good and bad. I really love stories where you can use your own perspective to determine how you perceive the story. It shows how complex the story is and I really enjoyed that part of it.


The Merchant of Venice PR

The merchant of Venice by Shakespeare shows how unfairly Christian people treated Jewish people. Many of the scenes led to me siding with Shylock as he is treated unfairly. Does shylock deserve justice? Did Antonio have mercy? Shylock was one of the characters that I grew emotionally attached to. The scenes that really locked this feeling in for me were his big speech to Salarino and Solanio, and the court scene.

In Shylock’s famous speech “to bait fish withal”, in Act III scene I he talks about how he has lost everything. His daughter has run away, taken thousands of ducats and jewels with her, and Antonio has lost the money that Shylock had lent to him. All Shylock wants is justice and Salarino and Solanio are begging for him to have mercy. They do not see why he would want to cut a pound of flesh off Antonio as punishment for not paying back the money he was lent. This speech has years of mistreatment in it making it more powerful. It seems as if Shylock has always been upset about how unfairly he is treated just because he is a Jew and the fact that he just wants revenge for one thing, he is a bad person. The long speech really shows emotion and gives off the feeling that Shylock is fed up with the world and how he is treated. If all the things said in the speech are true, then I believe Shylock deserves justice. Today, one cannot have this unethical punishment and I believe that it is horrible to kill someone; so obviously I do not think that he should be allowed to kill someone. I do though believe that he deserves justice.

I was constantly confused while reading and did not catch many details of the play. This was because of the big difference of words and grammar from the 1500s until now. While watching the court scene (Act IV scene I) in a film version of the play I understood what was said and what had happened and was in shock. My jaw dropped as I saw how unfair and slimy the Christian characters present made the situation.

During this scene mercy was also mentioned many times and I began to question how accurately it was being used. When Antonio said that Shylock must give up his religion and give him half of his wealth, I immediately felt hatred towards Antonio. Portia even started saying how Antonio was showing mercy which to me was wrong and unfair. I was appalled at how she could get away with that. It is so unfair how the system was back then and how unfairly the Jewish were treated.

The Merchant of Venice

The end of the book leaves many questions unanswered! Who is the merchant of Venice now, and would Shylok really have cut a pound of flesh from Antonio’s chest if Portia had not found a solution?

Shakespeare here portrays Antonio as the good Christian, and Shylok as the evil Jew. However, at the time Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice, “officially there were no Jews living in England” because they were “banished by law.” So, what is this drama really about? About the theme of friendship and the trust that goes with it?

Likewise, Shakespeare thematizes friendship, love and trust. Bassanio is faced with the decision of what is more important to him: his love for Portia or his friendship with Antonio and he chooses friendship. He also gives the scholar, who is Portia in reality, his wedding ring as a reward for his help at the trial. If he had known that Portia was hiding under the scholar’s costume, he probably would never have said this to Antonio and certainly would not have given away his wedding ring. But in Bassanio’s case, friendship has triumphed over love.

Portia, disguised as a scholar, rescues Antonio and at the same time tests Bassanio on his fidelity to her. Bassanio has failed this test and Portia makes him feel it. She makes him feel guilty on his return because he has given away the token of her love. Only later does she reveal that she was the scholar and forgives him. Thus she proves that love triumphs over everything else in her case. The last question that remains open is whether this drama is a comedy or a tragedy. A tragedy always ends with an unhappy ending, which usually consists of the death of the hero or good guy. In this case, Antonio should have died. But at the trial, the drama completely changes direction, when until then it had appeared to be a tragedy. From now on Shakespeare pulls out his comedic stops. At the trial, Portia appears in man’s clothing as a defence lawyer and manages to convince the court. Shylok is even accused and sentenced himself. Thus, nothing stands in the way of a happy ending. So both are present in this drama. Up to the trial it gives the appearance of dealing with a tragedy here, and from then on it turns into a comedy. Let us see, then, in the plot a comedy which, regardless of religion, shows only human weaknesses, and they are the same everywhere.

The Merchant of Venice_Personal Response

Literature is an important part in the arts, it raises questions, extend and explains issues on a much more different level comparing only to visual arts. The Merchant of Venice for example, was a great piece of work crafted that raised many concerns about the basic morals and ethics of human, namely: the justification for revenge and the power, the nature of mercy. This has been shown very well through two important details: Shylock’s main speech about the unfairness of Jews, Portia’s speech about what mercy is.

For Shylock, he is a prime example of someone whose lines have been crossed because of his identity, pushing him to seek revenge and justice. Through understanding his main speech, readers can empathize with him and understand that to discriminate someone because of their originality is wrong. “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? . . . If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute—and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.” (Act 3, Scene 1, line 47-65) Shylock pressed on the matter of the universality of human. We all shares the same of many things: we have the same body parts, food keep all of us full, poisons and weapons can hurt and kill us, etc. If we are so similar in many ways, why would we want to hurt each other so bad? The logic and thought process is very simple that it easy to understand and readers can support Shylock that he should get his revenge. Therefore because humans are similar in many ways, his revenge can be justified.

However, it did not come easy for him as in the courtroom, Portia also made a sound argument as he did but about mercy. “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes…Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this: that in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.” (Act 4, Scene 1, line 183-204) For Portia, mercy is a choice rather than what we should do meaning that human chooses mercy, not vice versa. Applying this logic to Shylock’s motive, then it also make just as much sense because if he did kill Antonio, how much satisfaction will he get out of it? Even then, after killing him, will there be any guarantee that he will not be mistreated anymore? These points, too, are worth noting as it makes us questions about how our actions can be the seeds to bigger consequences that we might have to carry. Not to mention, why is mercy a powerful weapon, according to Portia? To have mercy is not to forget, but to know that even when somebody does something wrong, we do not let loose ourselves of control and poison ourselves. This goes back to the previous question: how much satisfaction comes from revenge for Shylock? Even if it satisfy him well, will he be understood still or just be seen as a cold-blooded killer whom will be shun and hated for the remaining course of his life? 

It is a hard question to answer: what is right? Revenge or mercy? For as if we do not get revenge, we will not be able to redeem for what have been lost. But on the other hand, if we do not have mercy, how worth can our revenges be? Although Shylock has every right to execute Antonio for his revenge, maybe Portia was right, that he could have taken the money that was given to him and move on from his life and have mercy for Antonio not because Portia told him so, but he can do it as his own choice. Even when it was such a tough decision, he can at least give himself peace.

Overall, The Merchant of Venice was well written with many contrasting topics, such as this one and it is a great chance for readers to understand more about the nature of topics like these and broaden their point of view.

The Merchant of Venice

After reading The Merchant of Venice, I came to the understanding that reading the play creates unique imagery and allowed me to have a more personalized interpretation of the play. Whereas while watching the play, my interpretation was not something I could still picture because the play in the movie is interpreted in a specific way created by the director. We were watching how it is already interpreted.  When watching the play in class, the tone and rhythm behind each speech were different in a way. This is because of the fact that the reader is not in control of the tone, rhythm, and imagery any more. The idea of the play has already been conveyed by the director. This meant that watching the play conveyed a stronger feeling than reading it. While reading, I felt I was prioritizing the understanding of every speech because of the different English, while watching it, the main aspect it brought to my attention was the feeling that it was convening in each scene seeing that the acting makes it easier to understand. We can see this when Portia and Nerissa cross-dressed as men.

When I was reading it, I was focusing more on understanding the context and the agreement they were proposing to Shylock and Antonio. However, when we watched it, I could see the whole scene, getting the full idea making me feel interested in what was happening. Watching the play helped me to fully understand, but I also liked reading the play because the language is interesting and I was able to analyze it.

I enjoyed the language as it not only effectively conveys, but also enhances the message behind it. I found the language challenging, as it was really hard to understand Elizabethan English. However, the way it was implemented made it more captivating as a reader.


Merchant of Venice PR

After reading Merchant of Venice I found myself questioning whether Shylock deserved his punishment and if he should deserve the sympathy of the readers. Obviously, when this play would have been first performed in the 1600s no one would have had sympathy for Shylock because of the anti-Semitic culture that was normalized in that time period. However reading the play without this anti-Semitic culture changes the view of Shylock, from the reader’s perspective Shylock’s suffering is immeasurable, but Shylock was trying to cause suffering on another human. Once again there is another “but” because Shylock trying to cause harm to another human (Antonio) was the same person that has treated him like a “dog” and made Shylock have additional suffering as a Jew living in a Christian majority city. From my view, while reading the book I think Shylock’s suffering in the form of his punishment is too severe and that readers should be sympathetic for him.

It is arguable that Shylock should be punished the way he was because he wanted to take another man’s life which is never justifiable, but the reader has to try and imagine what Shylocks scenario would have been like, his daughter was stolen by a Christian man, he has been berated and abused by Christian peoples his whole life ( Especially by Antonio),  he lost half his wealth being stolen by his daughter and then loses 3000 ducats from his bond that isn’t repaid. Shylock should still be punished because he was going to take a man’s life, but he should not be punished to the extent that his own existence is unbearable. Every human has a mental breaking point of the amount of suffering they can endure before their mental health crumbles, and I think Shylock became mentally unstable and was desperate to fill his sadness with a feeling of actually winning for once. It wasn’t Shylock’s fault he reached that mental breaking point either, he was pushed to that limit by the same people that are being punished for reaching that low point which isn’t fair to Shylock’s case. Throughout the whole play, Shylock does not experience a single scenario where he gets even close to what he wants, so in my eyes, I was sympathetic for him because that is not healthy for the human brain to not have any success in anything. 

To conclude I think that Shylock’s punishment is not justified and deserves the sympathy of the reader in the Merchant of Venice. Shylock had suffered throughout this whole play, even though he was going to commit a heinous act of taking somebody’s life, perhaps instead the court could have taken only a fraction of his estate and not forced him to renounce the one thing that he still had, which was his Jewish religion. Shylock did not deserve to lose everything he had, he had already fought throughout the whole play to keep himself together and bear the abuse that Christians had cast upon him throughout the play, I think shylock should have gotten a less severe punishment because of all the wrongings he has already experienced by the Christian peoples.

The Merchant of Venice Personal Response

For me the Merchant of Venice seemed kind of dramatic for me, but also like a classic romance movie as well. I say this because it shows us that Shylock didn’t want Jessica to be with Lorenzo, but they end up running away together. You also have Bassanio who goes to a friend who is Antonio to help him to get the girl he likes. Then Antonio goes to a another person who he does not like who is Shylock, but will tolerate him to help his friend. He than makes an agreement that he’ll pack back Shylock the money he is asking for, and if he doesn’t he will pay with a pound of his flesh. Which in most romance movies is how it normally goes but it’s with death or something like that.

As for the girls it does remind me of a princess movie. I think this because Jessica has no mother, and her father has strongly argued that she does not want her to marry someone of not his choosing, but she does anyways. As for Portia and Nerissa they remind me of still a princess movie, like the two of them had grown up together. Portia’s father had died and we don’t hear or know much about her mother other than that she probably had died as well, which is kind of like a classic Disney princess movie. Nerissa’s parents worked for Portia’s parents and they saw each other one day and became friends.

I think that the book was good, and that it was very interesting. Of course there were some parts that I thought were very emotional and sad. It has also remind me that not everyone thinks of other people as human, but rather inhuman. This is during Shylock’s speech, I felt that really sad and bad for Shylock in this scene because he and other Jews weren’t seen as human beings. To me this reflects back to the real world and that even though time as passed and racism still exist. In this scene it also made me think to never someone if different because if their belief or religion, but rather to always accept them for who they are.

Personal response to The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is an enthralling Shakespearean play with a cast of compelling characters. Shylock, it must be noted, has the audience’s concentration from beginning to finish. The reality that Shylock is a Jew living in a Christian-run city is the most important aspect of his personality. These Christians despise everything Shylock adores and cherishes. They despise the fact that he is a money lender, and his religion holds him in low regard. When Shylock is defending himself, he delivers the play’s most prominent monologue. Any Christian character in the play has a negative attitude toward him. A “misbeliever, [a] cut-throat dog and spit on[his] Jewish gabardine,” they call him (1.3.106-107). Shakespeare, on the other hand, does not portray Shylock as just a survivor. In reality, Shylock’s defense of his predicament is one of the most stirring and thought-provoking speeches in literature. “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?” (3.1.52-57).

Nevertheless, he can be a profoundly nasty character with all his admirable humanism. His own daughter resents him, takes advantage of others’ economic hardships, and mistreated his servant, Lancelot. He is concerned about the missing money as his daughter runs away, takes money and jewels with her, hoping that she was “dead at [his] foot and the jewels in her ear,” (3.2.79-80). What makes Shylock so interesting is that learning how to respond to him is very challenging. As one closely studies the play, one learns that Shylock has several important motivations to act as he does. While he treats Antonio despicably, without reason, he is not as we have seen. The latter has “spat on” him, “spurned” him, and “called [him] dog.” by his own admission. In comparison, Antonio is completely dismissive of the complaints made by Shylock. “In fact, he even goes as far as promising to do the same again, “I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too” (1.3125-126). The idea that he accepts an all-consuming hate fueled by a need to gain revenge at any cost is what makes Shylock’s character so interesting, “If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him” (1.3.41-42).

As a result, in order to beat Antonio, he devises a heinous scheme. Since Shylock’s plots are exposed, Shakespeare disturbs the reader once again, and he is brought to justice. The play spends a lot of time discussing the philosophy of justice and the quality of grace. When Shylock, on the other hand, puts himself at the hands of the judge, Christian justice is revealed for what it is. “Be assur’d, thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest” (4.1.313-314). In the heartbreaking courtroom scene, we see a serious abuse of judicial power. Shylock is forced to abandon his faith and give Antonio half of his wealth, with the other half going to the daughter who betrayed him. Despite his crimes, the sight of a broken and almost destitute Shylock remains difficult to bear. Shylock is an interesting character for me because he evokes so many contradictory emotions in me. I was disgusted by his botched assassination of Antonio, as well as outrage and pity at the scene of the crime. Despite the fact that the play is titled The Merchant of Venice, it is mostly about Shylock, the Jewish moneylender.

English: PR to MoV

In The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, revenge is in some ways justified but in other cases is not. The difference between right and wrong when it comes to revenge is similar to the difference between Christians and Jews. This difference is what makes Shylock’s desire for revenge justified.

The act of revenge due to abuse is justified when it comes to Shylocks life but not the Christians’ lives. Shylock wanted revenge for how Antonio treated him. “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, / And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, / And all for use of that which is mine own” (Act 1, Scene 3, ll. 106-108). Words are harmful but they can be ignored, but when Antonio continuously bad-mouthed Shylock to the point where Shylock’s religion was being treated like trash is what resulted in Shylock revolting. What pushed Shylock over the edge was him losing his daughter and his money to a Christian. His actions towards revenge at first seemed unjust but in the end, when Shylock’s religion was thrown away we felt empathy for him… Now the Jews were in the right while the Christians were in the wrong, but Shylock being by himself against many Christians the chances of him succeeding in his revenge was almost impossible.

Revenge cannot be justified as right when there is a chance that someone will suffer. Shylocks revenge was fueled by rage and hatred towards Antonio. He decided that making a loan and acting kindly towards Antonio will aid him later on with his true desire…

“O father Abram, what these Christians are, / Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect / The thoughts of others! Pray you tell me this: / If he should break his day what should I gain / By the exaction of the forfeiture? / A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man, / Is not so estimable, profitable neither, / As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say / To buy his favour, I extend this friendship. / If he will take it, so; if not adieu, / And for my love, I pray you wrong me not” (Act 1, Scene 3, ll. 156-166).

He wanted to kill Antonio by using a loan they both signed. His desire to kill Antonio because of hatred was unjust because although Antonio might have harmed Shylock mentally he did not physically harm Shylock. Antonio deserved to apologize at least to Shylock but this was never going to be enough because with his daughter gone, Shylock had barely any money and no one on his side, all he had was himself and his religion.

The difference between what is right and what is wrong is like the difference between Christians and Jews, they can never accept each other. “Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation, / and, in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of / hard conscience to offer to counsel me to stay with the / Jew” (Act 2, Scene 1, ll. 24-27). Neither religion is right or wrong in a sense. They act based on how they have been raised. If calling the other a devil lives up to the normal standard of life then they do not deserve to be called people.  While Christians prominently overrule Jews both want mercy for different reasons… Jews meaning Shylock alone wants mercy for his religion, he wants to be respected for who he is, he is tired of being shunned by the Christians. The Christians want Shylock to show mercy to Antonio, they want mercy but we can see that when they made Shylock beg for his life they did not show him any mercy whatsoever. It seems as if their actions are lies for the truth, wanting mercy vs actually showing mercy, the Christians truly are terrible people towards Jews. Christians and Jews within this story seem as if they will never respect one another, if Antonio was to have never provoked Shylock maybe Shylock would have been able to save his identity. Without his identity, without any sign of mercy from anyone around him Shylock was no longer a Jew, he was no longer himself.

The effect that inflicting revenge can have on a person or group of people will never result in anything good. Revenge is fueled by hatred, by a change in your life that you can’t accept and this is exactly what we saw in Shylock’s case. He lost everything in the end because of revenge. What good did it bring him to try and force change upon the Christians? Nothing good came out of his actions… All that came was more pain and more loss for his already broken character.


The Merchant Of Venice, Does Money Corrupt Us?

Does money automatically corrupt us, is there a way to be wealthy/rich without changing for the money. Why does money tempt us to do things that we wouldn’t if it was not involved? How much control do we have over our own decisions with money implanted within our lives 24/7? Is it possible to stay the same person with a clear open mindset or do our minds become diluted with numbers and status? The Merchant of Venice’ has examples of this question throughout the book.

It is a well-known fact that people naturally change their behavior when put in certain situations, these situations could be from stress, popularity and of course what I will be talking about, MONEY. We see the theme of money and love being put together throughout this book and I found it interesting to see how much money meant, and what people would do for it. Bassanio gives an example of it almost immediately after getting engaged to Portia the wealthy beautiful princess. He says “When I told you My state was nothing, I should have told you that I was worse than nothing; for indeed I have Engaged myself to a dear friend, Engaged my friend to his mere enemy, To feed my means.”   (Act 3, Scene 2, L 256) Bassanio reveals that he is indeed in debt and needs help from Portia’s wealth. Portia’s wealth is the driving factor for Bassanio to make the trip to her in order to marry her so that he could use her wealth to solve his issues he has seemed to help stir up involving his dear friend Antonio. Bassanio changes for the money and in the long run, it almost ends up costing his friend’s life. This to me is Someone acting for someone they do not care much for in order to inhabit their riches which is changing for the money. In the merchant of Venice this act does not Completely corrupt Bassanio, but it seems to me as though he was spared.

Some people are not able to stay mentally sane with vast amounts of money. With money comes people and people bring issues, it seems harsh but, everyone has an opinion that they want to have heard. It’s a lot of work to try not to mess up anything and only do good things for people or whatever it is. Portia In this Play does seem to be able to handle her wealth mindfully and does not seem to do anything wrong, she seems like the perfect woman to marry for a man back then. But does Portia use her wealth for good or bad? When she goes to the trial to help Bassanio save his friend Antonio, she does end up proving Shylock’s wrong, who wants Antonio dead. But she does not only prove him wrong she destroys him by tearing away have of what he owns. Is this good or bad is a question I still ask. Should she have given shylock some mercy?

Money influences us inevitably it seems. Sometimes worse than others. The money will not always corrupt you but will raise new problems that will be needed to be solved. If the problems are not solved money can corrupt you. The difference between good and bad have a very fine line. It seems impossible to keep someone happy without keeping others angry just like shylock and Bassanio after the Trial.




Personal Response to The Merchant Of Venice

Love is such a broad word, but we use it to describe so many things. The Merchant of Venice portrays the complexity of love, as it often associates love with the desire for wealth, power, and beauty.

“Pure Love” is different from marriage. When Portia makes her first appearance in the play, she complains, “But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband.” (Act 1, Scene 2, ll. 20,21) We see that she desires to marry someone she has affection for, but she has no choice; her marriage is determined by “chance”. As Bassanio opens the casket and marries Portia, we temporarily forget that marriage doesn’t necessary require love. Portia has long hinted to us, “In terms of choice I am not solely led/ By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes.” (Act 2, Scene 1, ll. 13, 14) Thus, there isn’t “pure love” in marriage.

The relationship between Jessica and Lorenzo is another example of how we must not confuse marriage with love. There is no doubt that Lorenzo and Jessica adore each other, but there are many hints in the play where Lorenzo associates his affection for Jessica with the amount of fortune Jessica takes from her father. “She hath directed / How I shall take her from her father’s house, / What gold and jewels she is furnish’d with, What page’s suit she hath in readiness.” (Act 2, Scene 5, ll. 29-32) Jessica has “hath prov’d herself” by bringing her dowry and converting to a Christian, thus she is “wise, fair, and true,” and only then can she be “placed” in Lorenzo’s “constant soul.” (Act 2, Scene 6, ll. 53-58)

Jessica’s love towards Lorenzo is not pure love either. As she talks about the “tediousness” of her father and her house, she immediately feels guilty, but quickly diminishes this guilt by thinking about Lorenzo. “Alack, what heinous sin is it in me / To be asham’d to be my father’s child! / But though I am a daughter to his Blood / I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, / If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, / Become a Christian and thy loving wife.” (Act 2, Scene 3, ll. 15-20) If she doesn’t take her own dowry and marry Lorenzo, she will likely marry someone Shylock choses. Then again, we see how marriage doesn’t necessarily require love, and especially “pure and true love.”

In The Merchant of Venice, marriage is portrayed as the exchange of power. And love cannot survive without it. Portia willingly gives Bassanio her “powers”; “yet for you / I would be trebled twenty times myself, / A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times / More rich, that only to stand high in your account / I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, / Exceed account.” (Act 3, Scene 2, ll. 152-157) This is only possible because Bassanio had chosen the right casket, but Portia’s affection for him is a prominent reason; before Bassanio chooses the caskets, she already admits that “One half of me is yours, the other half yours— / Mine one, I would say: but if mine then yours, / And so all yours.” (Act 3 Scene 2, ll.16-18) If her husband is chosen by “fortune,” she might as well marry someone she likes. But if she was never a noble birth, Bassanio and the other suitors will never pursue her.

The love between Antonio and Bassanio is more ambiguous as it doesn’t perfectly fall into the category of either romantic love or friendship. What Antonio has done for Bassanio is incredible considering that they are known just as “kinsmen,” or friends; but Antonio’s affection for Bassanio is adulterated with a confusion about his sexual orientation, and anti-Semitism, as he prevents Bassanio from committing usury. We can interpret Antonio’s willingness to borrow Bassanio such a large sum of money as his affection towards Bassanio. But we can also see it as Antonio’s only way of expressing a type of love that is not commonly accepted at the time, for a Christian. Other than lending Bassanio large sums of money, there are limited options towards how he can express his affection. From Shylock’s famous speech, we know that Antonio has “hindered” him “half a million” (Act 3, Scene 1, ll. 48, 49) by preventing his friends from committing usury, “and it is very likely that he wants to keep Bassanio out of it too.

Love will always be impure and untrue. Pure love, if it exists, cannot possibly survive on this world without money or power. But is “contaminated love” not love? Shakespeare depicts these complex feelings through the characters in the play. And I think it is very accurate to how humans actually behave. But it also means I can never really find answers to these questions about The Merchant of Venice. It must take a lifetime to completely understand it.



Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

Throughout this play, we see so much un-reasoned hate towards Shylock and his people, the people that hate shylock and his people are prejudiced towards him. People that are prejudice are usually prejudice because of generalized hate for something and do not have actual hate towards it or they actually have some prejudice against someone. With the first part about that about generalized prejudice, is that people hate others because of what others are doing which isn’t a good mindset, but I do think this actually happens and is something very real. An example of this is when Shylock enters the courtroom in the movie we watched that he gets spat on, called names, and looked at as if he is an alien. The generalized hate / generalized prejudice is from the people doing the weird stare and not saying anything, and then the people that are spitting on him and calling him names have actual prejudice against him.

With this prejudice against Shylock and his people, I feel as though there shouldn’t be revenge The first being why it isn’t justified, this is because the odds were stacked against Shylock to begin with, this is shown when in the story from line 345 to 361 on Act 4, Scene 1. The summary of what happens here is that Portia says that if you shed any blood from a Christian under venetian law that you will be put to death or in prison. So even if he tried to to take the pound of flesh he would shed blood and this pound would be his revenge for losing his money, and in this it isn’t worth it meaning it’s not justified to do so because he would just die or go to prison. Also with not taking revenge, in my opinion I feel as though its more powerful to give mercy in hope that they are nice to you back especially if they are mean to you, which could decrease prejudice and possibly form a bond (which is kind of unlikely).

The last question being Is it possible to be both rich and good, or does wealth inevitably corrupt us? I feel as though with this you need to define what good means because are you good if you donate to charity? if you volunteer every weekend at a homeless shelter? if you are nice to people? if you have never sinned? the word can have many meanings which makes the question almost impossible to answer, but lets say what makes you a good person if you are kind to others and have a big positive impact on the world (without the direct cause of money ex. planting 100 trees in the forest over a week by yourself or with others.) with this meaning now here I feel as though it is possible for someone who is rich to be good. But with the wealth inevitably corrupting you, it depends how you get your wealth, like if you are an owner of a chain of a loan lending company with lots of interest, then the more money you get the more corrupt you get because you are taking it from the people that need it the most, because they can’t go to a bank, in turn you are taking money from very poor people, and in turn it is immoral to keep running this business. But if you are like Khan Academy which like helps people learn things and is a free service, and gets a lot of donations which in turn increases wealth (after like all taxes and other expenses) then in this case wealth wouldn’t inevitably corrupt you. This relates to The Merchant of Venice, most of the people in the Merchant of Venice are not kind at all to Jewish people which in turn (in that aspect) every rich Christian in that aspect is not good, and wealth in the story is usually only by Christian people (I think) so this means that no one in the story is a good person in any aspect.

Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

Love, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial, is portrayed as impure in The Merchant of Venice. In this play, love is rarely mentioned without association to money or status. We’re introduced to these ideas from the beginning, when Solanio and Salarino claim that the only possible sources for Antonio’s sadness are his fortunes or love (Act I, Scene I, pp. 1-3). This establishes the two main priorities in this play, leaving us with the impression that they’re connected. Money is a reason for love, money helps create love, and money increases the meaning of love. If love is pure, why are Bassanio’s first remarks about Portia based on her wealth and beauty (Act I, Scene I, p. 6)? Love shouldn’t be superficial, but it is often represented as such. If love is pure, why does Jessica need a dowry to marry Lorenzo (Act II, Scene VI, pp. 34-26)? In this scenario, marriage is established as transactional and systematic, so why do we use it as the marker of love? If love is pure, why is Shylock’s heartbreak over his daughter’s departure equally painful due to his love for her, and his love for the money she took with her (Act III, Scene I, pp. 47-49)? Oftentimes, love is contaminated with greed, desire, and immorality; but so are most things. Does that diminish the love’s sincerity and value?

Coinciding with the purity of love, this play demonstrates the prevalence of power’s influence on relationships, causing us to question whether that is moral. If power is involved in the formation and preservation of a relationship, is it genuine? For instance, Portia has power stemming from her beauty, wealth, and status. Without these attributes, Portia would barely have a place in the world, let alone the multitude of suitors she has. Her relationship with Bassanio would be nonexistent, because she wouldn’t be in any position of power. In the play, Portia and Bassanio get married, and in doing so Portia relinquishes her power and wealth to him. Bassanio’s newly acquired possession of control would change the dynamic of their relationship. Suddenly, he runs the household, has the power to control Portia, and is seen as the more important figure between them. Should we let power have such a strong influence on us, or would it be better to disregard it, to combat the inequality rather than enforce it? We can also examine the relationship between Antonio and Shylock, as a representation of the relationship between Christians and Jews. Originally, Antonio has more power than Shylock, since he is a Christian. Using his power, Antonio constantly condemns and mistreats him, which defines their adversarial relationship. Later, when Shylock gains power stemming from the bargain, Antonio is at his mercy. The nature of relationships completely changes depending on power, leading to the discrimination we see from Christians to Jews, the patriarchal relationships shown between men and women throughout this play, and other unhealthy imbalances.

Shakespeare often plays with deceit throughout his literature, in both form and content. On a literal level, we associate deceptive appearances with Portia and Nerissa’s disguises as men; a tactic they used to save Antonio from death. We may also remember when Portia calls herself an “unlesson’d girl, unschool’d, unpractis’d” (Act III, Scene II, p. 54), which we later discover is completely false. She claims that at the beginning of her engagement with Bassanio, when in fact, she is quite brilliant. Digging even deeper, when Portia is acting as Antonio’s lawyer, she delivers a powerful speech about mercy, “The quality of mercy is not strained / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” (Act IV, Scene I, p. 73). Or, it appeared powerful and heartfelt, until she demonstrated her hypocrisy by not showing mercy to Shylock, merely pages later. This employment of deceit utilized by Shakespeare allows us to question sincerity as a whole; how often are people truly sincere, and how often are they only acting sincere for self-serving purposes? Deception leads to mistrust; a cracked foundation, a flawed reliance on others. The Merchant of Venice allows us to explore questions that may be applicable to ourselves, from a distance. Sometimes, it takes reading about hypocrisy to recognize it in our own lives, and to question how we can avoid the alterable flaws shown in fictional characters.

Trevor Van Dyk English: PR to MoV 14/02/2021

The constituents of what provides us life satisfaction are complexed. In one position is the allocation of love, honesty, and sensation, while opposed to power and possession. What belief is applied variates with the person, who draws their decisions from experience. Experience is the driving factor of our characteristics, and I believe, is both conscious and unconscious. What defines experience is that which defines truth, although based substantially on the unconscious; the intangible, the impossible to conceptualize. The manifestations of this complexion display in our life activities. What drives us to love is unknown, neither to appreciate art. Contrarily, the drive for wealth is evident: it provides the means to exact more influence over one’s environment. Therefore, we inhabit a world where alternate incentives pull at our longing for improvement. These forces require different philosophies and fulfill opposite qualities in our sensation of experience.

Love is infinitely unique and is subject to influence by any other of the human qualities. A theme in The Merchant of Venice, is love versus trust. Lorenzo rescues Jessica from Shylock, so breaking Shylock’s trust for her love. Gratiano gets engaged with Nerissa spontaneously, in about one page worth of dialogue, giving no time for development of trust between the characters. When Bassanio loses Portia’s ring, the symbol of his commitment to her is lost. In each case, trust shows no prevailing purity, undermining what pure love should be like.

Is devotion to a person ever fully authentic, and stabilized? Certainly not. The power dynamic in the marriage between Portia and Bassanio comprehended all Portia’s wealth would go to her husband. “…her gentle spirit commits itself to yours to be directed as from her lord” (III, ii, 163-165). Portia dedicates herself to her husband. Take example how Shylock treated Jessica, how he would constrain and inhibit her liberties. Equality and complete altruism in love is likely impossible and cannot be found. Every romance has faults and discrepancies, limitations that make it not wholly in consensus.

Understanding love is very frequently corrupt, perhaps a balanced outlook on love vs. money would be the human requires both. If one has too much love, they experience the pressure of liquidating said love, or if one possesses too much money, as in Crassus, member of the Roman Triumvirate and richest man of the classical world, felt when he bought two legions and crossed the Euphrates to attempt conquering Parthia. Certain humans pursue the path of culture, art, love, while others pursue that of power, and wealth. Yo-yo Ma had business as a cello player, however found no love in just that.

The largest distinction between art and love, and power and wealth, is that the former investigates the meaning of truth, and the latter of harnessing that which is tangible. One invokes inquisition, the other of mastery. In essence, I would believe both are vital. Art is the realm of both. When one follows art, they employ meaning with resonance, and skill and practice. One can approach it as the mastery of a medium, and as a canvas on which to investigate. It even distributes the allure inquiring on aesthetic has to a wide audience, that they can respect individually and give power and money towards the creator: the celebrity.

In that understanding, art is as corrupt as money is. To try and elevate from the impure lust for prosperity, for the purity of investigation, is to give up on practicing, improving—beautiful exploitation. Perhaps the virtuous person is one who recognizes both concepts, the tangible and the uncharted, and employs them to reach resonance. To obsess on achieving pure love, then switch to having the ultimate wealth, and recycle, is not how to be, yet it is to embrace both simultaneously. Ambiguity is undeniable with where the equity is, how one should choose between power and explanation. Perhaps the reason why so many, if all people spend all their life striving for this goal shows how complexed, complex, and how variable our complexion is. If that is so, then no doubt is the reason why love is so fickle, rare, and unfortunate.