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Essay about Appearance vs. Reality in The Merchant of Venice

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Appearance vs. Reality in The Merchant of Venice


The Merchant of Venice explores the theme of Appearance versus Reality. The theme is supported with many examples in the form of characters, events and objects.

During the discussion of the bond, Shylock says to Antonio “ I would be friends with you and have your love” and “this kindness will I show”. He pretends to be Antonio’s friend, but he has an ulterior motive, which is to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh from whatever part of his body he pleases. The underlying meaning is to kill him, and thus, although Shylock seems good-hearted, he is in truth, harbouring deceit. Shylock is manipulative and crafty as he tries to put up a show to deceive Antonio. He sounds generous about offering the three thousand ducats without “usance for my moneys”, thus winning Antonio’s trust. This was done to divert Antonio’s attention from his actual intentions. However, Shylock proposes a flesh bond as a “merry sport”, in substitution for not charging interest. The bond, although an unusual forfeit, is a serious matter, because Antonio may be killed from accepting its terms and conditions. Shylock is a brilliant strategist, and even the perceptive businessman, Antonio, has fallen for it. Shylock is a vindictive and unforgiving man, whose hatred for Christians has driven him to want to kill Antonio. We know that Shylock has suffered emotionally and physically because of how Antonio has kicked, spat and rated him many a times. Thus he deserves some of our pity, as taking revenge on your enemy is only natural.

Launcelot is a Christian and should hate Jews, but instead he is a trustworthy friend and confidante to a Jewish girl, Jessica. He is not religiously prejudiced against Jessica becaus...


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...d yet for my affection.” Although the suitors have an equal chance in winning Portia, they are neither brave nor wise enough to be able to get through the choosing of the caskets. The caskets gold and silver looked attractive compared to lead. However, because lead had many more uses than gold and silver, it is considered more valuable. Prince of Morocco chose the gold casket because he is superficial, greedy and materialistic. Prince of Arragon chose the silver casket and thus it reveals that he too is superficial, trying to be someone he is not. As for those who choose the lead casket, it shows that they are intellectual, and not easily deceived by false values.

The theme of Appearance versus Reality comes in the form of lies, deception and disguise. From this essay, I realised that people’s characters are affected by events that appear in a way that is untrue.


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