The Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare Essay

The Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare Essay

Length: 1750 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Women of the late 16th century were subjected to patriarchal ways and not granted the same rights and privileges as males. Yet, Shakespeare gives women in The Merchant of Venice significant roles in controlling the fates of all of the other characters. Portia and Nerissa cleverly disguise themselves as an esteemed lawyer and clerk, respectively, and interpret the law in such a way that Antonio and Bassanio are saved from Shylock’s bond, while Shylock is forced into a position of utter humiliation. The William’s Center for the Arts takes The Merchant of Venice and amplifies the play’s feminist qualities, not only through context of the play and performance, but also through gender-blind casting.
Within many Shakespearian plays, roles of women often focus on their intelligence, strength, and perseverance. This may indicate Shakespeare’s understanding that women should be treated equal to men and receive equal opportunities like that of men and pose the possibility of Shakespeare himself being a feminist. However, this possibility can be misperceived, for at the end of the play, the strong, independent woman usually settles back into society with her husband and submitting herself to the patriarchy. Within the play The Merchant of Venice, the female characters accomplish amazing feats to fix the messes that their husbands had made and achieve their own goals. In doing so, they control the fates of all characters. However, at the end, they return to their subordinate positions as wives, as if nothing had actually happened. Portia, Nerissa and Jessica were able to look into the ideals of feminism whilst disguised in men’s clothing and go unnoticed by men around them. In later scenes, when Portia and Nerissa push the boundaries of thei...


... middle of paper ...


...mes of radical feminism during a time of a male-dominated society. Radical feminism is evident through Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica’s alterations of gender and appearance to hide amongst men and go unnoticed. Although Shakespeare may not have intentionally written The Merchant of Venice with radical feminism in mind, but it defies patriarchal views of women’s expectations and capabilities of the time. Moreover, Director Michael O’Neill heightened the theme of radical feminism by incorporating the use of gender-blind casting, casting women in men roles; this is symbolic of the cross-dressings of Portia, Jessica, and Nerissa in the play. Thus, the Williams Center for the Arts production of The Merchant of Venice brought forth new dimensions to the classic Shakespeare play, and transformed it into a clear (but maybe not intentional) form and example of radical feminism.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

- Upon an initial examination of William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, a reader is provided with superficial details regarding the moral dilemmas embedded in the text. Further analysis allows a reader to recognize the multi-faceted issues each character faces as an individual in response to his or her surroundings and/or situations. Nevertheless, the subtle yet vital motif of music is ingrained in the play in order to offer a unique approach to understanding the plot and its relationship with the characters....   [tags: The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare, Love]

Strong Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

The Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare And Post War Maus Essay

- It is fairly obvious that marginalization can distort logic action and reason. Even if one is not inherently marginalized, trauma, whether physical or mental, may occur from unfortunate experiences. Case in point, we as a society become more aware of those living with PTSD every day, such as soldiers and victims of sexual assault, and how these people are challenged to continue living a normal life. We see veterans flock to the Artillery Club, victims of assault go to group counselling, trying to find people that share their experiences and understand how they feel....   [tags: Love, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare]

Strong Essays
1414 words (4 pages)

Essay on Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

- Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice With every great story line comes a theme. William Shakespeare created an art of intertwining often unrecognizable themes within his plays. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, one hidden theme is the idea of homosexuality. This theme might not have even been noticed until modern Shakespeare fans discovered them. According to Alan Bray’s book, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, “the modern image of ‘the homosexual’ cannot be applied to the early modern period, when homosexual behavior was viewed in terms of the sexual act and not an individual's broader identity.” (Columbia University Press)....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1464 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Iago's Motives in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

- Iago's Motives in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Iago, having the typical attributes of a Machiavelli character; seems to be inherently evil. He revels in his ability to dissemble and destroy. Defending himself through constant reassurances- Iago claims to disgrace Cassio because of his `daily beauty' and the fact that a `Florentine' who knows nothing about battles `more than a spinster' becomes lieutenant. This seems to outrage him- a spark that sets of the fire raging in his heart. As a result, he fabricates an ingenious plan- one by one he would make everyone pay....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
768 words (2.2 pages)

The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare The "Merchant Of Venice" is a poem I have studied recently and will be going on to describe it's four themes - Love/Hate/Friendship and Money. I will go on to describe contrasting characters in the poem. The theme Love is mostly shown through Portia & Bassanio, because all she wanted was to have a choice in the man she married and the reason she could not do this was because her fathers will had forbidde. When Portia & Bassanio meet they really feel they want to be with each other but she does not want Bassanio to chose casket straight away because if he picks the wrong casket he must not see Portia again....   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
385 words (1.1 pages)

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare was written between 1594-1596.It is classified as a comedy; it is also a work of good triumphs over evil, but serious themes are examined and some issues remain unresolved. In the play Shakespeare has woven together plots from different books. Shakespeare gets the bond story and the story of the ring from an Italian novella, LL Pecorone, in a collection put together by Sir Geovanni and published in 1558....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
2196 words (6.3 pages)

Essay on The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice is a play full of different relationships ranging from love and friendships to hate. These relationships are affected by gossips and rumours, which due to the close community are flying around all the time. Money is involved in everything in the play; it is at the centre of work, relationships and rumours. It also holds together and makes the main tension of the play. There are many relationships in The Merchant of Venice....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1565 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The famous play 'The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare concerns several plot lines, including the bond, the ring, the caskets and the elopement. The bond is the main plot and usury is a key part of this. It is because Shylock is a moneylender who lends money to a Christian. Shylock is crucial because he is a crucial character to 2 plots including the main one. When Antonio first meets Shylock he is immediately unkind to Shylock because he is a Jew....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
522 words (1.5 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare, having spent most of his youth in England, was influenced by England’s beliefs. England was going through a Christian reformation that had caused friction between Christians and Jews. Jews and Christians did not see eye to eye on almost everything and especially on usury, the practice of lending money with interest. Boyce, a Shakespearean critique, sums up the negative attitude that Christians had on Jews in the 16th Century: “Sixteenth-Century Englishmen tended to attribute to Jews only two important characteristics, both negative: first, that Jews detested Christians and gave much energy to devi...   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1878 words (5.4 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare features, Shylock a very controversial character due to his religion, profession and personal traits. Professionally Shylock lends money to people in debt, in order to gain interest and profit. Although, this is very much central to our modern way of life, in the Elizabethan period, money lending was not accepted as an acceptable profession. Throughout "The Merchant of Venice" Shylock is portrayed as menacing, inhumane and slightly eccentric, yet at times misunderstood and induces sympathy from the reader....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1254 words (3.6 pages)