"I hate him for he is a Christian" (Act 1 Scene 3, line 34). This
quote tells me a lot about Shylock's true character, which would help
me to direct Act 4 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's play - A Merchant of
Venice. This is the aim of my essay.
Act 4 Scene 1 is very important, both within Act 4, and within the
play as a whole. Act 4 is the act in which Antonio and Shylock's trial
takes place and Antonio's life is saved. Scene 1 shows the trial and
is the main and longest scene in the act.
The Merchant of Venice is a play with many themes. It shows religious
conflict - between Judaism (represented by Shylock) and Christianity
(the general population of the play), money and friendship in the form
of Bassanio's loan, and the thin line between justice and revenge.
The Play starts in Venice, with Bassanio trying to borrow money from
Antonio, so that he can marry Portia of Belmont. Portia meanwhile, is
putting her potential suitors to the test that her father set for them
shortly before his death. She does not want to marry any of them, and
is just starting to tell of her feelings for Bassanio when
interrupted. Antonio agrees to take a 3000 ducat loan from Shylock
(the Jewish money lender), as he has his boats for security, whereas
Bassanio has nothing. However the condition on the loan, due to
Shylock's hate for Antonio is a pound of Antonio's flesh, if the loan
is not paid back in three months. While all of this is going on,
Shylock's daughter Jessica runs away with Lorenzo, a young Christian,
and Bassanio goes to Belmont and wins Portia for his wife. Antonio is
taken to t...
... middle of paper ...
...creativity and has a lot of influence on the
play due to the lack of stage directions. Lines 70-83 of Act 4 Scene 1
are particularly open to directorial interpretation.
"I pray you think you question with the Jew.
You may as well go stand upon the beach
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise
When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do anything most hard
As seek to soften that - than which what's harder? -
His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you
Make no moe offers, use no farther means,
But with all brief and plain conveniency
Let me have judgement, and the Jew his will."
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