Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is still relevant today because it
deals with issues which still affect us. Throughout the play a distinction
is made between how things appear and how they are in reality. The issue of appearance
versus reality is demonstrated in varied ways, mainly by the use of real-life
situations. The first representation of this is Shylock's generosity with his
money and eagerness to make friends with Antonio when he says, "I say, to buy
his favour, I extend this friendship," when all he wants is to take a pound of
Antonio's flesh and end his life, "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will
feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him." Shylock pretends to want to be friends
with Antonio, but only wants revenge against the Jew-hater.
The choosing of the three caskets is used as the main explanation of
appearance versus reality. The suitor of Portia must choose either a gold,
silver or lead casket, where the right choice will allow the suitor to marry her.
The Prince of Morocco, on choosing the beautiful gold casket with the
inscription, "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire," sees the message,
"All that glisters is not gold," and is thus turned away by Portia. The Prince
of Arragon, on choosing the silver casket with, "Who chooseth me shall get as
much as he deserves," receives a fool's head, and is told that that is what he
deserves. Bassanio however, on correctly choosing the lead casket with the
inscription, "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath," says, "The
world is still (constantly) deceived with ornament." ...
... middle of paper ...
...actions with one another throughout the play.
Appearance versus reality is explored when Shylock pretends to be Antonio's
friend, with the choosing of the caskets, and when Portia and Nerissa go to
court in disguise to help out Antonio and Bassanio. Racial discrimination is
shown in depth with the confrontations of Antonio and Shylock. Overall 'The
Merchant Of Venice' explores both appearance versus reality and racial prejudice,
which are two issues that still hold importance in present-day society.
Works Cited and Consulted
Barnet Sylvan. "Introduction." The Merchant of Venice Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New
Jersey : Prentice-Hall Inc., 1970. 1-10.
Granville-Barker, Harley. "The Merchant of Venice. " Shakespeare Ed.
Leonard F. Dean. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1947. 37-71.
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