Contemporary Issues in The Merchant of Venice Essay

Contemporary Issues in The Merchant of Venice Essay

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Contemporary Issues in The Merchant of Venice

 
  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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