The first instance of music in the play can be found when Shylock tells his daughter, Jessica, to, “Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum; And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife, / But stop my house’s ears-” (2.5.30-45). Shakespeare gives the reader an insight into the metropolitan world of Venice and its obsession with commerce. Being a center of trade in the Mediterranean Sea, Venice is not only a financial hub, but also it is a cultural center featuring different cultures from all over the world. Shylock’s insistence to devoid his daughter of culture, of the drums and the “vile squealing of the wry-necked fife” shows the difficult and sheltered upbringing Jessica had in Shylo...
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...l of the creatures of the temporal world (specifically the characters of the play) are simply fixated upon material possessions and not the aspects of higher culture, which can lead to a greater understanding of the unknown. Indeed, Shakespeare’s decision to include music in The Merchant of Venice gives the play a unique aspect of life that cannot be reconciled easily. Music complicates a reader’s understanding of the play due to the meaning it is ascribed according to a character’s role in the play. Because there is no objective use of music in the play, music functions as a subjective means of explaining particular situations and giving the character’s themselves new meanings that wouldn’t initially be understood. Evidently, the role of music is reserved to some of the most intricate scenes of the play, a choice that Shakespeare made which enriched those scenes.
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