Merchant of Venice essay
Essay • November 29, 2010
Merchant of Venice Essays – summaries and critiques
Often students of language and literature are expected to write essays on literary classics. Merchant of Venice essays are of this genre.
Shakespeare’s play, Merchant of Venice is classified as “romantic comedy” by the pundits. Many believe that it was written during 1596-98 AD and staged for the first time in 1600. It is full of melodramatic twists and turns and sports a liberal dose of poetic clichés. The famous adage “All that glitters is not gold” owes its sheen to this play.
This post assumes that those who attempt Merchant of Venice essays have read the play at least once. If not, please do so. After all Physics students may not be probably writing such essays!
The plot moves in three distinct story streams, converging and culminating in a happy ending.
One Antonio stands surety to his friend Bassanio by mortgaging his own merchandise on high seas as collateral. The contract demands a pound of Antonio’s flesh on default. One Portia redeems Antonio by a courtroom argument conceding a pound of flesh taken without a drop of blood.
Portia’s father’s will denies inheritance if she fails to select a suitor as specified. Her suitors were expected to make the right choice from three caskets, to win Portia’s hand. Eventually Bassanio chooses right and marries Portia.
The third stream dwells upon the lender Shylock’s conspiracies to ensure Bassanio’s default and extract a pound of flesh from Antonio. Shylock loses all of his properties after Portia proves his guilt.
- The teacher may require just a summary of the story in Merchant of Venice essays, restricted to a given number of words. The requirement can be met by expanding or abridging the above story streams to serve the purpose. But do not wander in the peripheries losing sight of the overall plot.
- The play offers a bounty of opportunities for well written critiques.
- Shakespeare’s word craft and poetic prose are delights to dwell upon. Particularly the narrative of the play, rich repository of beautiful aphorisms in the second story stream described above and memorable monologues provide unlimited options for essay craft.
- The diversity of the Dramatis personae and their portrayal in the play is a rich crop ready for harvest in essays. The tragicomical script for Lancelot Gobbo in the play is a treasure trove to explore and expound.
- There is enough material in the play for a historical and sociological perspective in Merchant of Venice essays. The pet prejudices and stereotyping of the 16th century AD provide enough spice for argumentative essays. The student can talk of anti-Semitism, overdose of religious bigotry and Shakespeare’s zest for proselytizing crusade. These can be beefed up with well researched compelling historical justifications or absence thereof.
Written by Gregory Cox
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