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Presentation on theme: "This is a partial version of Thinking about The Merchant of Venice, an interactive study guide produced by Shakespeare Help. Viewing this Presentation."— Presentation transcript:

1 This is a partial version of Thinking about The Merchant of Venice, an interactive study guide produced by Shakespeare Help. Viewing this Presentation To view this presentation in Slide Show View: Press the F5 key on the top row of the keyboard, or click the Slide Show tab on the ribbon and then click the From Beginning button. To exit the presentation, press the ESC key. To purchase the complete presentation, please visit: Next Slide

2 An Interactive Study Guide Shylock - László Mednyánszky, 1900 Click the mouse to continue. © 2010, ShakespeareHelp.com

3 Introduction Quizzes Quotes Characters Themes YouTube Videos YouTube Videos Essay Topics Essay Topics What’s in This Study Guide? Home

4 The Text The Text Comedy or Tragedy? Sources Settings Anti-Semitism The Jew of Malta, Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Marlowe Usury Introduction – The Merchant of Venice Main Menu Main Menu

5 Main Menu Main Menu The Merchant of Venice was most likely performed for the first time in It was first published in the first quarto edition in Although there were other pirated editions, the 1600 edition is considered the most accurate and reliable. The 1600 edition was the basis for the text published in the First Folio in 1623, which added stage directions and musical cues. The First Folio is a collection of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays prepared by two of his colleagues 7 years after his death. The Merchant of Venice – The Text Title page of the first quarto (1600) Introduction

6 VeniceBelmont Site of Portia’s estate Fairy-tale world associated with music and love Women are dominant People in Belmont are characterized by kindness and generosity. Portia offers her money to Bassanio to pay Antonio’s debt. Associated with business, commerce, the law The “real” world where practicalities rule Men are dominant People in Venice are greedy and vengeful. Shylock insists on a pound of Antonio’s flesh as vengeance. The Merchant of Venice – Settings Main Menu Main Menu Introduction

7 Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (1590) was a major influence on The Merchant of Venice. Barabas, the main character, is a thoroughly evil villain who is angered by a law that requires Jews to convert to Christianity or give up half their wealth. Barabas resorts to murder and treason and enjoys the suffering of others. There has been extensive debate about the play's portrayal of Jews and how Elizabethan audiences would have viewed it. The Jew of Malta, by Christopher Marlowe Main Menu Main Menu Introduction

8 Act I Act I Act II Act III Act IV Act V Quizzes – The Merchant of Venice Main Menu Main Menu

9 1.Explain the conditions of Portia's father's will.   2.Explain the conditions of the loan Shylock makes to Bassanio. 3.Why does Bassanio need a loan? 4.What are Shylock's reasons for hating Antonio? The Merchant of Venice – Act I Quiz Main Menu Main MenuQuizzes Click the hand  for an answer.

10 1.Explain the conditions of Portia's father's will. 1.Explain the conditions of Portia's father's will. Click anywhere to show answer. By the terms of her father's will, Portia is forbidden to choose freely among her many suitors. She must accept the one who makes the right choice among three caskets: one of lead, one of silver and one of gold. Main Menu Main MenuQuizzes

11 Act I Act I Act II Act III Act IV Act V Quotes – The Merchant of Venice Main Menu Main Menu

12 1.In Belmont is a lady richly left;...Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages.   2.I will do anything, ere I be married to a sponge. 3.Hath a dog money? Is it possible A cur can lend three thousand ducats? 4.I am like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. The Merchant of Venice – Act I Quotes Main Menu Main MenuQuotes Click the hand  for an answer.

13 1.In Belmont is a lady richly left;...Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages. 1.In Belmont is a lady richly left;...Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages. Click anywhere to show answer. Bassanio is explaining to Antonio that he loves Portia, a lady of considerable wealth who lives in Belmont. He believes that she also communicated her affection for him by the way she looked at him. Main Menu Main MenuQuotes

14 Antonio Bassanio Portia Shylock Characters – The Merchant of Venice Main Menu Main Menu Jessica Gratiano Launcelot Gobbo Minor Characters

15 As the play’s antagonist, Shylock can be interpreted a number of different ways: A greedy and bloodthirsty moneylender A clownish Jewish stereotype A tragic figure who is persecuted by a backwards society Shylock is despised as a moneylender, or usurer, but this was the only occupation a Jew could have in medieval Venetian society. Shylock - 1 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Next Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Shylock Charles Buchel (1895–1935)

16 In his most famous speech (III, 1), Shylock argues that Jews have all the same human qualities as Christians: I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? …and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? (III, 1) Shylock hates Antonio for cutting into his business—Antonio lends money at no interest, depriving Shylock of profit. Shylock – 2 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Next Back 1911 Movie Poster

17 Shylock – 3 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Next Back Shylock is accustomed to being bullied and ridiculed by Christians: Signior Antonio, many a time and oft In the Rialto you have rated me About my moneys and my usances: Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. (I, 3) Shylock says he has learned how to be vengeful from the Christians who have been vengeful to him. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. (III, 1)

18 Because Shylock is both reviled as a moneylender and pitied as a persecuted Jew, he is the most compelling and complex character in the play. While Elizabethan audiences probably viewed him as a comic character, most modern audiences are sympathetic to him because of the cruelty he has endured at the hands of Christians. His character alone adds tragic overtones to a play that would otherwise be classified as a comedy. Shylock – 4 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Next Back Charles Macklin as Shylock, Covent Garden, London, , by Johann Zoffany

19 Shylock - 5 Shylock after the Trial, John Gilbert, pre 1873 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Next Back

20 At the end of the play, Shylock is broken and humiliated. He is forced to convert to Christianity, give half of his possessions to Antonio and pay a fine. He loses everything that’s important to him: his daughter, his money and his religion. Is the sentence against Shylock fair? Does the outcome of the trial confirm the philosophy expressed by Portia in her famous speech--that true justice must be measured with mercy? Does Shylock receive mercy? Does the audience rejoice in Shylock’s defeat, or do we pity his downfall? Shylock – 6 Main Menu Main Menu Characters Back

21 Anti-Semitism Deceptive Appearances Loyalty and Friendship Love Mercy vs. Revenge Wealth Themes – The Merchant of Venice Main Menu Main Menu

22 Elizabethan society was anti-Semitic. Jews were expelled from England in 1250 and were not permitted to return until On stage, Jews were usually characterized as evil, deceptive and greedy. Jews were also forced to live in a ghetto protected by Christians, supposedly for their own safety. Jews were usually depicted on stage in bright red wigs and hooked noses. An example is Christopher Marlowe’s play, The Jew of Malta, which features a Jewish villain named Barabas. The Merchant of Venice was sometimes known as The Jew of Venice, suggesting that it was seen as similar to The Jew of Malta. Anti-Semitism - 1 Themes Main Menu Main Menu Next

23 One interpretation of the play is that Shakespeare intended to contrast the mercy of the Christian characters with the vengefulness of Shylock. The conflict between Portia and Shylock in the trial scene can also be seen as the conflict between the vengeful, exacting God of the Old Testament, whose priority is Justice (Shylock) and the merciful God of the New Testament (Portia). From a Christian point of view, Shylock’s conversion to Christianity at the end of the play is a “happy ending”—his soul is saved and he can now enter heaven. Anti-Semitism - 2 Themes Shylock and Portia Thomas Sully, 1835 Main Menu Main Menu Next Back

24 Modern audiences, however, often see the play as a plea for tolerance, with Shylock as the sympathetic character. This interpretation faults Portia as a “false judge” who has no right to sentence Shylock at all. Shylock’s anger does not come from some inherent “Jewishness,” but from years of abuse. Although Shylock is condemned for greed and dishonesty, the Christian characters can also be seen as hypocritical. Bassanio initially seeks Portia’s hand in marriage so he can pay his debts. Although Portia delivers a moving speech on the subject of mercy, her judgment against Shylock can be seen as cruel and barbaric. Is Shakespeare subtly criticizing his characters’ prejudices? Anti-Semitism - 3 Themes Main Menu Main Menu Next Back

25 Regardless of Shakespeare’s intentions, the play has been used by anti-Semites throughout its history. The Nazis used Shylock’s character for their own propaganda. Shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938, The Merchant of Venice was broadcast for propagandistic purposes over the German airwaves. Productions of the play followed in Lübeck (1938), Berlin (1940), and elsewhere within the Nazi Territory. Is a sympathetic reading of Shylock entirely due to changing attitudes among readers, or did Shakespeare intend this reading? Shylock’s language is not that of a comic, one-dimensional villain. Is it possible that Shakespeare’s talent as a writer caused him to create a more complex character than he originally intended? Anti-Semitism - 4 Themes Main Menu Main Menu Back

26 The Merchant of Venice on YouTube Main Menu Main Menu

27 The Merchant of Venice – Essay Topics Main Menu Main Menu


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