The Merchant of Venice Paper

The Merchant of Venice Paper
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous and great figures at the field of the history of English literature. He likes to describe humans’ feelings – love, hate, jealousy, passion; also he likes to tell about relationships between people – between friends, lovers, between husband and wife, between parents and their children, between enemies; he uses different situations from the ordinary life as plots for his plays.

In the project I want to discuss briefly, the play of William Shakespeare named “The Merchant of Venice”. I will overview the main characters of the play, context and meaning of those characters; but the main aim of this project is the comparison of two characters form the play. There are 18 characters are taking part at the play. Let us briefly look through them.

Portia is a rich beautiful girl from Belmont, who will come in a big fortune in some time. She is intelligent as well but her choice of husband is not depend on her wish but on the wish of her father. She is dreaming to marry her true love. This lady is the cleverest character among other play’s characters. She is chitty but it helps her to save friends from troubles.

Shylock is the worst character among others who is introduced here. He is inhuman and cruel Jewish; he is focused on money and his own benefits. He is also chitty but he does not save people by this his peculiarity. He uses chit to make his own life better and to make himself wealthier even if it will cost other human’s life. He does not care of people and he does not know what true feelings like love and friendship mean.

Antonio is the main character. The play is named after him. He is the merchant of the Venice. His love to his friend makes him to sign the contract with Shylock. Because of the contract he is about to lose his life. He does not like Jews but he loves his friends and they also value his friendship. He is merciful even to Shylock who is his enemy and wants to kill him.

Bassanio – the close friend of Antonio, a gentleman of Venice. He is in love rich Portia. This love makes him borrow money from Shylock. Antonio is becoming his guarantor. Bassanio shows himself as a loving suitor when he makes a right choice - he is choosing the correct casket with the portrait of his love Portia.
Gratiano is another friend of Bassanio; he accompanies Bassanio to Belmont. He is the biggest critic of Shylock, insulting and loud. He is falling in love with Nerissa, Portia’s lady-in-waiting.

Jessica is the daughter of Shylock. Nevertheless, she hates the life in the house of her father. Finally, she decides to escape form Shylock with her beloved Christian Lorenzo. The woman is always in doubt; she tries to understand if it is good or bad to marry Lorenzo while he is a Christian and she is a Jew. In addition, the girl decides to sell the ring of her mother that she gave to her father Shylock.

Lorenzo as we already know is the beloved man of Jessica. He is the friend of Antonio and Bassanio as well. He is also in love with the Jew girl, Shylock’s daughter. It was his idea to escape with her and he is the one who planes the scheme of the elope.

Nerissa is the beloved lady of Gratiano and Portia’s servant as well. She marries her love Gratiano and she is the one who follows Portia, her lady, to Venice where they are pretending to be a law clerks.

These are the most important characters of the play.

I want to discuss here the main difference between Shylock and other Christian character of the play. We can call this theme “self-interest versus love”. All Christian character is showing that the main value in their lives is love – love to beloved woman, love to the close friend, and love to the good master… Shylock also shows but it is different type of love. He shows us the love to money and wealthy. This love is all absorbing, it makes even his daughter to escape from him and try to look for happiness with a Christian man. The closest person does not feel comfortable with Shylock. When Shylock’s daughter disappeared, Jew says: “O, my ducats!” And just after thinking about money he starts thinking about his relative: “O, my daughter!”

Shylock is almost the only one Jew character in the play instead of his friend but he is not the only wealthy character. Other rich people here are Portia and Antonio. So we can see that being rich doesn’t mean being selfish and focused on money only. For example, Portia is wealthy and she depends on money on the face of it. But she does not want money to rule her life. She understands that wealthy life without love and friendship does not mean happiness. She finds a way to help her friend and to find her love.

All other characters – Nerissa, Lorenzo, Bassanio – they are thinking about people. They are looking for the way to help. At the same time Shylock losing his daughter and he started thinking not about what he was doing wrong and what makes Jessica run away from him with her beloved man. He blames Jessica and decides to wreak his anger on Antonio.

As a result he stays with nothing and Christian characters are happy and continue their lives with friends and beloved people together. Shylock stays with nothing. Shakespeare shows us in the simple way the known truth – money is not the synonym of happiness.

One more theme we can see at the play – the divine quality of mercy. Portia, Nerissa, Antonio and other main characters of the play have this quality. Mercy makes them help each other. Moreover mercy makes them just leave Shylock alone after Antonio is saved. Shylock has no this good quality. He knows that Antonio’s death will not give him any benefits. He is disappointed with what his daughter does to him and wants to do something bad to satisfy himself. He is doing this for no reasons and keeps being horny even after he is suggested to collect much more money than he gave Antonio. But Christian friends of Antonio find the way to chit him and save him.

The moral of this play is simple – we need to be loving and merciful and we are going to become happy. I like the play very much and in my opinion Shakespeare chooses the bright contrast of characters to show it to people.

Works cited:

Halio, Jay. Understanding the Merchant of Venice: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Greenwood Press, 2000.
Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. William James Rolfe, 1898.

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