Themes of The Merchant of Venice

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  • Created by: cbirch66
  • Created on: 17-08-16 11:17
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  • Themes
    • friendship
      • Antonio is a true friend to Bassanio and is prepared to give his life for him. Bassanio says "To you, Antonio, I owe the most, in money and in love" showing their great freindship.
      • We can see that there is a bond of friendship between Bassanio and Gratanio because Bassanio is willing to take him to Belmont against his better judgement. Bassanio says about Gratanio "Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice" but still takes him.
      • Gratanio and Bassanio assist Lorenzo to elope with Jessica showing the friendship between these men.
        • Lorenzo is shown to be trusted as a friend of Bassanio as  Portia is willing to entrust the care of her estate to him whilst she is away.
    • Love
      • Marriage
        • Portia marries Bassanio, but at first he just courts her for her money
        • Nerissa marries Gratanio.
        • Lorenzo marries Jessica, despite their different backgrounds (Lorenzo being a Christian and Jessica being a Jew).
      • Belmont symbolises love.
    • Mercy and Justice
      • In the courtroom, Portia gives a speech about mercy in order to persuade Shylock to show mercy to Antonio.
        • She said : "The quality of mercy is not strained:It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:It blessed him that gives, and him that takes."
          • However, Portia is less generous than her words when she says "He shall have merely Justice and his bond". she refuses to let Shylock back out of the deal, and shows no mercy.
            • Having begged Shylock to show mercy to Antonio, she shows none herself
      • Shylock shows no mercy to Antonio, but demands a pound of his flesh to satisfy his revenge.
        • Even when offered money, he stil shows no mercy.
      • The duke shows mercy at the end of the trial by allowing Shylock his life. However, the Duke seems to be biased towards Antonio as he sympathises with him and calls Shylock an "inhumane wretch"
      • A small amount of mercy is shown to Shylock by Antonio at the end of the trial as he allows him to keep half of his wealth
        • However Antonio also makes Shylock become a Christian and bequeath his fortune to Lorenzo and Jessica, showing that he is less merciful
    • Hate / racial prejudice
      • Most of the hate is to do with race, as we are shown how Christians and Jews hate one another.
        • Shylock hates Christians because of their mistreatment of him
          • He says you (Antonio) "call me a misbeliever" and  "spit upon my Jewish Gaberdine"
            • Here Antonio shows no remorse or regret for any wrong things he has done in the past to Shylock,  but says: "I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too."
          • He also hates them because they lend money without charging interest taking bussiness from the jews who lend it charging interest.
          • It is because of this hatred that Shylock will show no mercy to Antonio, but demands a pound of his flesh
        • Antonio hates Jews because he is strongly anti-Jewish
      • Venice symbolises hate
    • Loss
      • At the beggning antonio supposedly loses his ships
        • Antonio is worried because if he loses his ships, he will lose a lot of money and therefore his life as he will not be able to pay Shylock the moeny back on time.
          • However Antonio does not lose his life, but is set free from the contract made with shylock, and also at in the end Anotonio also finds that he did not lose his ships, but they returned home bringing him lots of money
      • Shylock loses a number of things in the play:
      • Portia's two suitors, (prince of Morroco + prince of Aragon lose any chance of love as they failed to pick the casket leading to marriage to portia.

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