The Merchant of Venice

Free «The Merchant of Venice» Essay Sample


Several literature reviews draw that The Merchant of Venice is one of the most charming comedies of Shakespeare’s literature. The famous play addresses several aspects of romantic comedies. These are evidenced in Portia’s lottery marriage while the other one occurs when Antonio is saved from death and disaster. As required by the literary canon, despite the fact that the serious conflict may appear, it should all end well. The comedy can be seen as one of the perfect plays that have observed all the essential conventions of a comedy (Al-Dabbagh, Shakespeare, and Kaplan 574). In the play, the author also used the necessary iambic and prose parameters to deliver the necessary content. In most circumstances, confusion arises from several forms of disguise, but disaster is avoided. As observed by several literature analysts, the main thematic and structural elements of the play revolve mainly around the Romantic comedy and avoid tragedy and history.


Despite the fact that several people perceive the play, The Merchant of Venice, as a tragedy, they fail to acknowledge the element of humor that was incorporated into the play to make it funny. It should be realized that Shakespeare’s main target in the 1500s was the Englishmen (Holden 30). Therefore, the parts of the play that were humorous at that time may not be perceived as humorous at present. Nevertheless, the play must be acknowledged as a comedy for such instances as men playing women, who were acting to be men, and the sad conclusion for Shylock. Thus, The Merchant of Venice is more comedic in comparison with other Shakespeare’s plays.

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There usually exists a distinction between a tragedy and a comedy. As a rule, tragedies make people miserable, while comedies leave them laughing. In several of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the leading character usually dies at the conclusion of the story. An example is Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s well-known tragedies. In this play, both characters are dead at the finale. While in The Merchant of Venice, no one dies, including the leading character, but the rival, who is Shylock in this case, loses his religion, money, as well as property. Under no circumstances can a story with a happy ending be considered a tragedy play. Therefore, there is a clear indication and an obvious difference in the reasons why plays such as The Merchant of Venice are perceived as comedies while Romeo and Juliet are taken as tragedies (Dailey 510).

It is impossible for the audience to feel miserable at the conclusion of the play The Merchant of Venice, and this is the reason why it cannot be perceived as a tragedy. On the other hand, since several of the characters realized a happy ending, the wealth of comic relief characters and scenes, as well as the cheerfulness of the plot as compared to other Shakespearean plays, lead to a conclusion that the play is, without doubt, a comedy.

The book was written during those days when comedy stories were much popular in Elizabethan theater. In order to perfectly portray the element of comedy in the play, Shakespeare used clown like characters, marriages, witty, disappointments, and finally happy ending. Shakespeare developed the story into two basic interconnections. That is Bassanio’s courtship with wealthy heiress Portia of Belmont and the story of the Flesh Bond between Antonio and Shylock (Dailey 511). The romantic section is represented by a couple of three pairs: Portia and Bassanio, Jessica and Lorenzo, and finally Gratiano and Nerrissa. As expected in the Elizabethan comedies, all these characters have to portray the theme of love. In most circumstances, the heroines disguise themselves as men thus providing the opportunities for comic understanding of the play through their wit (Al-Dabbagh, Shakespeare, and Kaplan 574).

As observed through the interplay, it is audience-winning circumstances with humorous interaction. The play portrays the war between wealth, power, and ego. These include Lancelot and his father, the old Gobbo; Gratiano and his nonsensical speeches; and Portia and her description of the various suitors. Furthermore, Jessica describes her and finally elopes to marry a Christian. This incident of elopement makes Shylock, his father, to lament in an interesting manner as he describes his son in law. Finally, Shylock’s actions and speeches create quite remarkable situation at the end of the story. He literally describes the judge as the wise judge without the mind the tables will soon turn against him. All these incidences create a situational laughter for the audience, making the play one of the comical stories of its time (Holden 34).


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At the trial section, Shylock publicly admits that he hates Antonio. This hatred is long overdue, and it may have resulted from contempt that Antonio has ever showed him over the past years. The need for Shylock’s taking Antonio pound of flesh is portrayed as pure revenge of contempt. As observed in most of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, the heroines often take the role of savers of the situation. Portia intellectually confiscates herself and intervenes in order to save Antonio. Portia and Nerrissa pretend to be of different genders and do everything possible to rescue the situation. They pretended to be the lawyer and the clerk thus making the necessary judgment. They ensure that they make a fair judgment and convince Shylock not to take the pound of flesh. He is forced to change to Christianity and share half of his own wealth with his enemy. It is very interesting that it is later when Bassanio and his companion reveal from their wives that the women are the ones who disguised themselves and acted in the trial chamber (Dailey 513).

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Quite often, it is believed by many readers that Shylock’s forceful change by the law is an example of a horrible justice. He has lost the better part of his wealth and has been forced to convert to Christianity. However, many of these critics often fail to believe that Shylock is antagonistic in the story, interpreting the failure at the end as good news. In both ancient and current societies, Shylock’s loss has meant a great change to the social economic progress in every setting. Furthermore, in Shakespearean literature, it means providing the peak of change to the most antagonist play. Antonio, on the other hand, avoids consequences and receives a gift. He further receives good news that some of his ships have safely docked. This chapter revives his life and most of the characters are left happy with their gains. Antonio offsets, and the newly wedded families are also provided with a chance to enjoy their lives as Shylock is left on the condition that he joins the Christian faith (Al-Dabbagh, Shakespeare, and Kaplan 574).

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In conclusion, it is important for analysts to understand some of the vital distinctions between a comedy and a tragedy. Comedies make its audience laugh while tragedies leave people in a sober mood. As observed in most of the Shakespearean tragedies, like Romeo and Juliet, the main protagonist often dies. However, in The Merchant of Venice, there are several comical situations, and nobody dies. The play has proved to be one of the comic stories of Shakespeare according to numerous popular polls.

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