Writing an Essay on Merchant of Venice

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shakespeare’s plays are delightful to read and extremely interesting to interpret. For English literature students, it is one of the most important parts of their literature education. But ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is one story which is taught at the very early stages of education. Writing an essay on The Merchant of Venice will be easy once you understand the story well enough.

The main characters you have to worry about while writing the essay on The Merchant of Venice are:

• Antonio – a respectable Venetian gentleman
• Bassanio – Antonio’s closest friend
• Portia – Bassanio’s lover who gets married to him within the story
• Shylock – An evil Jew who is a money-lender

The play begins with Antonio brooding over how to help Antonio raise the funds necessary for his marriage to his lover Portia, who is a wealthy heiress. Antonio has no money to spare at the moment as his ships carrying his business profits are not yet back. Finally he asks Bassanio to take a loan using his good will as guarantee.

Shylock is an evil and ill-natured man and hates Antonio for his virtues and popularity. He has an old grudge towards Antonio. When Bassanio approaches him asking for the loan, he agrees after making them sign a bond saying he can cut off a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body, if he fails to pay the debt back within three months. Antonio agrees as his ships are due long before three months.

Bassanio wins Portia’s hand in marriage but soon learns that Antonio’s ships have gone missing which has left him unable to pay Shylock’s debt. He also learns that Shylock was about to cut off a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body, according to the bond. He leaves everything behind and rushes to Antonio’s aid. He offers Shylock thrice the sum due to him in return for the cancellation of the bond.

But Shylock, whose intention is only to get rid of Antonio refuses any kind of compensations. Portia who had followed Bassanio, presents herself in the court as a lawyer and states that Shylock should be permitted to take a pound of flesh from Antonio as per bond as long as he doesn’t spill even a drop of blood as the bond doesn’t refer to that.

Realizing the trap he is in, Shylock changes his mind to take the offered sum of thrice the amount but Portia argues that nothing is due to him but a pound of flesh and the punishment for trying to murder a gentleman. Shylock’s assets get divided between the state and Antonio and he is made to convert into a Christian.

The aspects of the essay you write changes with the level of your education. But knowing the story is important for any level of essay writing. You should also understand the characters and the role they have played in the story to be able to write a very interesting essay on the topic. Once you have figured out so much, writing an essay on The Merchant of Venice should be a very enjoyable writing assignment.

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