Thursday, May 21, 2009

Merchant of Venice - Rough Draft on Question #3

How is Shylock used as a scapegoat for the plot of this play? That is, how does Shylock allow for the comic end of this play?

            The play is centered around contracts, deals, bonds, agreements, legal matters. The problem here is that nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions. The solution is absolution through the law, selfishness prevails, being acquitted. The problem with the law is that it is not real justice—it is corruptible by man. The winner is he who has the quickest wit to see and make loopholes, a woman???

            Portia doesn’t want to reject her suitors, because she wants to remain polite, and so the test works out in her favor—She gets lucky and doesn’t have to reject anybody. Once her limits are gone, however, she gets to show how she is smarter than men! Without her father’s rules, she proves to be more capable of saving Antonio and out-witting Shylock.

            The test of a true Christian: virtue to be humble, to give all –“to hazard all he hath” (LEAD)—rather than pride, arrogance (SILVER), self-doubt, and giving in to desire (GOLD).

            Antonio and Bassanio don’t want to repay, or never planned on repaying Shylock. They end up getting off on a technicality. Bassanio takes advantage of Antonio’s love for him, and uses him to gain “fortune” to woo Portia in style.

            Shylock who is determined to hell that he will make them pay, that he will FINALLY get people to take responsibility for their actions backfires in his exploitation. He is guilty of trying to usurp God’s power, rather than to be a true Jew and to show faith in his endurance of grievances.

            Shylock is likened to THE DEVIL in this play

Shylock, who has made a seemingly concrete deal, is defeated by a loophole, a technicality. Read the fine print, basically.

Shylock who represents trying to exploit the law for revenge, or justice, taking advantage of the legal system of men to usurp God’s privilege of vengeance, is punished.

Shylock is the Debbie Downer. He is defeated by a technicality.


“If you repay me not on such a day,

In such a place, such sum or sums as are

Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit

Be nominated for an equal pound

Of your fair flesh to be cut off and taken

In what part of your body pleaseth me”

He was too caught up in vengeance, and his adherence to law (which is on his side) that his downfall was on a legal technicality. A loophole was the deux ex machina that allowed for such a villainous character to fall.

A woman has outsmarted the villain—a man. But only by claiming to be a Man.

A woman has command over the law, over he who had claimed authority and revenge over man. By attempting to usurp God’s privilege of vengeance, a woman has usurped man’s command over law and reason.

Christian’s blame Jews for the death of Jesus. Anti-Semitism is condoned, Shylock is a complete villain, save for pieces of humanity—3.1.49-55 “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions . . . ? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”/ his ring for his wife—but is too enamored by revenge. It’s NOT greed!

Antonio is a symbol of all who have done Shylock wrong, as he is an Anti-Semite, he wants revenge on everybody. If Shylock succeeds, it sends a clear message to Christians.

A scapegoat – got off on a technicality, just like Portia’s suitors—she trusted in the rules, and all men who chose wrong, followed the rules:


“Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny

Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.

But if my father had not scanted me,

And hedged me by his wit to yield myself

His wife who wins me by that means I told you,

Yourself, renowned Prince, then stood as fair

As any comer I have looked on yet

For my affection.”



“Portia adieu. I have too grieved a heart

To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.”

No comments:

Post a Comment