The Conflict Within Venetian Society in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice


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The Conflict Within Venetian Society in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice written by Shakespeare during the late
sixteenth century. The play is based on different conflicts:
Christians and Jews, father and Daughter and patriarchal system.

The main plot of the play is the flesh bond between Shylock and
Antonio. The sub plots are the three caskets, the ring plot and
Jessica and Lorenzo.

Antonio is a merchant of Venice, who takes money from Shylock the Jew,
for his friend Bassanio. Bassanio needed the money to go to Belmont to
get married to wealthy Portia to become wealthy. Antonio fails to pay
back the money to Shylock. Antonio is bought to court to pay the bond
to Shylock.

Shylock ignores the many pleas to spear Antonio's life and calls for
trial to decide it. The Duke of Venice shows sympathy to Shylock, he
announces that he has sent for a lawyer, it turns out to be Portia
dressed as a man.

Portia asks Shylock to show mercy to Antonio but Shylock disagrees to
it because it belongs to him in law. Bassanio offers Shylock twice the
amount of money but he insists on collecting the bond. Portia then
examines the contract and declares it legal that Shylock is entitled
to the bond. Shylock ecstatically praises her wisdom, but as he is on
the verge of collecting his due, Portia reminds him that he must do so
without causing Antonio to bleed, as the contract does not entitle him
to any blood. Trapped by this logic, Shylock hastily agrees to take
Bassanio's money instead, but Portia insists that Shylock take his
bond as written, or nothing at all. Portia informs Shylock that he is
guilty of conspiring against the life of a Venetian citizen, which
means he must turn over half of his property to the state and the
other half to Antonio. The duke spares Shylock's life and takes a fine
instead of Shylock's property. Antonio also forgoes his half of
Shylock's wealth on two conditions: first, Shylock must convert to

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Christianity, and second, he must will the entirety of his estate to
Lorenzo and Jessica upon his death. Shylock agrees and takes asks for
leave, is that he is not feeling well and also asks the Duke to send
the deed to his house, where he will sign it.

In merchant of Venice father- daughter relationship plays an essential
role in the central plot of the play. There are two separate
father-daughter relationship. The awkward relation between Shylock and
his daughter Jessica, and the non-existent relationship between Portia
and her late father. The strict rules by the two powerful patriarchs,
which brings Portia and Jessica together as sympathetic characters.
However later in the play it becomes clear that the two women are
quite different from each other.

The love makes Jessica run away from home which harms Shylock, but
Portia chooses to respect her late fathers will, by letting the
situation work out itself out correctly.

When Jessica elopes with her Christian lover Lorenzo, stealing her
father's gold and jewels. This upsets her father Shylock, which makes
him angry and screaming "My daughter" "O my ducats" "O my daughter"
"Fled with a Christian" "O my Christian ducats" "Justice" this shows
that he is more concerned daughter running away with a Christian, than
his daughter going away and also he is worried about his ducats and
the jewels. Jessica hates her father and feels sorry for him, for
example: "I have a father, you a daughter lost". Jessica hated Shylock
so much that she left him, converting religion.

Portia a wealthy inheritor left in charge of Belmont by her late
father, the former king. Before his death, he added a condition to his
will, stating that his daughter could only be married to a suitor who
will select the right casket from three. The caskets have different
descriptions this shows her father cared about her by making the
descriptions. Portia doesn't like will because she can't choose the
person she wants to marry. Later in the play it shows that her fathers
was looking out for her when he wrote the will, is that she married
the right person, who is Bassanio. Portia likes Bassanio and he also
likes her.

Portia sticking to her fathers will is happy at end but on the other
hand Jessica going on her way also turns out to be good. This proves
Jessica and Portia are total different from each other because Jessica
has hurt her father from running away and Portia's father would had
been happy if he was alive.

16th century the men's had all the power and the women's weren't given
any rights, this is called the patriarchal system. Women's weren't
allowed to study, go out of the house and had no place in the society.
Women's didn't fight to get their rights to live or study too. Portia
wanted to take revenge for women, so she dresses man, a young learned
doctor of law. She goes to the court to help Shylock get his bond. She
gives Shylock the hope to make Antonio pay the bond, she enjoys being
the law and takes the advantage from it. Later on she starts to play
games with Shylock and save Antonio's life from not paying the bond to
Shylock. This shows that the women's should be allowed to learn and
work like men. Also that the women's are as clever as men.

In 16th century, the Christians had all the power in Venice. They had
all the businesses, also the law and they had the entire city in their
hands. Christians hated Jews and Jews hated Christians because of
different in their religions and business. The Jews were known for
only one business, which was the money lending and charging interest
on it. Antonio, a Christian hated Shylock because he was Jew and
lending money and charging interest on top of it. Antonio tortured
Shylock physically and mentally. Antonio used to spit on his Jewish
clothes, call him misbeliever and cut throat dog, for example:

"You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog"

"And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine"

The language used in the play is abusive, for example:

"And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur"

"Cut-throat dog"

There are many more examples likes theses.

Christians and Jews hated each other because of different in
religions. They also didn't talk to each other, eat together or even
have a drink.

I think Shylock is the hero of the play because he had a legal bond
against Antonio, which had their signature and was legal too. Shylock
didn't do anything against the law so therefor he shouldn't had been
treated the way Antonio treated him. He had a right to take revenge
against Antonio because he used to call him misbeliever and cut-throat
dog. Antonio is the villain because of his behaviour toward Shylock
and making change his religion.


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