Merchant of Venice Content Quiz

When was William Shakespeare around? 1564-1616
When did Shakespeare write the Merchant of Venice? 1598
What does the Renaissance mean and what are some details about it? “rebirth”; rebirth of classical ideas (Greek/Roman); lasted from about 1300s-1600s and started in Italy (eventually spread to rest of Europe); literature, art, philosophy, sicneces, politics; humanism adn self-determination through reason/logicn; rise of the middle class (age of exploration); merchants (trade), money lenders, artisans/craftspeople, small businesses, apothecaries, teachers, lawyers, doctors; social mobility ($$$); money and morality linked
What is humanism? the belief that humans have individual worth/value and vast potential (self-determination)
What was Jews living in the Renaissance like? ghettos/curfew; wear badges on clothing (distinguish yourself as a Jew); legal restrictions (not allowed to own property); can’t make anything new (or sell), can’t be an artisan; one of the only options is to be a money lender (conflicts over interest=usury); blood lie (libel)
What are themes to consider in Merchant of Venice? appearance vs. reality; pervasiveness of money and its role in life; villain vs. victim (Shylock especially); does the character of Shylock conform to Renaissance stereotypes, or not?; Venice vs. Belmont (values); revenge (justification); emotion/passion vs. reason; women’s roles; frienship
What are the characteristics of Venice? middle class (make $ with jobs), Antonio (merchants), Shylock and Jessica, Lancelot, Lorenzo, bustling city, cosmopolitan, unruly, Jews, real/genuine, self-determination/social mobility, $ rules life, dangerous (high stakes), “trash talking”: crude/insulting language, mix of languages
What are the characteristics of Belmont? aristocrats (inherited $), Portia, Nervosa, Suitors, calm/peaceful, exclusive, disciplined, no Jews, euphoric (fantasy), rigid class structure, not worried about lack of $ (but still plays a large role), fairytale (ideal, unattainable), proper, finding common language (educated)
Compare and Contrast the settings of Venice and Belmont. (Consider things like what takes place there, what types/classes of people congregate there, the type of language and behavior that characterizes each, etc.) What do you think is Shakespeare’s purpose in juxtaposing these two locations? Compare and Contrast: see characteristics of Belmont and VeniceJuxtaposition Justification: show the unattainabilty of the two worlds and what happens when you cross over; provide tranquility and a break from bustling Venice setting with Belmont
Refer to Shylock’s speech on p. 49 (III. i. 49-67). What are the arguments he is using to justify himself and persuade his hearers/the audience that he is in the right? Is he employing pathos, ethos, logos, or a combination? How does this speech illustrate aspects of humanism? Uses logos when he explains his reason for flesh: revenge. Uses pathos when rhetorically interrogating the audience about the true difference between Christians and Jews (Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions) Uses it again to describe a Jews’ reaction (If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die);;;;; humanism is utilized througout the speech to show that each human has worth, no matter what the race (also demonstrates the opposite) also the fact that he is giving the speech demonstrates humanism
Who is Antonio? The title character, Antonio is a wealthy but sad older merchant who claims never to have borrowed money but is willing to lend to friends, especially Bassanio, without benefit of interest.
Who are Salerio and Solanio? Friends of Antonio and Bassanio, minor characters almost indistinguishable from each other who comment on the action and who inform the audience about the action that has occurred offstage.
Who is Bassanio? A young man with expensive tastes and rich friends who borrows money from Antonio in order to court the rich, intelligent, and beautiful Portia.
Who is Gratiano? Bassanio’s friend with a bawdy and clownish demeanor. Accompanies Bassanio to Belmont to court Portia and falls in love with Portia’s servant Nerissa.
Who is Lorenzo? Bassanio’s friend who falls in love with Shylock’s daughter Jessica.
Who is Portia? Widely pursued noblewoman who is as intelligent as she is rich and beautiful. Her father’s will demands that her husband be selected through a test involving three caskets: one of gold, one of silver, and one of lead. Portia’s mind allows her to find loopholes in legal matters, thus rescuing her new husband’s friend from his bond.
Who is Nerissa? Portia’s handmaid who falls in love with Gratiano, Bassanio’s friend.
Who is Shylock? The Jewish merchant of Venice who lends Antonio the money on his friend Bassanio’s behalf. Clever and quick, Shylock is all at once a dark humorist, a moral absolutist, a religious bigot, an ogre, and, surprisingly, a sentimentalist. He serves as both the villain and the most tragic figure of the play.
Who is the Prince of Morocco? Portia’s suitor and the only Black character in all of Shakespeare outside of Othello. Like Othello, he embodies many of the stereotypical Elizabethan perceptions of Moors: violent and sexual. He wrongly chooses the silver casket.
Who is Lancelot Gobbo? Shylock’s comic servant who leaves Shylock’s service to serve Bassanio.
Who is Old Gobbo? Launcelot’s blind father who has not encountered his son in years.
Who is Jessica? Shylock’s daughter, who escapes from her father’s house in order to marry Lorenzo. She converts to Christianity in order to further assimilate into the Christian society of Venice.
Who is the Prince of Arragon? One of Portia’s suitors who greedily chooses the golden casket.
Who is Tubal? Shylock’s friend, the only other Jew in the play, who functions as a newsbearer of Jessica’s escape and of her consequent behavior.
Who are Balthazar and Stephano? servants to Portia.
Who is the Duke of Venice? The reigning official of Venice who presides over the court where Shylock intends to collect on his bond.