Merchant of Venice – Helton English

Merchant of Venice written between 1594-1596; romantic comedy; Controversy- promotes neg. stereotypes; Motivation- Shakespeare allows you to create the setting, time, etc.; Major Themes- appearance vs. reality; Merchant- Antonio
Act 1: Scene 1 Antonio doesn’t know why he is sad; S-boys suggest it is the safety of his ships; Antonio smart- diversified investments; love over money (Antonio’s loan to Bassanio); Bassanio must ask for money- underestimates Antonio’s loyalty; Portia- gave Bassanio “the look” Bassanio will pursue her with Antonio’s money
Act 1: Scene 2 Portia- “my life sucks” (Irony)- angry she can’t pick her husband; Nerissa defends Portia’s father’s will- Portia claims that’s easier said than done; (P) “that’s not who I am; suitors leave- don’t like the contest rules; (P) doesn’t want to marry a black man (Prince of Morocco)
Act 1: Scene 3 (A) needs a loan to pay (B)- goes to Shylock- banker; (S) refused to engage socially w/(A) & (B)- business only; taking a loan for a loan; (S) uses the Bible to defend job (story of Jacob); “Devil can cite scripture”- appearance vs. reality; bond if not paid- pound of flesh; agreed bond
Act 2: Scene 1 P. of Morocco defends himself against Portia’s prejudice; “don’t hate because I’m black”; proposes cutting his hand for proof; P of Morocco- will stand up to any fight- brave; “warrior, gladiator, fearless”
Act 2: Scene 2 Lancelot Gobbo Dilemma- having thoughts about quitting- works for (S); angel + devil talking to him on shoulder (like cartoon); claims (S) is worse than the devil; wants to work for (B); Lancelot Gobbo joke on his blind father- says son is dead; (B) gives Lancelot permission to be his servant; Gratiano- wants to go to Belmont w/ (B)- supposed to dial it down in Belmont
Act 2: Scene 3 Lancelot & Jessica- (J) confirms Shylock is hell; gives a secret message to Lancelot for Lorenzo; (J) betrays father by becoming a Christian
Act 2: Scene 4 Lancelot delivers (J)’s letter- (J) plans to dress as a boy and flee Shylock; will take his money with her;
Act 2: Scene 5 Shylock leaves Jessica to watch/protect house- IRONIC- she plans to loot the house; doesn’t want christians corrupting him
Act 2: Scene 6 Lorenzo is late; excuse- other affairs (is anticipation better than the event?); (J)- “I’m ugly”- fishing for compliments; PARTY CANCELLED; (B) is already on the boat to Belmont; Lorenzo and Jessica not going
Act 2: Scene 7 three caskets- gold(desire), silver(deserve), lead(give & risk); P. of Morocco- eliminates lead- worthless; makes objective evaluation of himself- he is deserving; loves god- believes (P) deserves to be in gold; CHOOSES WRONG- “all that glisters is not gold”- appearance vs. reality
Act 2: Scene 8 S-boys enjoying (S)’s misery; rumors- (J) ran away w/(L); (A)’s ship wrecked- (S)- daughter vs. money
Act 2: Scene 9 Prince of Arragon choosing; rules of portia’s contest- can’t tell choice, never marry, must leave immediately; immediately rejects lead; rejects gold- “foolish people judge from the outside”; chooses silver- believes he is deserving; opens casket and sees a fool (picture or mirror); ARROGANT
Act 3: Scene 1 rumor confirmed: (A)’s ships wrecked; (S)- will “fish with (A)’s flesh”; S-boys taunt (S)- refuses to be dehumanized- claims he wants revenge: argument- you would do the same; (S)- no difference between Christians and Jews(saves play); bad news- Jessica spending $$ and sold (S)’s ring(priceless); (S)- “would rather have money than daughter”- speaking out of grief;
Act 3: Scene 2 Bassanio choosing casket; (P) wants (B) to take his time- doesn’t want to lose (B); (P) knows answer to casket- music played rhymes with lead; confessing- stalling (Philabuster); (B) rejects gold & silver- don’t be fooled by outside (Appearance vs. Reality); (B) description of picture- “taken by beauty” (IRONIC); (P) overwhelmed he chose correct- gives away all her wealth to (B); claims she is “not good enough”; (G) and (N)- admit love (double marriage); BAD NEWS FOLLOWS GOOD NEWS- letter from (A)- he has lost money, (S) wins, wants (B) to come say goodbye; (P) reads (B)’s pale face- knows somethings wrong
Act 3: Scene 3 (S)- “guard (A)” & “beware of his fangs”; (S) is not backing down from deal; (A)- sucking up?- “good shylock”; argues own death- supports it- for the greater good
Act 3: Scene 4 the “Double Reverse Flea Flicker”; (L) addresses argument before it comes up- preemptive- (P) should not have “buyer’s remorse- not liking something after buying it; (P) leaves (L) to watch house while she is gone; (P) plan- go to venice disguised as a man- “a man’s man”- makes fun of men’s actions (brawler, lady’s man, etc.)
Act 3: Scene 5 USUALLY CUT FROM PLAY; Lancelot believes (J) is going to hell because her father is Jewish- hopes she is of a different father; (L) takes shots at Lancelot; (L) and (J) admire (P);
Act 4: Scene 1 “The Argument”; prior to trial- Duke tries to convince (S) to back down; Duke- biased towards Antonio- personal(sorry for Antonio); Duke claims (S) is bluffing(is a suggestion/peer pressure); (S) not backing down- it’s his dream, it’s his right, it’s the law; won’t accept money- wants payback; (A) stops arguing- at peace?- mission impossible- can’t change (S)’s mind; “Let me be.”-so (B) can write his epitaph (REFERENCE TO ANTONIO’S OLD AGE); (S)- “wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice”- not getting burned by(A) twice; (S) defends not releasing (A) with saying (A) wouldn’t release his slaves- FALLACY(2 bads don’t make it right); (S) counterargument not effective; (G) transformed- goes off on (S)- “soul of an animal”; soul vs. sole- (S) sharpening knife on sole of shoe; Letter of Introduction- (P) arrives disguised as Dr. Balthazar(takes name of servant)- wants them to not judge her by her(his) youthful looks (she is smart); (P)’s argument for mercy #1- like gift giving, should be given freely, more powerful than any ruler, the way we can be like God, doomed w/o mercy- we can achieve salvation w/o it, we pray for it everyday; (P) argument for mercy #2- take money; (P) argument for mercy #3- stop because he will need to hire a doctor to stop blood; (S) brings out fine print- “nearest to the heart”; Antonio grateful for death- would rather die than live in poverty; DRAMATIC IRONY- (B) & (G)- would rather have (A) than wives- they don’t know both wives are present;(P) brings out the fine print- “Jot of blood”- the bond doesn’t mention blood- letter of the law(exact) vs. spirit of the law (perception); trail is reversal (ex. Seahawks vs. Patriots Super Bowl); gets worse- (S) threatening citizen- life in the hands of Duke; money is taken, goes to (A); (G)- “since you have no money you will have to barrow the rope”; (A)- convert to Christianity, work for Lorenzo; (S) repeats (A)- “death better than no money”; result of trial- (S) broken
Act 5: Scene 1
Antonio (A) the merchant; smart- has diversified investments; likes expensive things;
Bassanio (B) stern personality; gold digger?;
Gratiano (G) loves to party; fun living;
Lorenzo (L) marries Jessica;
S-boys Solanin, Salarino, Salerio- NOT IMPORTANT
Portia (P) the “it” girl- gave “the look” to Bassanio; “my life sucks”- IRONY; angry she can’t pick her husband; won’t marry a black man; persuaded by Nerissa to agree w/father’s will
Nerissa (N) Portia’s mate; tells Portia to stick to her father’s will; marries Gratiano
Jessica (J) Shylock’s daughter; betrays Shylock by becoming a Christian; relationship w/Lorenzo
Shylock (S) banker; Jewish- receives discrimination from everyone; refuses to engage socially with Antonio or Bassanio(business only); hates Antonio; business has been sabotaged by Antonio;
Lancelot Gobbo clown of story; dilemma- having thoughts of quitting- works for Shylock; uses malapropisms- using the wrong word
Prince of Morocco P. of Morocco defends himself against Portia’s prejudice; “don’t hate because I’m black”; proposes cutting his hand for proof; P of Morocco- will stand up to any fight- brave; “warrior, gladiator, fearless”; chooses the gold casket
Prince of Arragon immediately rejects lead; rejects gold- “foolish people judge from the outside”; chooses silver- believes he is deserving; ARROGANT
Gold Casket get what you desire; picked by P. of Morocco
Silver Casket get what you deserve; picked by Prince of Arragon
Lead Casket give and risk all; picked by Bassanio
Appearance vs. Reality “Devil can cite scripture” (shylock); “all that glisters is not gold”- (prince of morocco); Bassanio rejects gold & silver- don’t be fooled by outside;
Rules of Portia’s Contest 1) can’t tell choice2) can never marry3) must leave immediately
Important points appearance vs. reality; is anticipation better than the actual event?; Shylock’s “Christians vs. Jews Argument” saves play;

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