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The Comedy of the Merchant of Venice an in-Depth Analysis on Shakespeare's Shylock

  • Date Submitted: 12/07/2010 06:04 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.6 
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Through a comparison of comedy and tragedy, Othello and Twelfth Night, it can be seen that the audience’s view of the protagonist greatly influences the direction of the play. Shakespeare is able to manipulate ideas surrounding ideals during the renaissance in order to develop specific outcomes and messages throughout the plays. The context in which the play was written played upon develops a sense of identity amongst characters and the manipulation of these sends specific messages. The intent of The Merchant of Venice is complicated by modern views surrounding Judaism following the dreadful holocaust that resulted from harsh anti-Semitic ideals. While anti-Semitism still exists, it is no longer mainstream thought nor is it defended by any means through this essay. However, one must take into account thoughts and ideas surrounding religious tolerance, or lack there of, at the time of the play’s origin. Twelfth Night and Othello illustrate how Shakespeare utilized the context of the play in combination with development of protagonist and main structural elements in order to develop both tragedy and comedy. Taking its context into account and through following examples from the two plays, The Merchant of Venice can be determined as a comedy in which Shylock, the money lender, would have been viewed by Elizabethan audiences as an upset in character who received due punishment based on his flawed morals and negative actions upon others.
The context of The Merchant of Venice provides the basis for the setting of the play to be a factor in determining the play as comedy rather than tragedy. To many, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice can be sympathized with and defended. However, modern readers must be careful to distance themselves from the automatic sympathy that comes with knowledge of the holocaust when reading the play in order to fully understand and analyze the play’s original intent.   When comparing Shylock’s character to the characters of Othello and Malvolio,...

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