1.The Merchant of Venice as a Tragicomedy. 2. The justification of Shylock's actions in 'The Merchant of Venice'. 3.The contrast between Belmont and Venice in 'The Merchant of Venice'

Essay by catharsis March 2003

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** Consider the play as a tragicomedy

Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' is a comedy with a difference. It was written almost certainly between 1596 & 1598. The play is classed as one of the 16 comedy plays but it is also a 'problem' play due to the tragic elements woven throughout the intricate plot. The play concludes with a harmonious ending but all through the plot, reoccurring themes of sadness and tragedy are included.

In terms of dramatic structure, "The Merchant of Venice" is undoubtedly a comedy. It follows the typical upward trajectory of comedy (beginning complication to ending resolution}. Act 1 introduces the plays main complication, but it also sets the tone for comic expectation by establishing upward rhythm of comedy in each of its three scenes. Antonio and Portia's melancholy are shortly alleviated by appropriate distractions & hope. Bassanio hopes to thrive, Antonio tries to help his friend, Portia will not have to worry about being chosen by the suitors she has mocked.

Bassanio and Antonio get what they mistakenly but happily think is a friendly loan and Shylock mistakenly and happily, he has hit upon a winning scenario. After the opening act has set the rhythm and expectation of comedy, there is increasing fluctuation of the rising and dashing of hopes because of the various characters choices. Raised hopes and satisfaction however outweigh dashed hopes and dissatisfaction. Launcelot, Jessica, Lorenzo, Portia, Nerrisa, Gratiano & Antonio all escape the danger they most fear and realize their aspirations. Morocco, Arragon, Shylock and Antonio all suffer losses. However, Morocco and Arragon receive the strict justice of their penalty that they swore oaths to accept but both Shylock & Antonio are spared death & half of their financial losses are recovered.

The plot devices used in...