The Merchant of Venice
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Discuss Shylock’s dramatic function in The Merchant of Venice. What do critics mean when they suggest that Shylock is “too large” for the play? Does he fulfill or exceed his role?
2. In the end, how comic is The Merchant of Venice? Does the final act succeed in restoring comedy to the play?
3. Discuss the relationship between Jessica and Shylock. Are we meant to sympathize with the moneylender’s daughter? Does Shakespeare seem ambivalent in his portrayal of Jessica?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio. What does their friendship reveal about their characters?
2. Examine Shylock’s rhetoric. Pay special attention to the quality of his language—his use of metaphor and repetition, for instance. How do his speeches reflect his character as a whole?
3. Compare and contrast Venice and Belmont. What is the significance of these distinct settings in the play?
4. Analyze the way that time passes in The Merchant of Venice, paying special attention to conflicts between time in Venice and Belmont. Are there any inconsistencies, and if so, how does the play handle them?
5. To what extent is Shylock defined by his Jewishness? To what extent is he defined by his profession?
6. Discuss Portia’s character. How does she compare to the men around her? Is Bassanio a worthy husband for her?
7. Discuss how the trial scene reveals a conflict between justice and mercy. Is the conflict resolved? If so, how?
by Shehanaz, May 25, 2013
-The moon shines bright: in ‘such a night’ as thus.
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees.
And they did make no noise.-
It is a genre, in which Shakespeare is a master. For the other great comedy of the world’s literature, the comedy of Moliere or Ben Jonson, is different in kind to his. The play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, resolves itself purely into a simple form. It illustrates the clash between the emotional and the intellectual characters, the man of heart and the man of brain. The man of heart, Anto... Read more→