A Good Example of the Tragicomedy The Merchant of Venice

Categories: Merchant of Venice

In the Renaissance, tragicomedy became a genre of play that mixed tragic and comic elements into drama. It flourished, especially in England, despite its affront to the strict Neoclassicism of the era, which forbade the mixing of genres. Shakespeare provides a good example of the genre in The Merchant of Venice.

In Elizabethan England, many of the general public were anti – Semitic, driven by extreme dislike of other religions other than Christianity. It was especially fueled when the queen’s Jewish doctor was executed for attempting to poison her.

In the play Shylock, the Jewish is presented as a greedy, vindictive, bloodthirsty, moneylender. Theatre audiences expected Jews to be portrayed according to these stereotypes. The dramatists of the Elizabethan era gave their audiences what they expected to see and Shakespeare was no different. However, Shakespeare neither endorses nor critiques anti-Semitism; he merely portrays it. He subtly draws the audience’s sympathy by showing shylock’s humanity when he is devasted by the loss of his late wife’s ring.

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Shylock also insists that he ‘learned’ his hatred from the Christians, “The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction”. As Jews were barred from most other professions and therefore, he was forced to work in a profession that Christians condemned as immoral.

Another aspect of the Elizabethan society Shakespeare portrayed is marriage, it is not a romantic affair in the play, and neither men nor women are under the impression that it is.

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All of the marriages in the play exist for convenience or necessity; a business venture, a mythological quest, a chance for an unhappy daughter to escape her home, a way for a father to transmit his wealth to a man of his choosing. Bassanio says he loves Portia, but he pursues her for her money. She knows he is using her to get to her money, but she’s convinced herself to care for him anyway. She is following her religious tradition, which gives a husband full rights over his wife and also fulfilling her father’s will. Christian teachings are also portrayed in the description of the caskets; the gold and silver caskets representing greed as an unreliable guide and the deception of appearances.

The lead casket representing the importance of Faith and charity. The inscription on the lead casket also says ‘Who chooses me must give and hazard all he hath,’ referring to the Christian concept of surrender and sacrifice. As women were banned from the stage and their parts were performed by young boys, Cross-dressing was a familiar device to Renaissance drama and a powerful motif which allowed the female characters to adopt a different male persona and this reinforces the power of the Patriarchal culture in the Venetian society. society was influenced by men building a patriarchal society and women were thought of and treated as inferior. Portia reveals that donning men’s clothes is more than mere comedy. She says that she has studied a “thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks,” implying that male authority is a performance that can be imitated.

The Merchant of Venice is a microcosm of the Elizabethan era. It deals with issues such as inequality, racism and religion, portraying true features from Elizabethan England such as the comic effect of racism and mockery of people seen as the “Other”

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A Good Example of the Tragicomedy The Merchant of Venice. (2022, Apr 09). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/a-good-example-of-the-tragicomedy-the-merchant-of-venice-essay

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