The Merchant of Venice (Theatre) - TV Tropes
Shakespeare serves up three parent-child relationships in the play—two . The relationship between Launcelot Gobbo and his father is neither as tempestuous. Launcelot Gobbo. Adieu! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew! if a Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived . Why should you care about what Lancelot says in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice? (And teases pretty cruelly, joking that Old Gobbo's son is dead.) an interesting parallel to the relationship between Jessica and Shylock.
It's nicely tied up when Portia refuses to give Bassanio back his ring until Antonio talks her into it. In the subplot, there seems to be a bit of tension going on between Lancelot and Lorenzo as to which of them gets to spend time with Jessica.
All of Portia's suitors, the Italian Bassanio excepted. She and Nerissa spend most of their first scene mocking the suitors with stereotypical criticisms of their nationalities. The first three acts are a mix of drama and comedy split almost evenly between the Portia and Shylock plots, while the fourth act is straight drama despite some snarking from Portia and Nerissa and the fifth act is almost farcical.
An uncharitable reading of Bassanio, who, while he later seems genuinely besotted with Portia, initially spends a lot longer extolling her money's virtues than hers. He introduces his plan to woo her as "How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
Launcelot's comedic moral struggle, in which he parodies morality plays of the time. In the end, he sides with the devil.
Parent-children Relationship in Merchant of Venice by Samaher Alharbi on Prezi
Got Me Doing It: Portia's servant and friend Nerissa adopts many of her mistress' traits, including her sharp wit, her adventurousness Shylock is a Trope Codifier in the western tradition.
Within the play, Shylock is framed as a grudge-holding Loan Shark by other characters, but it's clear that he hates Antonio because the latter is an open anti-semite who abused him even when Shylock did nothing to him. A lot of the exposition falls to Salarino and Solanio, who commentate on the action and interview other characters. At one point Launcelot reads his palm and discovers that he's going to have fifteen wives.
He feels cheated; he wanted at least twenty. Part of Shylock's punishment is a forced conversion to Christianity, but it's hard to take his apparent compliance at face value. These days the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon itself portrays them as being in a romantic relationship, with Portia's full consent and approval. Hoist by His Own Petard: It's Shylock's insistence on claiming his bond no matter what and to the letter that leads to his undoing when Portia puts impossible conditions on him claiming it—when he attempts to back down and just take his money, Portia points out that he has already repeatedly refused the money in open court and may only have his "justice".
When he gives up on that, Portia then uses his plan to accuse him of attempted murder. A contract that gives you the right to murder another person is not enforceable by law. This was true in Elizabethan times as well—though of course, the play is set in Venice the codes of theater forbade representation of the Elizabethan court system and other institutions.
Gratiano is sometimes portrayed this way. At any rate, he's the most animated of the male cast. At the play's end Shylock has lost, in short order, his daughter, his fortune, his property, and his religion. When Launcelot suggests that Jessica's best hope of avoiding damnation is that she was born out of wedlock, Lorenzo rebukes Launcelot for having an affair with a Moorish woman: Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo.
Launcelot and I are out. He tells me flatly there is no mercy for me in heaven because I am a Jew's daughter; and he says you are no good member of the Commonwealth, for in converting Jews to Christians you raise the price of pork. I shall answer that better to the Commonwealth than you can the getting up of the Negro's belly.
The Moor is with child by you, Launcelot. It is much that the Moor should be more than reason; but if she be less than an honest woman, she is more than I took her for. Solario and Salarino are all over this: But it is true, without any slips of prolixity, or crossing the plain highway of talk, that the good Antonio, the honest Antonio—oh, that I had a word good enough to keep his name company— Salarino: Come, the full stop.
Whenever Launcelot says something like "To be brief Not to mention that he criticizes his dad for not being "honest"—which means both "honest" in the modern sense of the word and the line happens right before he runs into his dad and starts lying to him or "honest" in the secondary Elizabethan sense of "chaste" which he clearly isn't, either—he later criticizes the girl he got pregnant for not being honest.
I Gave My Word: Shylock claims he swore a solemn oath that he'd have Antonio's heart in revenge for the wrongs done him as his justification for refusing even several times the money he is owed.
An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven. Shall I lay perjury upon my soul? No, not for Venice. Bassanio comes from a noble family, but he has frittered away all his money and quite a bit more borrowed from Antonio and now needs to borrow more money to woo Portia, so that he can marry her and use his fortune to pay his debts.
It is much that the Moor should be more than reason, but if she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her for. How every fool can play upon the word! Shylock is very easy to portray this way, though it's not really clear if it was intentional.
Launcelot uses this a lot. After the trial gets underway, Shylock refuses reimbursement from Bassanio, reminding Venice of its unchangeable laws of precedent. Judge Balthasar Portia in disguise decides that Shylock is entitled to the one pound of flesh, but no blood can be shed and it cannot be even the smallest part higher or lower than exactly one pound or he forfeits his lands and goods.
Afterwards, the court finds that because he sought Antonio's life, one half of Shylock's money will be awarded to Antonio and the other half will go to pay the Venetian treasury. Antonio urges the court to allow Shylock to keep half of his fortune, with the other half to be granted to Lorenzo and Jessica as a trust fund.
In addition, Shylock must convert from Judaism to Christianity. Gratiano starts jubilantly quoting Shylock after the tables turn in the court scene. A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel!
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word. Since he's the Audience Surrogate and not really playing by the rules of drama, this quickly turns into an Overly Long Gag. Launcelot Gobbo, who may become a literal jester during the course of the play.Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 (ONLY 2nd half)(Launcelot,Old Gobbo and Bassanio)
Either way, he tells Jessica that she's "damned" and complains that converting Jews will raise the price of pork. Nobody seems to him too seriously. Gratiano, when the tables are turned and Antonio gets to decide Shylock's fate.
Nothing else, for God's sake! Bassanio is referred to once as Antonio's "kinsman" which could denote any distant family relationship in the first scene. Such a relationship is never mentioned again, and some scholars believe it to have been a mistake, especially since Bassanio and Antonio are necessarily of different classes.
Shylock [to Launcelot, in a conversation alternating between him and Jessica]: Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be the judge, The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio— [to Jessica] What, Jessica! Why, Jessica, I say! Later in the same scene, he hopes that Launcelot will become such a burden, that he would end up ruining Bassanio: The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder, Small slow in profit, and he sleeps by day More than the wildcat. Drones hive not with me, Therefore I part with him, and and part with him To one that I would have him help to waste his borrowed purse.
Already an established trope that Shakespeare is riffing on. In a bit of a Memetic Mutationthe term "Shylock" is now synonymous with loan sharks. Shylock alludes to his dead wife Leah. It implies he still loves her. Portia and Nerissa vow never to go to bed with their husbands until they see the rings.
Of course, they're the ones who took the rings. I will have my bond Nerissa is the Maid to Portia's Maiden. They both even go undercover together as men and keep the same dynamic. Nerissa is also officially Portia's waiting maid. Both the Gobbos constantly use the wrong words. Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Launcelot argues that Jessica might not be her father's child but that, hey, she's damned either way.
Lorenzo has it bad, although he and all the other guys seem to regard Jessica's lovable qualities as existing in spite of her Jewishness. Meaningful Name Portia is the "port" towards which many merchant-like princes venture in an attempt to claim the "goods", her money and herself.
It also implies a "portal" or means to an end, which her riches ultimately render her. She may also have been named after Portia, the beautiful and clever wife of Brutusto whom Bassanio compares her. The name "Shylock" is possibly derived from shallach, a Hebrew word for "cormorant" which was also used to describe usurers.
Regardless of original uses, his constant torment has made him shy, with a tendency to lock his true feelings and opinions away.
In some productions his last name, "Gobbo" Italian for hunchback is taken as an indication that he has curvature of the spine. His name in the quartos and folios is spelled as "Launcelet" or "little lance", possibly referring to his sharp tongue or his sharp wit.
Shakespeare may have intended to contrast her, a more traditional Italian beauty, with the exotic, golden-haired Portia. Some of Antonio's ships, according to Salarino, were wrecked on "the Goodwins," which means good friends.
The court finds that Shylock's contract with Antonio is legally binding, so he is entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh. The court goes on to say that Shylock is not, however, entitled to any of Antonio's blood. Since he couldn't take any flesh without also spilling blood, Shylock's "win" is rendered moot.
You'll find that the Christian protagonists do not act with any of the Christian values they so preach. This is lampshaded by Shylock in his famous monologue. Launcelot describes being tempted by the devil to run away from Shylock. He then reasons that Shylock is "the very devil incarnation", so whether he runs or not, he'll be getting bossed around by the devil. Later, he breaks it down for Jessica: Shylock's famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?
The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. Instead of letting Antonio die, thus clearing Bassanio of all his outstanding debts both fiscal and romanticPortia saves his life. As sacrificing himself for Bassanio seems to be all Antonio truly wants, this salvation is Portia's way of establishing control over Antonio and Bassanio's relationship—effectively neutering the hypotenuse.
Lorenzo and Jessica's plotline approaches a downright parody of Shakespeare's earlier Romeo and Juliet. They even have a balcony scene. No Celebrities Were Harmed: Some scholars argue that Shylock was inspired by Roderigo Lopezthe Portuguese "New Christian" converted Jew who served as Royal Physician to Queen Elizabeth, and whose trial and execution were tinged with anti-semitism despite Lopez's insistence that he was innocent and a Christian. There's a lot of literary theory on Antonio and Shylock as this.
The play presents them as twin outsiders—Shylock as a Jew to Venetian society, Antonio as a "tainted wether of the flock" to the world of love and marriage. Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew? But then he doesn't die like he expected to. Both Shylock's refusal to take three times the value of the bond after it has defaulted and Balthazar's refusal to let him take the money once he's been refused the pound of flesh.
This play is the first recorded instance of the name "Jessica. If Antonio is indeed homosexualhis eagerness for death could be due to guilt, either conscious or subconscious. Gratiano, Nerissa, and Launcelot all qualify. The film version starring Al Pacino as Shylock opens with a montage to illustrate how the Jewish community is appallingly mistreated enough for Shylock to want revenge.
Antoniothe titular merchant, is pretty clearly in love with his only friendthe dashing young nobleman Bassanio — so much so that he is eager to enter into a contract on Bassanio's behalf by which the penalty for defaulting on a loan is having a pound of his flesh removed, nearest the heart. Inevitablyhe defaults on the loan and is bound to a chair in court to have the flesh removed, which will most certainly kill him — but at the literal last second, Bassanio's new wife in disguise as a young judge announces an Exact Words loophole in the contract and saves his life.
Antonio swears he will "be racked even to the uttermost" to finance Bassanio's pursuit of Portia. Needless to say, he is. Portia really likes speaking in proverbs, a habit which seemingly passed on to her servant Nerissa. In contrast to modern views, in Elizabethan era the abundant usage of proverbs was considered a sign of wisdom and sharp wit; besides, it is widely believed that the character of Portia was based on queen Elizabeth, who was very much fond of proverbs herself.
Launcelot, much to Lorenzo's annoyance. Shakespeare was very fond of this trope. Male actors play women—Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica—who disguise themselves as men. Returning the Wedding Ring: Portia and Nerissa give rings to their new husbands as symbols of their love and fidelity, then disguise themselves as young men and trick their husbands into giving them the rings. Later, they confront their husbands and revel in their stammering excuses before revealing that they were the young men all along.
Portia then returns her ring to Bassanio through Antonio, oddly as a symbol for their renewed commitment to each other—though it's also a deliberate power play.
In the courtroom scene, Shylock turns down the complete value of the bond—even doubled and doubled again—in favor of his revenge on Antonio. Can be played as a Villainous Breakdownwhere the injuries Shylock has suffered are driving him to irrationality.
Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Happens to Antonio when all his merchant ships are lost in a not-at-all contrived manner.
The effect is reverted at the end when three of them unexpectedly return in an even less contrived way. Shylock says his daughter Jessica's name a lot in their first scene. One gets the feeling that he cares for her, but he's somewhat overprotective and possessive.
Launcelot appears to be this in his first scene, but as the play goes on he leans back into a more standard Plucky Comic Relief role.
Secret Test of Character Sure, you can have the ring that my wife to whom you bear absolutely no resemblance made me swear to never take off! Bassanio pretty much fails the test. The caskets are a test of character too, though you would have to be as dense as mud or, apparently, as dense as a prince to not spot that.
Launcelot pretends to be somebody else and reporting that "Master Launcelot" is dead when conversing with his nearly-blind father Old Gobbo, to detect if his father can still recognize him with the little sight he still has, and tells him that Margery is his wife and Launcelot's mother, and he is alive and well. Launcelot, whose Ultimate Job Security allows him to pass snarky comments to his employers without retribution.
British people play cricket on them when the tide is low enough. Small Role, Big Impact: Certainly, my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew, my master: Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me - "my honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man's son" - or rather an honest woman's son; - for, indeed, my father did something smack, something grow to, - he had a kind of taste; - well, my conscience says - Launcelot, budge not;" "budge," says the fiend; budge not," says my conscience.
Conscience, say I, you counsel well; fiend, say I, you counsel well; to be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew, my master, who, Heaven bless the mark! I will run; fiend, my heels are at your commandment, I will run. However, Launcelot does not run; he is spared that violence to his conscientious scruples by the unexpected advent of his father, an old Italian peasant, whose voice is heard calling in the distance, and halts the would-be runaway.
Launcelot's decision of character is not very marked, nor his resentments very strong, for in a moment his wrongs are forgotten, and he is designing a practical jest on his aged parent. Talk you of young Master Launcelot? The sincere grief of the old man evidently shames the boy, for he quickly changes his tone, and asks: Having established his identity with his father, Launcelot proceeds to tell him of his intention to run away from the Jew's service, and we gather his reason to be, that he does not get sufficient food to satisfy his youthful appetite; but perhaps the fact that the Lord Bassanio is engaging servants, and giving them "rare new liveries," may be the temptation.
The contemptuous reference to the Jewish race by this ignorant boy, and his vulgar pun on the word Jew are significant indications of the general prejudice against the Jews at this period; not only in Venice, but in all parts of the civilized world. Well, well; but, for mine own part, as I have set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground. My master's a very Jew; give him a present!
Father, I am glad you are come; give me your present to one Master Bassanio, who indeed gives rare new liveries; if I serve not him, I will run as far as God has any ground. The interview between Old Gobbo, his son, and the Lord Bassanio is delightfully entertaining. Launcelot's usual volubility halts in the presence of the young nobleman, and his father's assistance becomes necessary to prefer the suit "impertinent" to himself, and express "the very defect of the matter.
The self-satisfaction of Master Launcelot at his success is most humorously expressed, and with an egotism equally amusing; while his optimistic views of the future, obtained from the lines in his hand, indicate a confidence in the science of palmistry, which the author evidently does not share. Well, if Fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear. Notwithstanding his scruples of conscience that caused him so much anxiety, when we first met him, Launcelot has not been entirely loyal to his master, and on leaving we find him secretly bearing a letter from Jessica, the Jew's daughter, to her young Christian lover, Lorenzo.
The missive requires a reply which Launcelot obtains verbally, and the cunning young rascal cleverly manages to convey it to the young Jewess, while bearing an invitation to her father, from his new master, Bassanio.
His words are not brilliant, but serve to indicate his ingenuity. Mistress, look out at window, for all this; There will come a Christian by, Will be worth a Jewess' eye. Launcelot accompanies his new master to Belmont, where on our next meeting we find him comfortably installed; very much at home, and in a new livery.
He is still bandying words with Jessica, who is now the wife of Lorenzo, and, in the absence of Portia, mistress of the house. His self-esteem seems to have grown in his new service, his vocabulary has increased, and he speaks with more authority, but with the same unfortunate propensity for punning. He is obviously favored by his "betters," and like many others of small mind takes advantage of that fact to speak with a freedom that is not entirely devoid of impudence.
However, his humor atones for much, and his good-nature accomplishes the rest. The dialogue quoted with some slight eliminations below takes place in the garden of Portia's house Act 3, Scene 5. It is apparently the continuation of a discussion of the old theme of Jessica's parentage, and her father's sins; Launcelot taking a literal view of the scriptural precept in her case. Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children; therefore, I promise you, I fear you.
I was always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter; therefore, be of good cheer; for, truly, I think thou art damned. There is but one hope in it that can do you any good. And what hope is that, I pray thee?
Marry, you may partly hope that you are not the Jew's daughter. So the sins of my mother should be visited on me.
Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and mother; thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall into Charybdis, your mother; well, you are gone both ways. I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian. Truly, the more to blame he; we were Christians enow before; e'en as many as could well live, one by another. This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs; if we grow all to be porkeaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money.
The entrance of Lorenzo puts an end to Launcelot's calamitous predictions, and that gentleman having little appreciation of the latter's verbal fooling, directs him. Lorenzo's apostrophe to Launcelot's discourse is an admirable summary of the shallow mind, that mistakes the mere jugglery of words for wit.
It was a favorite method of Shakespeare's to furnish humor in his "simples" and serving men, and proved an amusing diversion in their mouths: