"Merchant Of Venice" Feminist Perspective

1567 words - 7 pages

The feminist critical perspective examines the roles that women play in literary works and their true significance to the text. Their roles are usually decided on by the society or time period in which the story is set. In "The Merchant of Venice," females were suppressed by the societal ideals of Shakespeare's Elizabethan era, which is portrayed through the characters of Portia and Jessica, who could not establish their own powerful identities because they were women. Portia and Jessica are the main female characters in the play. If they had been given a chance to show their skills, they undoubtedly would've been extremely strong women. However, they had to mask their abilities in order to ...view middle of the document...

.. A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, ... Stol'n by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl!'" (II.viii.13). Jessica's eloping with Lorenzo signified that Shylock's source of pride, his Jewish religion, would end after his death. There would be no continuance of the tradition because Jessica had betrayed him and married a Christian. She could no longer bear him a Jewish heir. After his religion, money was the second most important thing in Shylock's life. Jessica had taken some of his ducats and precious stones. He begged the law to condemn Jessica, who had stolen his hard-earned money. It was obvious that the loss of his daughter did not affect him one bit. But rather, it was the loss of his money and Jewish bloodline which infuriated him. Sadly, this showed that Jessica's worth was limited to nothing more than mere property.Portia was, like Jessica, bound by her father. She says: "If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father's will" (I.ii.98). Her deceased father had left behind a will, which contained a riddle. There were three caskets, made of gold, silver, and lead. The man who can correctly choose the casket containing Portia's picture would become her husband. If Portia had not remained loyal to her father, she could have easily chosen any man to be her husband. However, this shows the power of the male guardian in Elizabethan times. Portia did not dare to be disobedient to her father, even after his death. "O me, the word 'choose'! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father (I.ii.19). Instead, she grudgingly accepted the riddle as the ultimate decider in her fate and love life.In another aspect of Elizabethan society, women were mere objects that belonged to their husbands after ownership was transferred from their fathers. The suitors lasciviously desired Portia for her beauty and wealth. If they could win her as a wife, their reputations and futures would be set. The first suitor to try his luck at the riddle of the caskets was the Prince of Morocco. He chose the gold casket which had an inscription that read: "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire" (II.vii.5). This shows that Morocco was a greedy man who desired Portia for materialistic reasons, just like many other men who would desire the gold too. The second suitor to attempt the riddle was the Prince of Arragon, who chose the silver casket. Like Morrocco, Arragon was quite superficial. "I will assume desert. Give me a key for this / And instantly unlock my fortunes here" (II.ix.52). He saw Portia as merely a free ride to financial security. He didn't want her because he loved or cared for her. He only wanted her for her money and power. Women were a prize which men displayed and flaunted. A woman had no true value as a person.A recurring event in the play was the women disguising themselves as men. This is symbolic...

Other Essays On "Merchant Of Venice" - Feminist Perspective

The Merchant of Venice Essay Compare and Contrast - English class - Essay

1147 words - 5 pages Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” Antonio mentioned about the equality in the play, we’re all the same proves that he is still a good person, not only from the perspective of a money lending person. The spirit consistently exists in our modern world and drive through our enduring culture. When Shakespeare was writing the merchant of Venice, as a philosophical movement

In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is more a victim than a villain. Discuss. - English - Essay

779 words - 4 pages Page 2 of 2 In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is often portrayed as a helpless victim. Although the audience may think of him as a cruel villain, there is evidence hidden in plain sight that proves the exact opposite. In The Merchant of Venice, the audience is shown Shylock’s life as a Jew in Venice and how he is treated by others. Shylock is constantly spat on and called names and Shylock deals with the burden of having his only

merchant of venice english speech - saint marks coptic orthodox college - speech

931 words - 4 pages Shakespeare conformed the social concerns of the 16 the century Elizabethan era in his play merchant of Venice as it explored the depiction of the relationship between Jews and Christians, which has always been an ambivalent one, adds a very difficult dimension to this play. Ultimately, through dramatic plot and characters such as Shylock and Antonio. Shakespeare scrutinises what it means to be Jewish and what it means to be Christian. A closer

Book Cover Assessment For Shakespeare's Plays - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" And "Merchant Of Venice"

591 words - 3 pages In "Merchant of Venice", the problem towards Antonio occurs due to bad weather at the sea which eventually causes his ships to be delayed which allowed him to exceed the limit of three months to pay his debts back to Shylock. Antonio, whose money and other properties are in different ships as a trader, has to give a pound of his flesh to Shylock. As in the harbor in the picture, the setting of the play is well represented. For instance, the

The Merchant of Venice Essay: Good Copy - Grade Nine AP English - Essay

1224 words - 5 pages Abdirahman 1 Hasna Abdirahman  Ms. Cherubini  ENG1DA  9 May 2017   Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History:   An Analysis on Portia’s Character  Women, overall, were undervalued in the Elizabethan Era and were seen as objects that were owned and controlled by men. Often, the role of women was near to nonexistent and never exceeded house work. In the case of the heroine, Portia in William Shakespeare’s play ​The Merchant of Venice​, she is the

'Is justice served in the Merchant of Venice' - English Lit. - essay

1821 words - 8 pages Is Justice Served in ‘The Merchant of Venice’? By: Emilija Jakovlevaite In this play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ by William Shakespeare, situations occur which seem to prove the theory that doing the right thing does not always seem to be the most straight forward thing to do. Technically, the correct thing to do is to follow and obey justice and the law. However, in this case, justice means taking a man’s life for revenge. In my opinion, justice

Shylock as a Victim in Merchant of Venice - English Grade 10 Academic - Essay

948 words - 4 pages because of hatred. In the play, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, a complex character named Shylock is an example of this. Shylock is a Jewish man who is portrayed to be rude and bitter, who also hates every Christian. But as the play unravels, it is revealed that he is a hateful and villainous man, only because he experienced so much hatred and villainy himself. It is seen that Shylock faces religious discrimination for the reason

Does Shakespeare allow you to have sympathy for Shylock in the play of a Merchant from Venice? - English - Essay

879 words - 4 pages The Merchant of Venice – Exam Essay Act 4 Scene 1: Does Shakespeare make it possible for you to have any sympathy for Shylock at this moment in the play? The audience’s sympathy for the character of Shylock is likely to fluctuate during the course of the play. Whilst a modern audience would be shocked by the anti-Semitism evident throughout the play, Shylock’s stubborn pursuit of his “bond” can make him an unsympathetic character. Comment by St

art history about the Renaissance period - arh204 - essay

1702 words - 7 pages lessons of oil paint as well as the application of linear perspective. In the early renaissance, Venice is going to be aware of both traditions. So venetian artists are going to be better prepared or equipped to work in the media of oil than the Florentine artists. They will also introduce the use of oil on canvas. this is because the climate in Venice is unsuitable for wooden panels. Venice is going to have a lot of printing presses. This is going to

How Effective Do You Consider Chaucer's Digression, Praising Marriage, To Be?

925 words - 4 pages Although delaying the Merchant's tale, the digression adds humour and anticipation for the tale of the Merchant; while positioning us for interpretation of the tale. It is also a rebuttal of what has come before. At the beginning of 'The Merchant's Tale', Chaucer deviates from the story in order to praise marriage and to raise the question of the purpose of marriage. This could be interpreted as Chaucer's personal opinions of marriage or it may

Documenting Adichie's speech on Feminism to promote equality among genders - TCIS/ English - Essay

862 words - 4 pages presented her speech regarding to one of her greatest friends, Okoloma Maduewesi. She presented a story about her time with Okoloma with a sense of optimism; her emotions kept neutral except with a grin on her face. Mentioning her best friend Okoloma, she slowly diverted into her topic of feminism along with a couple of giggles from the audience. Having a rough past as stated in her speech, Adichie mainly describes herself as “a happy African-feminist

Similar Papers

Money In The Merchant Of Venice

1021 words - 5 pages 2Galvante1GalvanteEric GalvanteProf. RaubicheckEnglish 120D3/7/2013Money in The Merchant of VeniceThe Merchant of Venice, a play by William Shakespeare, is about a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who seeks revenge against the Christian merchant, Antonio. This play also tells about the love between Bassanio, a gentleman from Venice, and Portia, a wealthy heiress from Belmont. The only way Bassanio can marry Portia is by borrowing money, three

Analysis Of Shylock In Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice

511 words - 3 pages In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice the antagonist of theplay is Shylock. Shylock is a wealthy Jewish moneylender.Shylock is probably the most memorable character in the playbecause of Shakespeare's excellent characterization of him.Shylock is the antagonist in the play because he stands inthe way of love, but this does not necessarily make him thevillain of the play. Shylock can be seen as both thevillain of the play and as a man who is very

Merchant Of Venice English Essay Mc Laughlin Grade 10 Essay

1156 words - 5 pages The Correct Victim in The Merchant of Venice Shylock is by far one of the most fascinating, greedy, jealous and debated characters in the play The Merchant of Venice. He can be seen as both the victim and the villain. Shylock was humiliated and abused but he was also merciless and crude. Shylock is the victim rather than the villain. From the harsh abuse from the Christian’s, the utter betrayal of his only daughter and the complete humiliation

Merchant Of Venice Antisemitism Relating To Susan Pharr's "The Common Elements Of Oppression"

557 words - 3 pages In Susan Pharr's "The Common Elements of Oppression", she defines "the other" as the outcast of society, the ones who stand up for what they believe in, no matter how 'against the grain' it may be, the ones who try the hardest to earn acceptance, yet never receive it. In Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice", Shylock, the 'villain' is portrayed as the other simply because of his faith, because he is Jewish in a predominantly Christian society.One