The Merchant of Venice: Human Experience Exploration

Examining the complexities of the human experience in literature has always been a fascinating subject for scholars and readers alike. William Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' provides a prime example of such exploration. The play delves into universal human experiences, such as prejudice, self-interest, and oppression, and the unpredictable behavior that arises from them. By examining characters such as Shylock, Antonio, and Portia, responders gain a deeper understanding of these concepts and how they shape individual scenarios. In this way, 'The Merchant of Venice' serves as an enlightening piece of literature that allows readers to expand their comprehension of the intricacies of the human experience. A 'Merchant Of Venice human experience essay' could provide an in-depth analysis of these complex themes and characters.

The destructive human experience of prejudice in ambition for revenge, reveals the sympathetic motivations behind character experiences, that assist in conveying the complexities of human behavior. Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ was written in either 1596 or 1597, a time after the contextual event of Roderigo Lopez’s high-profile trial in 1594. He was practicing Protestant, being formerly a Jew, and was hung publicly after being accused of poisoning the Queen, whilst being her physician. It was believed that Jewish traits were inevitable even after conversion, thus cunning and treachery capabilities serving as justification for his demise. This and amongst works of 'Jew of Malta' is believed to inspired Shakespeare. In delving into anti-Semitic beliefs consisting of greed, felonious and villainous features which establishes Shylock's character, a Venetian Jewish moneylender. This mocked, greedy angle makes appearance as Shylock is introduced discussing 'three thousand ducats,' alliteration exposing his money centric mindset. His materialistic natures is further presented when his daughter, Jessica flees with his gold, thus the selective diction in revelation of his value in wealth rather than his daughter, wishing she be dead with 'ducats in her coffin!' However, sympathetic motivations of his induced anti-Semitic prejudice, may appear as justification for his vile character. Shylock is exposed susceptible in his willingness to 'be friends with Antonio and have his love.' His voluntary befriending is continued with effective diction in vulnerably warmer speech, which contrasts against Shylock's evil features. Yet, it is Antonio's submission to anti-Semitic values that reacts in him to continue his abuse and 'not hear' Shylocks plea. Thus, Shylocks is imposed into antagonism, diverging into the complexities of human experiences by reacting in vengeance. This draws emphasis to his grotesque demand for his 'equal pound, of fair flesh', 'equal' suggesting his desire for justice, moreover, emotively personifying that it 'will feed his revenge.' The mocked label of 'cutthroat dog' is embellished with snarky humour as he states that 'since he was a dog, beware of his fangs to lighten up serious prejudicial subjects. Furthermore, as the trail begins, Shylock's vengeance is emphasized even after being offered triple the amount of wealth owed, for he had 'sworn an oath…to his bond.' This highlights that wealth was not driven by socially perceived greed, rather enforced upon by prejudice branching to isolation and despair, as sympathetic motivations. This enables the audience to evaluate if his individual form of justice was justifiable in sufferance to a Christian society.

To extend, the duplicitous human experience of self-interest reveals biased motivations behind scenarios of characters, alluding to the complexities of human behaviour compelled by societies influence. ‘The Merchant of Venice’ commences with Antonio, a powerful and wealthy Christian nobleman of Venice, who had his financial interests tied in shipments. Initially, Shakespeare casts a sympathetic ambiance onto Antonio, with a compassionate attitude towards his relationship with Bassanio, a Venetian gentleman, expressing, “My purse, my person, my extremest means.” The use of tricolon signifies Antonio’s generosity in funding for Bassanio’s financial adversities, and his underlying sensual emotions within the double meaning of “my person”. Antonio further reassures Bassanio, “That in your knowledge may be me by done,” articulating his willingness to connect himself to satisfy any wish of Bassanio in pleasure, the compassion displayed through inclusive personal pronouns used in “your” and “me”. Moreover, the audience learns of his devoted nature in bravely complying to contextual justice systems, restating that “to supply the ripe wants of his friend, he’ll break a custom.” This custom in conventional business conduct of a loan is deviated through his inconsistent behaviour in his sealing to a bond with interest, practices which he scorned. Contradictorily, Shakespeare sheds understanding to the imperative power of an anti-Semitic society in projecting extreme hatred towards Jewish individuals. Antonio’s contrast of emotions in his loathing is evident through metaphorical terms of “cut-throat dog,” that highlights his comparison of Shylock to an animal, as well as highly emotive evocation in “spitting upon his Jewish gaberdine.” Out of remunerating fury and exploitation, Shylock expresses that Antonio “Disgraced me… his reason? I am a Jew.” The shortened syntax end structure upheaves impact on the degradation of Jews. This is further amplified when Antonio declares with highly emotive language, that he would, “spit on thee again, to spurn thee too,” intensifying his lack of remorse. This enables the audience to cast a vile racist impression on Antonio against his kind-hearted nature towards Christians. Thus, Shakespeare bears witness to Antonio’s erratic shift between his compassionate and repulsive behaviours, which perhaps support justification to his dynamic nature against imperative social influences.

Whilst oppressive natures overpower the lack of liberty, the desire to exert free will is present, either implicit or explicitly directed. Thus, particular individuals within ‘The Merchant of Venice’, deviate from social contextual values, shedding light onto anomalies and inconsistent human behaviours. Shakespeare represents the patriarchal and xenophobic Venetian society through a unique lens of Jessica. Indeed, the complexities native to Jessica’s role as a daughter, amplified by burdensome ties to her religion, grant sympathizing perspectives. Her dual repression is revealed in her statement that she “shall end this strife, become a Christian and loving wife.” Structured by the flow of rhyme, her desires to be free from imposed anti-Semitic provocations, is declared in “end this strife”, yet her entrance to another repressive relationship as Lorenzo’s “loving wife” deters as contradictory. This, ultimately, sheds light to her inconsistent behaviours in establishing an irregularity, by deviating from her father and religion, yet submitting to patriarchal values in property of her soon to be husband. Jessica’s conflicting emotive qualities in guilt of defiance posed against liberty motivations, is recognised as she states “what heinous sin” it is to be “ashamed to be her father’s child!” The exclamation mark highlights her shameful betrayal to her father in deterring societies expectation in undertaking the submissive role of a daughter. Her deviation as a complex reaction to freeing from her oppression, evokes sympathetic emotions in responders, as it conveys important concepts of paradoxical behaviours. Furthermore, her speech of “sin” relating to native religious values is inconsistent in the entirety of the play. Jessica is discriminated by her religious title as a Jew, as Christians had anti-Semitic beliefs in fear of minor religious practices. Hence, Jessica desires to “be saved by her husband; hath made her a Christian,” as the line alignment of parallel structures in “husband” and “Christian” suggest that marriage primarily signifies advancements into legal and social status, rather than spiritual or righteous grounds. This poses as a paradox, as other Christian characters have scrutinized Jessica for her religious identity that she does not affiliate with, however her entrance to Christianity is also filled with nonspiritual motivations, but yet is accepted. Thus, Jessica’s diversion from oppressive roles as a woman and a Jew, yet conformation to patriarchal values, have convulsed complex insight to inconsistent human behaviours.

In sum, the analysis into the exploration of unique life character experiences extracted from Shakespeare’s 16th century ‘The Merchant of Venice’, exposes responders in broadening understanding on the complexities of human experiences. This sheds insight to universally relative prejudicial, self-interest and oppressive human experiences, in which are heavily influenced by social contextual pressures. Hence, the natures of convolutedness is conveyed through a multitude of characters life scenarios. This essentially uncovers contrasting motivations behind volatile and deceitful behaviors that give mean to responders in acquiring a complex perspective of the universal world of human experiences, that are present in varying contexts.

16 August 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now