Merchant of Venice: Preview and Language (Preview and Themes (Love and…
Merchant of Venice: Preview and Language
Reading Shakespeare's language
Trick to understanding Shakespeare's work is to keep rereading the lines
Wordplay, poet compression, and omissions are hard to understand to the untrained eye of most readers.
In English the way words are put together can drastically change the meaning of a sentence.
Shakespeare often shifts away from normal English conventions and constructs his sentences in puzzling ways.
Shakespeare uses the arrangements and particular words to emphasize a certain meaning, tone or rhythm. Sometimes he gives a character a peculiar speech pattern to display character
One example of this is the way Shakespeare indicates the negative. Instead of "he does not go" Shakespeare writes "He goes not".(Introduction . xvii)
Shakespeare frequently places the object before the subject and verb. Instead of " It is white" Shakespeare writes "White it is " (Introduction. xvii)
Implied Stage Action
It is important to remember while reading Shakespeare's work that we are reading a performance script and that the words written go along with actions and actors to further describe them.
Some stage actions are described as whats called as " stage directions".
While reading it is imperative to imagine the imaginary play in our minds.
" Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly" (4.123)
"Not on thy sole but on thy sole, harsh Jew" (4.125)
"How like a fawning publican he looks". (1.41)
Preview and Themes
Love and Marriage is tough. "Path to marriage is hazardous ... epic voyage by Jason and the Argonauts." (Introduction. xiii) Leading theme in most of Shakespeare's works. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, both of the star crossed lovers have to work hard to be together because of their families. In Merchant of Venice, Bassanio has a difficult challenge ahead of him to marry Portia
Jews are Evil. Shakespeare uses Antisemitism throughout the Merchant of Venice. "Shylock. In creating this character, Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread and, from our point of view despicable prejudice against Jews". (Introduction.xiii)
Bassanio has to choose correctly among three caskets to win Portia's hand in marriage. If he chooses wrong, then he cannot marry anyone again. He must die with no heirs.
Four of the many ways that Shakespeare plays around with words are puns, malapropisms, metaphors and similes.
An example of a pun he uses most often is on gentle/gentile. "If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven, / It will be for his gentle daughter's sake" (2.4.37-38) Gentle can be switched with gentile , which means Jews.
Words sooth, piring, an , and doit have special meaning.s Sooth means truth. Piring means peering (looking), an means if, and doit means jot (quickly write down). Many of the words he uses have different meanings today. Words will become familiar as reading of Shakespeare continues.