Explore the three portrayals of Shylock you have seen in Act 4 scene 1. In what ways are each effective and why?
The character of Shylock plays an important part in The Merchant of Venice. He is a money lender who charges interest (commonly known as usurer) and agreed to a bond with one of his customers called Antonio. Antonio agreed that if he wasn’t able to repay him, then Shylock could receive a pound of his flesh. Unsurprisingly Antonio couldn’t repay him, and so the bond was taken to court. We watched three different portrayals and examined the three different roles of Shylock. The first version we watched was Al pachino’s version. Al pachino is a well known Italian/American actor. This was directed by Michael Radford, and was created for cinema viewing. To follow this we watched Henry Goodman’s version of the scene. This wasn’t intently created for a large audience. It was made by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and seems to appear as more of a stage play. It was set in a dull set, and so was more theatrical. As it was created by the RSC, I think that they were quite dependant on the text, and wanted to stick to what was written, rather than adding their own little twists. The final version we watched was produced by the BBC, and made for TV purposes. This obviously would have had more of a budget than Goodman’s, but both were just as impressive. From just reading the book, I had anticipated Shylock to be a selfish, greedy, and all over quite an unpleasant man, but I think that his true colours shone through him. When reading the book you didn’t seem to get the sense of sadness towards the end of the scene which was projected through the all three film version. As explained above, Michael Radford’s’ version of the merchant of Venice was made for a cinema audience. It was set in 16th century Venice, and offered a wide range of costumes suitable of the era. He was dressing a long black robe, and Jewish skull cap. He appears a very frail, and fairly elderly...
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