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Shakespeare's Use of Trickery and Disguise in His Plays

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Shakespeare's Use of Trickery and Disguise in His Plays

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Shakespeare's Use of Trickery and Disguise In His Plays

Shakespeare uses similar comic elements to effect similar outcomes in his works. Many of his plays utilize trickery and disguise to accomplish similar endings.
Trickery plays a major role in The Merchant of Venice and drives most of the action, while mistaken identity, specifically Portia's disguise as the "learned attorney's" representative, plays a major role in the resolution of the play. The first instance of trickery in the play is Bassanio's plan to present himself as a financially sound suitor, when in truth, he is not. Bassanio believes that he would stand a very good chance of being the successful suitor if he had the proper money backing him. Bassanio then goes to his friend Antonio to try to secure a loan to provide for his wooing.

O my Antonio, had I but the means/To hold a rival
place with one of them [other suitors]/I have a
mind presages me such thrift/That I should
questionless be fortunate!" (Shakespeare,
Merchant 1.1 173-176)

However, Antonio has, "neither the money, nor commodity/to raise a present sum" but urges Bassanio to go through Venice to try to secure a loan using Antonio's bond as credit (Shakespeare, Merchant 1.1 178-179). One of the resident money-lenders of Venice is an individual called Shylock, a person of Jewish descent. The practice of usury was traditionally banned by the Christian church. This allowed many Jews, because their belief system contained no objection to profitable money-lending, to become the de facto loan officers. Bassanio approaches Shylock to ask for a loan, and Shylock seems as if he is going to agree, however, he first asks to speak with Antonio. It is revealed in an aside that Shylock harbors a secret hatred of Antonio because of his religion and Shylock's belief that Antonio's practices drive down the interest rates that Shylock can charge in Venice. Here we see the second instance...