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Merchant of Venice Essay

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Merchant of Venice Essay

Appearance plays a considerable part in people’s everyday lives. It influences how one is perceived by the people around them, thus possibly hindering their interactions with others. This has shown to be an issue throughout history. In the play The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare the issue of judging by appearance is very common. The difference between the reality of who someone truly is and their appearance depends on how others perceive them, how they portray themselves, and how one disguise’s the reality of who they are.
In The Merchant of Venice people struggle to be open-minded and accepting of others. We see that Portia judges her suitors by how they dress, look, and act. She judges the Prince of Morocco by how he acts and by his looks. After he fails to choose the right casket she comments on his looks and states that she hopes that anyone who looks like him will choose the wrong casket as well (II. vii. 78-79). As for her other suitors she says that one of them frown’s too much (I. ii. 45-51), that one is way to wild (I. ii. 53-62), and that another doesn’t understand her and dresses funny (I. ii. 65-73). She did not seem to take much time to actually get to know any of them; she just judges them by what they appear to be like. This shows how others make snap judgements based on one’s appearance due to the failure to give people a chance.
Additionally, characters do not positively present themselves. The character Shylock has the most trouble’s being accepted into the community. He is disliked by many and multiple times he is called, “the devil” (I. iii. 94 and II. ii. 21-25). This judgement is put upon him because of his actions and how he presents himself. He asks, “for an equal pound of... [Antonio’s] fair flesh, to be cut off and taken...” (I. iii. 145-147) if Antonio is unable to repay Shylock within three months (I. iii. 152-155). This shows how Shylock struggles to properly display himself. Even his daughter Jessica says that her, “house is hell” (II. iii. 2). She also adds that even though she is related to Shylock she does not in any way act like him (II. iii. 18-19). He is greedy and selfish and only cares about his riches. Later on we see that he would rather have his money and riches than his daughter (III. i. 78-90). Due to Shylocks poor presentation of himself people judge him by this and do not take the time to get to know him they just write him off immediately. Furthermore, the fact that Shylock is a Jew does not help people’s impression of him. In this time Jews were looked down upon and so people did not like him mainly because he was a mean, greedy Jew. This shows that when people do not try to portray themselves positively it can result in them being written off and disliked.
Finally, when someone hides their true self people do not always recognize them as they might have wanted them to. The Merchant of Venice illustrates this by how Portia and Nerissa dressed up as men to help their husbands save their friend Antonio. Portia and Nerissa’s husbands Bassanio and Gratiano had no idea of who they were, but once the two women revealed that they were dressed as men, their husbands realized the reality of who they were. This is like what some people do for more personal reasons such as being embarrassed of who they really are or because they want to fit in. Everyone is perceived in a different way by different people. When you try to hide your true self you may not be aware that you are presenting yourself in a negative way. Therefore, when someone hides who they actually are others might perceive them to be the complete opposite of their real selves.
In conclusion your appearance and the real you are affected by how you hold yourself, how others see you, and how you choose to conceal the truth. Though you might not intend to be perceived a certain way does not mean that you won’t be. If you wish to be judged by who you truly are then be yourself and don’t give anyone a reason to judge you differently.

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