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A Closer Look at Shylock vs. Antonio

By balla87 Oct 06, 2005 767 Words
A Closer Look at Shylock vs. Antonio

The play is set in Venice, Italy. During this time, Venice was full of wealth, royal merchants, luxuriously dressed people, and distinguished culture. An example of this description would be Antonio. Even though the society seemed perfect, there was also a downside to them. The play revealed prejudices of a society that practiced the religious persecution of Jews and Christian dignity and the cruel moneymaking and legal side of Venice.

In the play, "Merchant of Venice" a strong rivalry is discovered between Antonio and Shylock. Antonio portrays the good man, a loyal and honest Christian, while Shylock comes off as the villain. Both the people of Venice and the audience hate shylock because they see him as a crafty and untrustworthy Jew. Early on in the play, it is almost as if Antonio could represent the villain because Antonio bullies Shylock. Antonio does this by spitting on him, calling him a dog, and just being abusive towards him all because Shylock is a Jew. "You call me disbeliever, cut throat dog, and spit on my Jewish gaberdine…" (Act 1 Sc3 lines 108-109 ). Later on in the play, you find out that Shylock is the villain and not Antonio. Shylock understandably has never forgiven Antonio of these actions, and as a result, he is very bitter and unpleasant towards him.

The scene at the beginning of the movie displays the rivalry between Antonio and Shylock quite well. This scene gives you a good sense of where the two men stand in regards of each other. Early on, in the movie, it shows when Antonio spits on and harasses Shylock but later on in that scene, it shifts to Bassanio, who is Antonio's best friend. Bassanio needs to borrow 3,000 ducats for three months. Antonio promises Bassanio that he will get the loan even though it is against his beliefs. Shylock agrees to grant Bassasnio the money but not before he gets to speak with Antonio, so then, Bassanio invites Shylock to have dinner with them but Shylock refuses. Therefore, Antonio just ends up joining them.

During Shylock's conversation with Bassanio he says, "I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following: but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you…" (Act 1 Sc3 lines 33-35). This quote alone displays Shylock's true feelings towards Christians. This ends up serving as a hint to the audience, that he would like nothing but to seek revenge on Antonio. Shylock then says, "I hate him for he is Christian." (Act 1 Sc3 line 39). With all this said the audience now has a good grasp on how Shylock really feels. He admits without hesitation that he hates certain people because of their religion. Shylock is malicious and his desire to have Antonio's flesh becomes an obsession. He shows no mercy for Antonio and his ways of revenge are very twisted.

With all that said, Antonio and Shylock reach an agreement. Shylock says that he will grant Bassanio the money but not without a catch. He says that if Antonio fails to pay him back that he must give up a pound of his own flesh. Shylock says, "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed far the ancient grudge I bear him." (Act 1 Sc3 lines 43-44). There is no way, Antonio's life is worth 3,000 ducats but of course, Shylock will go through great lengths to seek revenge on Antonio.

Antonio and Shylock are the two important components that are needed to construct the mise-en-scène. They are great examples of mise-en-scène as a measure of character. The hatred between the two characters provide the drama for the scene in the movie to be successful. The interaction between the two characters in the movie can easily establish an identity of its own because it can be the main story and if not one of the main stories in the movie or book.

The way Radford composes the scene in the movie does not really change my perspective of the situation. It really just gives me a clearer understanding of what is going on. Even though it might take away from my imagination, it still provides a better understanding of the play. One could look at it as dictating one's own opinion, but with me it just points out other details in the play that I might not have notice from just reading it

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