The Merchant of Venice explores the theme of Appearance versus Reality. The theme is supported with many examples in the form of characters, events and objects.
During the discussion of the bond, Shylock says to Antonio “ I would be friends with you and have your love” and “this kindness will I show”. He pretends to be Antonio’s friend, but he has an ulterior motive, which is to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh from whatever part of his body he pleases. The underlying meaning is to kill him, and thus, although Shylock seems good-hearted, he is in truth, harbouring deceit. Shylock is manipulative and crafty as he tries to put up a show to deceive Antonio. He sounds generous about offering the three thousand ducats without “usance for my moneys”, thus winning Antonio’s trust. This was done to divert Antonio’s attention from his actual intentions. However, Shylock proposes a flesh bond as a “merry sport”, in substitution for not charging interest. The bond, although an unusual forfeit, is a serious matter, because Antonio may be killed from accepting its terms and conditions. Shylock is a brilliant strategist, and even the perceptive businessman, Antonio, has fallen for it. Shylock is a vindictive and unforgiving man, whose hatred for Christians has driven him to want to kill Antonio. We know that Shylock has suffered emotionally and physically because of how Antonio has kicked, spat and rated him many a times. Thus he deserves some of our pity, as taking revenge on your enemy is only natural.
... . Also the Venetian laws accepted the inhumane bond between Shylock and Antonio which stated that Antonio will get a pound of flesh cut off ... ^ (III. 1) said Tubal, a friend of Shylock^s informing him about Antonio^s misfortune. Shylock rejoices saying ^I thank God, I thank ... do take the means whereby I live^ (IV. 1), Antonio almost gets killed ^he seeks my life^ (III. 3), Jessica and Lorenzo ...
Launcelot is a Christian and should hate Jews, but instead he is a trustworthy friend and confidante to a Jewish girl, Jessica. He is not religiously prejudiced against Jessica because he sees a gentle and amiable spirit in her. Launcelot is trustworthy because Jessica entrusts a letter in his care for Lorenzo. Jessica also feels sorry that Launcelot is leaving, because he as a good-natured “merry devil”, brought the only ray of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy place. Furthermore, Launcelot calls Jessica “most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew”, signifying that he respects and admires her beauty. When Launcelot happens to meet his father, Old Gobbo, he appears to be a gentleman to him when in reality he is not. He played a tricks on his sand-blind father, for example, he gave confusing directions to Shylock’s house, called himself “young Master Launcelot”, and even declared that he was deceased. Old Gobbo must have thought that the man he was speaking to was highly intellectual, for he talked about “Fates and Destinies” and “Sisters Three”. That man was Launcelot, who was actually trying “confusions with him”. Launcelot is playful and clownish although he possesses a touch of pride and snobbery when he wants to taken for a young gentleman. Launcelot is sensitive, because when he sees that Old Gobbo is genuinely upset about his son’s supposed death, he reveals his identity.
Jessica’s wants to elope, for her house is “hell.” She is constantly restricted, and is not allowed to look at Christians at the Masque, or listen to music, which to Shylock is “shallow froppery.” As to the “pull” factors, it is her love for Lorenzo and a longing for a free-spending life-style. Jessica disguises herself as a pageboy during her elopement with Lorenzo. She disguises herself “ in the lovely garnish of a boy” to hide her shame of running away from her father with his money, and also denouncing her Jewish religion when she elopes with Lorenzo, a Christian. This disguise is more than just physical, for it is meant to hide her identity and to deceive. Indeed, her shame “of my exchange” may also reflect her concern for her place in Lorenzo’s Christian society, because we know that in the eyes of other Christians, she may still be a Jew. Jessica also pretends to be meek and submissive in front of her father when in reality, she is rebellious. Jessica is afraid of Shylock, and lies to him that Launcelot said “farewell mistress” when he actually told her about the elopement plan.
... impacted negatively in her life because she lost her Christian values that her father had instilled in her. She enrolled at Smith ... instead, she withdrew (Paul). When her father realized that she had a problem with his Christian religion he began to censor the ... some eccentricity. Being born in a Christian tradition, she was forced to espouse her father’s religious beliefs without any argument. These ...
Jessica is actually very disobedient because she wants to elope with Lorenzo. She relishes the experience of stealing her father’s ducats, saying that she will “gild” herself with “some more ducats”. Jessica also entertains her own hopes and ideas of a better life away from home, at the expense of her father. This shows her ungratefulness, unfilialness and dishonesty towards Shylock. Jessica is starved for attention and affection, and thus we sympathise with her. She is “caged up” by her father’s demands, and has a devoid of happiness in life. She does not socialise much, and thus thinks that life with Lorenzo should be better. However, she has to face many difficulties such as ostracism from both the Jewish and Christian community. We can tell that Jessica is decisive, self-sacrificial and resourceful as she was the mastermind of this elopement plan; and had to give up many things for her love for Lorenzo.
In the “lottery of the caskets”, the suitors have a fair chance to win Portia. Portia’s deceased father had great wisdom to devise the lottery of the caskets to help his daughter to choose her husband. The choosing of caskets look simple and depending on “Fortune”, but it actually tests the love, mettle and character of the suitor. Portia said to the Prince of Morocco, “Yourself, renowned Prince, then stood as fair as any comer I have looked yet for my affection.” Although the suitors have an equal chance in winning Portia, they are neither brave nor wise enough to be able to get through the choosing of the caskets. The caskets gold and silver looked attractive compared to lead. However, because lead had many more uses than gold and silver, it is considered more valuable. Prince of Morocco chose the gold casket because he is superficial, greedy and materialistic. Prince of Arragon chose the silver casket and thus it reveals that he too is superficial, trying to be someone he is not. As for those who choose the lead casket, it shows that they are intellectual, and not easily deceived by false values.
... was like a scale weighted at both sides for the prince. The prince chooses to become an adult leaving Falstaff behind, but not ... another example of the two worlds that the prince must choose from. Either the prince will take on Falstaff apathetic attitude when he ... is king, or he will become like his father a ...
The theme of Appearance versus Reality comes in the form of lies, deception and disguise. From this essay, I realised that people’s characters are affected by events that appear in a way that is untrue.