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The Comedy Of The Merchant Of Venice An In Depth Analysis On Shakespeare's Shylock

2906 words - 12 pages

Through a comparison of comedy and tragedy, Othello and Twelfth Night, it can be seen that the audience’s view of the protagonist greatly influences the direction of the play. Shakespeare is able to manipulate ideas surrounding ideals during the renaissance in order to develop specific outcomes and messages throughout the plays. The context in which the play was written played upon develops a sense of identity amongst characters and the manipulation of these sends specific messages. The intent of The Merchant of Venice is complicated by modern views surrounding Judaism following the dreadful holocaust that resulted from harsh anti-Semitic ideals. While anti-Semitism still exists, it is no ...view middle of the document...

When comparing Shylock’s character to the characters of Othello and Malvolio, it becomes clear that Shakespeare does not necessarily create a sense of empathy for Shylock in the way he does with Othello. Rather, he creates a character that is disagreeable to the audience to which the play is intended.
The character of Othello is created as an outsider physically and through cultural differences. Othello is introduced as and known for being a person of dark skin, often referred to as, “the Moor” throughout the play as opposed to by his first name casting him as somewhat of an outcast in respect to the society in which he lives. Despite Othello’s physical difference, Shakespeare’s development of the protagonist surrounds the protagonist’s moral centre and positive actions to create a relatable and dignified individual with whom the audience connects with and feels empathy towards. As the introduction of the play in the Signet Classic edition states, “Othello appears in the opening acts as the very personification of self-control, of the man with so secure a calmness of mind and manner,” (Othello, lxiv). Upon meeting the Duke of Venice, we learn that Othello is a well-respected and prominent figure. The Duke addresses Othello in the most respectable tone, referring to the moor as, “valiant Othello,” (Othello, 1.3.47). As the play continues, the audience learns of Othello’s great feats as an individual prior to his residence in Venice. We become aware that Othello has converted to Christianity, joining the prominent Venetian religion of the time. As well, we learn of Othello as an active supporter of Venice in their war against the Turks. This analysis of Othello depicts his willingness to adapt and adjust to the Venetian culture. As an active supporter of the country in which he lives, Othello is socially accepted as a respected citizen of his country. His marriage to Desdemona is accepted and determines him as both well adjusted and capable of human emotion. The approval and love for Othello felt by the Duke and by Desdemona is infiltrated into the play’s audience whom received Othello’s dignity and sincerity kindly and accepts him for his moral centre and positive personal traits.
On the opposite side of Shakespearian drama is Malvolio’s character in Twelfth Night. In a joyful and delightful play that starts and ends with music, Malvolio is cast as the black sheep that does not necessarily enjoy all of the follies of the society in which he is a citizen. Despite his lower class position within the culture of Illyria, Malvolio views himself with high self-worth and comes across as extremely egotistical. In fact, when first introduced to him, Olivia states, “O, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and/ taste with a distempered appetite,” (Twelfth, 1.5.18), revealing that Malvolio is not only full of himself, but also does not have a very enjoyable temperament either. The other characters judge and poke fun at Malvolio due to this ill...

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