Religion In The Merchant Of Venice

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Challenging society’s accepted views has never been easy. Fighting against the status quo for what you believe in will always be met with hardship. Even so, the smallest effort to make your opinion known is always worth consideration, no matter the strife. This is highly apparent in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, where although it showcases many views and beliefs of its conservative time, its main characters and crux of the story direct towards a modern outlook, especially regarding its depictions of gender and religion. This is because Shakespeare describes his views that religions other than Christianity are tolerable and that intelligent and clever women should be respected, even though nearly every playgoer at the time believed otherwise.…show more content…
However, even the most dazzling of wrap-ups cannot compare to the plot-heavy midsection. Some may argue that Shakespeare merely wished for a laughable comedy, rather than a reflection on modern society. This is because of the observation that the characters, for the most part, are harmoniously married and happy as the curtains close, further embellishing the conservative views of Renaissance society. On the contrary, two of the ending marriages aren’t particularly happy, as evidenced by the last lines of the script, when Gratiano claims “I’ll fear no other thing/ So sore as keeping safe Nerissa’s ring” (5.1.328-329). This line, said to himself or the audience, implies that Nerissa is or could be an unfaithful wife, and that he must have caution in the future to suspect her of adultery. Nerissa previously explains to Gratiano that he never truly lost her ring, so while they may seem confused but happy together, there will always be a sense of mistrust between them, as is also the case with Portia and Bassanio. The main characters do not have nearly as harmonious of conclusions as one is led to believe. In a similar vein, the second, third, and fourth acts are where the most important scenes take place, and as such, where the controversial plot points lie. One cannot assume that Merchant of Venice being a comedy automatically pins it as a typical conservative story simply because of its mildly positive resolution. Portia disguising herself as a man for the entirety of Act 4 and giving intelligent quick directions, proving that a strong woman can save the “damsel in distress” Antonio, even when the one in peril is a man, having a gender which is infamous for being able to help themselves. It is unwise to believe that this significant storyline, along with several others, can be simply excused in favor of paying attention to
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