Year 11 question 1 – Merchant of Venice

BASSANIO This is Signior Antonio.
SHYLOCK [Aside] How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
If I forgive him!
BASSANIO Shylock, do you hear?
SHYLOCK I am debating of my present store,
And, by the near guess of my memory,
I cannot instantly raise up the gross
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft! how many months
Do you desire?

(b) Using your understanding of the extract, explain how the following lines might be
performed. (in bold)

(c) In the extract, Shylock imagines revenge.
Comment on the importance of revenge in one other part of the play.

20 thoughts on “Year 11 question 1 – Merchant of Venice

  1. Jake R

    In this extract I want to show that Shylock is trying to make himself look more powerful than Antonio. As Antonio walks in Shylock starts insulting him about the way that he lends money to people and discriminating him for being a Christian. To show this, Shylock should be stood further upstage then Antonio.

    Shylock’s line “cursed by my tribe, if I forgive him” should be said with a sarcastic tone of voice as this will show the audience how Shylock feels about Antonio’s attitude towards his money lending. Antonio insults Shylock about his ‘interest’ through the play and Shylock speaking like this will show that he is trying to remind the two about this when they’re asking for the money.

    Antonio and Bassanio should be stood close together, but not close to Shylock because this will suggest that the two of them are good friends and will show to the audience clearly what the sides are in the situation.

    1. dartmouthacademyeng

      Well done for getting on with this to schedule, Jake. You need to go into a little more detail about character and the interesting bits about the lines that are spoken and how they are spoken – where they are standing is important, but to keep climbing the mark scheme, you need to look in more detail about the feelings they are showing from moment to moment. Here, for instance, Shylock is talking mainly to the audience – how will you make it not look like a ‘pantomime villain’? Is he explaining himself or just provoking the audience. What tone of voice should Shylock use? Give some more ideas before you move on to the next question.

      1. jake R

        It sounds like he is explaining himself, but this would be provoking the audience anyway because he says that he hates him for being a Christian, which would have been the religeon of most of the audience. Shylock can stand there insulting Antonio in front of everyone though because Antonio is the one asking for the money off of Shylock which in this part gives Shylock more power over Antonio.

  2. Tom Davies

    In this extract i want to show how Shylock is making himself look more powerful then Bassanio. Shylock starts to show his religious beliefs from the ,minute Antonio walks in. Shylock is not happy about the way they like lending money and then begins to discriminate Christians. This is because he’s a Jew. To show the power Shylock has over Antonio and Bassanio he would be stoop further up stage.

    further on in the extract Shylock continues his speech about how he thinks Christians lend money wrongly. When Shylock says “cursed by my tribe, if I forgive him.” He begins with a threat. When preforming this line, Shylock should be stood over Antonio as well as slamming his hands down on the table. This is because Shylock is in power and stating that if he does not return the money he will be cursed by his religion.

    This extract is all about Shylock. Antonio and Bassanio would be stood close to each other to show their friendship. But they wouldn’t be stood near Shylock because he’s a Jew. The distance between the characters also shows the sides in the situation.

    1. dartmouthacademyeng

      Tom, it is ‘standing’ not stood. ‘He stood up’ – ‘he should be standing’ – one is the past participle (stood) and one is the past continuous(standing) – one is an action, one a continuous state. (When we say ‘he was stood’ it’s grammatically incorrect). The long speech is a soliloquy – the other two characters on stage do not hear it. He is talking to himself (and the audience). How does this knowledge change your answer.
      Keep going with the work!

  3. jake R

    Another part of the play where revenge is important is in Act 4 the court scene. This is where Shylock is trying to get his pound of flesh from Antonio and the others are trying to stop him. Revenge is important here because it shows what the relationship is like between some of the main characters. For example, just before Shylock is about to cut Antonio, Bassanio says his line to Antonio about how the life that he has with everything in it, including his wife, would mean nothing if he were to live it without Antonio. This part shows how much Antonio really does mean to Bassanio and how sorry he is about everything that he’s caused.

    In this scene, we can also see what kind of a person Portia is and how much she values her marriage with Bassanio. She dresses up as the judge and finds away around Shylocks bond just so that she can save her husbands best friend. She is also Christian and so doesn’t believe in revenge but in mercy, which is why she offers to let Shlock have double the money and leave the bond before taking all of his possessions and handing them out.

    Revenge is also significant here because it is one of the main parts of the story and without Shylock wanting revenge on Antonio then it would be a bit dull. If Portia didn’t turn the bond back onto Shylock or he gave mercy to Antonio then there wouldn’t really have been a climax to the plot so this theme is one of the important ones for the development in the storyline.

  4. Jake billings

    B) In this scene I would like to show the conflict between both religions, Christianity and Jewish. I would show this when Shylock says ‘I hate him for he is a Christian’ by having Shylock spit in the floor near Antonio’s feet, while frowning at Bassanio. Also having him shout this in anger, would show the audience that he has a lot of hate for the Christians, showing he believes very strongly in his own faith.
    When Shylock says the line ‘ he hates our sacred nation’, I would have him stand further back of the stage, showing he has more power in this situation, pointing towards Antonio with a fierce look on his face. This would show the audience that Shylock is very angry with the Christians and this is the way he is expressing this.

    C) In act 4 the court scene, Shylock attempts to claim revenge on Bassanio, by trying to kill his best friend, Antonio. He does this because Bassanio didn’t pay him the 3000 ducats back which he lended, therefore Shylock is wanting revenge.

  5. Joel Atwell

    C) In this extract i want to show that Shylock is heretic against Antonio’s religion and beliefs. To show that he’s heretic, in the following line, ‘I hate him for he is a Christian’, he should look at Antonio with disgust and pity and also should be up stage to show he is in control of the situation, which is Bassanio and Antonio discussing the bond.

    I also want to show Shylock as being sarcastic towards Antonio and Bassanio. Shylock says ‘Cursed be my tribe, If I forgive him!’, this shows Shylock to be mocking the two ‘Christians’ about the bond and mostly Antonio’s past experiences with money lending.

    B) Another part of the play where revenge is shown is in act 4, the court scene. In this scene you see Shylock about to take Antonio’s pound of flesh. This shows revenge because Bassanio didn’t get Shylock the 3000 ducats in time, therefor Shylock takes Bassanio’s best friend flesh.

    Also is this scene, you see Portia dress up as a judge to pin the bond back on Shylock. This is because she values her and Bassanio’s marriage and therefore wants to get Antonio free from the flesh cutting. Believing in revenge isn’t Portia’s right as she is a christian and therefor believes in mercy. Hence why she allows Shylock to have back double the money or nothing.

  6. Josie

    The following line “I hate him for he is a Christian” should be performers with Antonio standing slightly behind Bassanio and sylock facing towards Bassanio. When he saids the lines Shylock should come across to not acknowledge Antonio, which will ootprtray to the audience that he is holding a grudge over Antonio for the way he has previously treated him. Antonio should emphasise the word ‘hate’ and spit as he saids it to symbolise that he is spitting on Antonio due to the fact that he is a Christian; he audience should feel nervous like Shylock is so infuriated that he makes people feel on edge and uncomfortable. Also Antonio should step towards Bassanio as he saids it and Bassanio should step backwards to imply he is uncomfortable.

    The following line ‘he lends out money gratis and brings down the rate of us acne with us here in Venice” should be performed with Shylock looking towards the audience. He should sound agitated and frustrated, to make the audience think he is annoyed at the fact that Antonio has ruined the reputation of not only Venice but Jews. When he saids “he lends out money gratis” he should make a car caustic laugh to come accross as ” what’s worse is he lends out money without interest” to imply that Shylock is a clever business man and knows what he’s doing whereas Antonio doesn’t. Both Bassanio and Antonio should be looking towards Shylock to imply they are listening to Shylock. Shylock should look quickly in the middle of his sentence and Antonio to create awkwardness which follows on by Antonio putting his head down to show his embarrassment.

    The following line “this is signior Antonio” should be performed with Bassanio gesturing towards Antonio who should step out towards the side of Bassanio to symbolise the importance of his entrance and to imply how Bassanio feel towards Antonio now he is going to lend money off Shylock for him. Shylock should look intrigued to see Antonio and should step slightly towards them both to portray his emotions. When Shylock sees Antonio, Antonio should look instantly uncomfortable to let the audience know he is discriminative towards Shylock as he is a Jew.

  7. Brandon

    B) In this extract I would show the following lines from the start with Shylock trying to gain the upper-hand in power by discriminating Antonio as he walks in; Shylock should turn to the crowd with a menacing look to show the expression of anger on his face with heavy breathing and gritting teeth: ‘I hate him for he is a Christian ‘. The use of a dominant word ‘hate’ expresses his feelings towards Antonio from the start of his speech can show Shylock is not a friend of Antonio for who he is and how he dresses: ‘how like a fawning publican he looks!’. Shylock should start to up stage when the lines are preformed to show that he is the one gain power in the situation.

    I would show the proximitics between Antonio and Bassanio to be close to show they are good friends with eachother for Antonio to help Bassanio in his time of need but, on the other hand Shylock should be far away from them both from the start to show that closeness is not there as they are not friends: ‘he hates our secred nation’ and ‘I hate him for he is a christian’. Looking at these both quotes from Antonio aside speech you can see the rivalry between the two as they both hate eachother religion ‘secret nation’ meaning jewdaisum. Shylock should keep far away with his eye contact in another direction from the Bassanio and Antonio to show he doesn’t care for what they have to say and will not show the curtisicty to glare to show he is listening.

    The use of hand gestures shown by Shylock will show the expression of anger he has for antonio: ‘if I catch once upon the hip, I will feed the fat ancient grudge I bear him’. As the lines are spoken by Shylock at the start of the quote he should yield a imaginary knife in his hand and showing it slicing across his chest, as Shylock wants to happen when the bond is wrote, with a faint laugh to express his anger when he speaks the lines ‘I will feed the fat ancient grudge I bear him’

  8. Rhiannon

    Here, Bassanio will glance over his left shoulder to see Antonio approaching in a casual manner, and then place his hand on Antonio’s shoulder as if to guide him towards Shylock, but in a subtle manner because it is a minor detail that portrays the significance of their friendship. However, to contrast the strong link between Bassanio and Antonio, Bassanio will state: ‘This is Signior Antonio’ in a humble tone because he knows that Antonio has a stronger personality, and also because he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing to upset his friend.

    Opposing this friendship is Shylock, who has a clear hatred of Christians, particularly Antonio because of the maltreatment he endures from them. The monologue in which is portrayed in this extract should be performed in the following way: a soliloquy where Antonio and Bassanio do not move, and Shylock performs his speech, venting his anger in a controlled way. When he states: ‘ I hate him for he is a Christian,
    But more for that in low simplicity’ he should have a zealous tone to show his passion of hatred, and to show how he is ridiculing them behind their backs, but his expression is one of malice to show he enjoys backstabbing the Christians, and almost a manic smile that shows the audience that he is finally getting revenge his way, especially when his words ‘ If I can catch him once upon the hip,
    I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.’ echo because he enunciates at this particular line to show how the religious discrimination has had its’ impact.

    Antonio does not have any lines to deliver, however upon his entrance he should acknowledge Bassanio who is the reason that he has to talk to Shylock. Upon this, Antonio will have a look of displeasure on his face which will visibly portray his hatred to both the audience and Shylock, as well as crossing his arms over his chest to act almost as a defense, and give the occasional fake yawn to show his boredom

    1. Rhiannon

      C) Revenge is shown in the court scene when Shylock is seen to have the upper hand in the situation when Antonio fails to pay back the money that he borrowed. In this scene, it shows Shylock to be a villain because he is bearing a grudge against the Christians, as it shows him for being a merciless and ruthless character, which then in turn shows his religion to confirm the stereotype villainous kind. Antonio is seen to be the victim in this scene because he has lost his ships, which is revenge for Shylock for the way that he’d been treated.

      The relationship between the characters was none other than enemies. Antonio and Bassanio are Christians, and so they see themselves in a light of authority, whereas Shylock is shown to be inferior because of his religion, and the treatment of the Jews was enough to spur Shylock into getting his revenge. All in all, there is not really a relationship between the characters, even when they interact with each other because their religions were enough to keep them apart and separate them from being more than just ‘business acquaintances.’

      Shylock is then pursuing the case in the court scene, and it seems as though the law is playing into his hands when he points out the clauses in the contract, of which Antonio cannot disagree with, although revenge is later sought indirectly by Bassanio and Portia when the outcome of the situation means that Shylock’s train of revenge is brought to an end and twisted around to hurt him when forced into converting religions.

  9. Aimee Felton:)))

    In the extract, the lines ‘this is signoir Antonio’ should be performed by portraying the friendship between Antonio and Bassanio, this should be shown by Bassanio putting his hand on Antonio’s shoulder showing the friendship between the two characters, in addition Bassanio should look at Antonio when doing so, this would show the audience how close the relationship is. Also, Bassanio should say the lines in a soft tone of voice to interpret that the two characters are close.

    In this scene, I would have the proxemics between Shylock and the two opposing characters to be spaced out to show the audience the division between the religions. Shylocks line ‘I hate him for he is a Christian’ I would have Shylock emphasise the word ‘hate’ by raising his voice slightly to show the depth in the word ‘hate’ and to show the audience how much conflict there is between the religions. Furthermore, Shylock should take a couple of steps towars Shylock and Bassanio to show that he has more power, also to show that the character is trying to intimidate the other two.

    Shylock should be presented as bitter, fierce resentful and when he says ‘he lends out money gratis and bring down the rate of usance here with us in Venice’ he should be made out to be angry because Shylock is saying Antonio is giving Venice a bad reputation in which Shylock doesn’t like. Shylock should also turn and look at the audience when he says ‘here with us in Venice’ to show that he is serious and to attempt to get the audience on his side,

  10. merlin

    In this extract i will show how Shylock will gain power over Bassanio. As Shylock says “I hate him for he is a Christian” Shylock would take a large step upstage and, because this is a well known line, he would move inline with both Bassanio and the audience. This will make it look as if he is telling the audience yet still not seaming distant from the scene. Most the audience at the time would have been heavy Christian there for emphasizing the role of ‘the baddy’ by making the audience hate him.

    I would have Shylock show to be passionate about his hatred for Antonio. Shylock would be talking way over all the other people talking on stage, and I would have the exerts focused on him. This would re-enforce Shylock shouting with out him actually being to loud, because Shylock wouldn’t want to seem to have a loss of power in front of Bassanio.

    Bassanio would be worryed about shylock not giving him the money, however he wouldn’t want to show it. Bassanio would have a face of grimes a worry whilst attempting to hide it with a fake smile. the reason for this would be to try and hide that at this point in time Shylock is in complet control of the situation. This is way he can get away with insulting him and his friend.

  11. Savannah

    B) When Bassanio says, “This is Signior Antonio” he should gently guide Antonio towards Shylock, putting his hand on his shoulder, to show the two are close friends and that he is supportive of him, almost pushing him forward in an encouraging manner. He should stay fairly close to Antonio, which would also show their relationship. His tone of voice when he says this should be quiet and polite, as Shylock is the deciding factor in his plan to meet Portia, so he wants to keep civil and avoid upsetting him. He may also keep his head down, as it may feel a bit daunting to be asking a favour off of their enemy, who they have frequently discriminated beforehand.

    In addition, when Shylock says “I hate him for he is a Christian” he should have a vengeful tone, but with a hint of satisfaction at the situation he is in, as this is, for him, a rare chance to be above them, and he is relishing an opportunity to call them out for their previous rude behaviour in retaliation. He could also, when he says the words “hate” and “Christian”, come close to Antonio, in a slightly menacing manner (though he shouldnt act entirely threatening in action, as Antonio is a higher up and a more respected figure) with an eery smile in his face, and in response to this Antonio should back off slightly, for he is aware that Shylock hates him for the same reason for his hatred-different religious beliefs. When he does this, to show his support, Bassanio should, again, put his hand on Antonio’s shoulder to show his support of his best friend.

    Shylock should perform “I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him” in an increasingly more angry tone. As he begins to rant about how much he hates Antonio, he should say his lines faster, and louder, almost like he is spitting out his words as they go on, especially when he says, “Cursed be my tribe, if I forgive him!” Also, his gestures should grow wilder, with him waving his arms around to show his anger. He has been holding in his anger and frustration at him and his people’s treatment from Christians at the time, and now that he has the upper hand, he can say things he never was able to say before, as they have to stick with him no matter how badly he treats them; they need his money lending. As he says this, Antonio and Bassanio should at first appear guilty, looking down and fidgeting as he insults them, but as he gets increasingly judgemental Antonio should start to look visibly insulted, and struggling to keep civil. Bassanio, obviously aware that this is his only chance with Portia, could shoot him warning glances, and gesture with a finger to his lips to be quiet and endure the insults to get the money.

    C) Revenge is explored in the court scene, in which Shylock chooses revenge over mercy, and attempts to cut a pound of flesh from Antonio, whom he hates. Shylock, who has suffered repeatedly from his enemies, Antonio and Bassanio, for being a Jew, and so yearns for revenge, which ultimately leads to his downfall, with him losing everything he has.

    This scene has a strong religious message, saying that mercy is better than revenge, with Portia stating “it is an attribute to God himself”. It’s shown that mercy is ultimately the better choice if a situation calls for a person to choose, as Shylock chooses revenge over mercy and “thrice thy money offer’d thee”, seemingly misunderstanding the Christian concept of revenge, or perhaps putting too much faith into it; letting it warp his vision, and consume him. However, while this does portray Shylock badly, he does have a justification for such an obscure want; he is genuinely hurt by Antonio and Bassanio. They have been cruel in the past, and it is shown that, while the Christians in the play preech mercy, Portia gets revenge from him by making ultimatums and even humiliating him in court, referring to him as “the Jew”. They certainly don’t mind cruelly leaving Shylock with nothing, including his daughter, whom he clearly loves.

    It may be that Shakespeare is trying to make the anti-semetic audience of his time aware of this unfair divide; only Christians can get away with revenge. If Shylock tries to have revenge, he can’t get away with it, and gets labled as the villain; when the Christian protagonists do it, they are given a happy ending. He may have wanted to get this point across, as while it is clearly shown that revenge is the bad choice, he is also showing that revenge is uneven, and that the (in Shakespearean time) percieved “good” people can have revenge, but “bad” people cannot get away with it.

  12. lewis

    Shylock should perform his lines to himself under his breath. Firstly because it say’s ‘aside’ at the start of his speech, this means that he says them to himself, it should also be used when he says “I hate him for he is Christian.” This isn’t something he would want Antonio or Bassanio to hear because he’s trying to close a deal with them.

    Shylock should be positioned at a distance away from Bassanio and Antonio when performing his speech as he says things that could offend Bassanio and Antonio, such as “I hate him” or “I hate him for he is Christian.” This obviously could offend Antonio and Bassanio so he doesn’t want them to hear him, he could also speak to the audience with these lines and it could either get them on his side or make the audience hate him.

    When Shylock performs the lines “If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” He should use hand gestures to show that he’s thinking to himself because he’s saying ‘if I can get the upper hand on him once i’ll satisfy my grudge.’ Si if he needs to show he’s thinking about that and he needs to be smug when he comes up with that plan.

    In the court scene Antonio has revenge on Shylock. Antonio sealed a bond with Shylock that if Antonio doesn’t pay the money back in three months, Shylock can take one pound of Antonio’s flesh. Antonio’s ship didn’t come in so he couldn’t pay Shylock, so at this point Shylock has revenge over Antonio.

    Antonio and Shylock don’t like each other, because they have different beliefs, so they both hold grudges against each other, mainly because of the finance, because Antonio does’t agree with lending money with interest, but Shylock does and gets frustrated with Antonio because he doesn’t add on interest which is lowering the interest rate, so Shylock is getting less money.

    In the end Antonio gets revenge on Shylock with help from Portia(dressed as a male) because Portia catches him about by saying he can only have one pound of flesh, no less or no more, which is physically impossible so Shylock is left with nothing and the audience feeling sorry for him.

  13. Georgia

    The following line: ‘This is Signior Antonio’, should be performed by Bassanio looking towards Antonio with one hand on his shoulder. Moreover, Shylock should be sat behind his desk with Bassanio and Antonio stood infront, this would show Shylock’s authority and that he is incharge here. By Bassanio placing his hand on Antonio when he walks in, it helps to portray their friendship and the sense that Bassanio is really hopeful towards the situation. Moreover, when Antonio enters, Bassanio should become more relaxed and look less nervous due to having his best friend next to him now; this should be shown by his tone of voice becoming more confident and his posture improving.

    In addition, when Shylock says the phrase: ‘How like a fawning publican he looks!
    I hate him for he is a Christian’, he should stand from behind his desk as if to intimidate Antonio. He should not make eye-contact with Antonio untill he speeks, this shows that he has identified Antonio and helps to portray his hatred for him. Shylock’s tone of voice should be loud, boisterous and clear, this depicts that he strongly means what he is saying and helps to show their relationship. Also, he should smirk when he says the line: ‘I hate him for he is a Christian’, this shows racism and the sarcasm of the character Shylock.

    Finally, when the line ‘Cursed be my tribe, If I forgive him!’ is performed, Shylocks facial expression should portray pure anger. This should be shown through his eyes mainly and he should be leant across his desk toards Antonio and Bassanio. This portray’s that he is very wound up about the situation and that he hates it. Also by now his gestures should be over the top and his voice should be much louder, clearer and his speach should be faster.

  14. Georgia

    Revenge is shown significantly in the court scene, between Antonio and Shylock. Moreover, in this part of the play Shylock is seen as the villain and Antionio is shown to be the victim. Antonio has lost all his ships at see and therefore cannot pay back Shylock; therefore the pound of flesh has to be taken, which would have caused Antonio to die. However, this was not the case, due to Nerissa and Portia Antonio lives.

    In addition, Shylock thinks that he is going to be the one that turns out to be the correct one and thinks he will go away with his money. However, this is not the case. The bond is re-read and it states that no blood can be drawn, therefore a pound of flesh cannot be taken. Aswell as other factors from the bond that Portia investigates, it causes Shylock to face consequences and Antonio turns out to be fine. In the end, Shlock is forced to do many things, one being converting to a Christian, therefore leaving his jewish religion behind. Revenge is eveident here; Antonio has got his revenge over Shylock that he has been wanting for ages. Shylock is always the person that gets his revenge through other people. he dosn’t like it when Antionio gets revenge over him.

    The relationship between Shylock and the rest of the characters, mainly Antonio, is very negative and dosn’t really exist. This is mainly due to religious factors, moreover Antionio and Bassanio are Christians and Shylock is a Jew. At this time, Jewish people were hated by most and this contributed to the poor relationship between the characters.


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