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A Little About Me

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aMerchant of Venice

Essay Guidelines

There are many thematic threads running through this profound play. Shakespeare paints a dark picture of human nature with occasional glimpses of light or hope for a better tomorrow. Look carefully at the following ideas as they have been presented in the story. Select one of them on which to base your essay.

The theme of forgiveness as demonstrated in the play

Portia's role in the story both as Bassanio's lover and the "doctor" at the trial

Tracing the many bonds made and broken in the play

The role of law in the play

Acts of betrayal seen in the play

What is society's responsibility for its attitudes and treatment of its members vs the individual's responsibility for his/her own attitudes and treatment of others? What effect does this problem have on and in the play? What role does the actual history of the time play?

In preparation for the essay, create a theme chart and include quotes that will help support your ideas in the context of your chosen topic.

Major plot:



Bonds (made and broken):


"What do Men Value?"

A final look...

Those things outside of man

Those things within man

Expressions of creative genius

Expressions of oppression and repression

The "birthing" process of new ideas and a "rebirthing" of old ideas

"There are no new ideas, only new people looking at old ideas" - Something to think about...

The theater is the first performing art to incorporate all strands into one presentation. Shakespeare is the most effective playwright in using the values of man to give a window as well as a mirror to that which is mankind. Using a primary theme from The Merchant of Venice, discuss how this play not only addresses that theme through its characters and action, but gives us evidence of the far-reaching outcomes based on the values from societies which have come before. What have we learned about our own values and their potential outcomes?



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