Language and Structure in The Merchant of Venice Flashcards

How is ‘The Merchant of Venice’ classified as a genre?

‘The Merchant of Venice’ is classified as a comedy, featuring traits such as young lovers overcoming obstacles, the use of disguise, the presence of a villain, and marriages with a happy ending.

How does ‘The Merchant of Venice’ deviate from a typical Shakespearean comedy?

The lovers marry midway through the play, shifting focus to Shylock and Antonio. Shylock is portrayed as a complex and sympathetic villain, and modern audiences often feel uncomfortable with his downfall due to the anti-Semitic prejudice he faces.

What is the five-act structure in ‘The Merchant of Venice’?

• Exposition: Introduces characters and plot lines.
• Rising Action: Plots intertwine, escalating tensions.
• Climax: Shylock demands his pound of flesh.
• Falling Action: Courtroom drama and resolution.
• Resolution: Lovers reunite, disguises revealed, and Antonio’s wealth restored.

How does Shakespeare use prose and verse in ‘The Merchant of Venice’?

Prose is used for uneducated, working-class characters or informal dialogue. Verse is used for educated, higher-class characters. Subtle shifts occur to reflect the emotional tone or subject matter of the conversation.

Give an example of humour in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

Portia humorously critiques her suitors, such as mocking one who “doth nothing but talk of his horse” and jesting that she would “rather be married to a death’s-head” than any of her past suitors.

What is an example of dramatic irony in ‘The Merchant of Venice’?

Portia disguises herself as a male lawyer to save Antonio. The audience knows her true identity, but other characters, including Bassanio, do not. Bassanio unknowingly declares his willingness to sacrifice everything, including his wife, directly to Portia.

How is foreshadowing used in ‘The Merchant of Venice’?

Antonio’s unexplained sadness at the beginning foreshadows his later pain. Portia’s mention of the “scroll of fortune” hints at the significance of the casket test in determining her future husband.

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