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Word Count: 603
The Merchant of Venice is a play known for its characters for the cunning and irascible Shylock for the mischievous youthful lovers and for its surprising views on Jews and culture in the Elizabethan era When read however one discovers that there is much more to the play than its marketable traits There are three pivotal plots which intertwine in the play the ring the caskets and the pound of flesh The ring is perhaps the most easily overlooked object in the play It was given to the bachelor Shylock by Leah Jessicas mother and though it is only mentioned briefly its significance is great When Shylock learns that his daughter Jessica has stolen the ring and traded it for a monkey he expresses poignant and eloquent grief for its loss I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys IIIi101-2 This vulnerability and humanity is startlingly uncharacteristic for the readers view of Shylock and we are surprised to witness him feeling human emotions aside from anger and greed For us to view Shylock as inhuman we must do so in the face of this evidence that he can both love and mourn The contest of the caskets - gold silver and lead - is a representation of the culture and laws of Venice The contest is open to all men from all nationalities and religions who wish to seek Portias hand in marriage just as the city of Venice is one of wealth business and opportunity for all - Christian or Jew - to seek a fortune Each of the caskets bears an inscription the gold casket says Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire IIvii5 the silver casket says Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves IIvii7 and the lead casket - the correct casket - warns that one must risk everything to open it The rules and lessons of the contest maintain that desire is
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