Dramatic Impact of Role Reversal in Act 3 Scene 3 of 'The Merchant of Venice'

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The Merchant of Venice

Essay Question: Discuss the dramatic impact of the role reversal between Antonio and Shylock in Act 3 scene 3 in relation to the rest of the play.

The Merchant of Venice was written by William Shakespeare, and was written between 1596 and 1598. In the Elizabethan era there was huge demand for new entertainment, so The Merchant of Venice would have been produced almost immediately after the completion of the play. It is also believed that Christopher Marlowe’s play; ‘The Jew of Malta’ was a major influence to Shakespeare when writing The Merchant of Venice.
The ‘Jew of Malta’, written by Christopher Marlowe, was probably written between 1589 and 1590. It is an original story of religious conflict, Intrigue and revenge. The play opens with a prologue narrated by Machiavelli, much hated by Elizabethan England, which introduces “the tragedy of a Jew”. The play is filled with blood and murder, which was a favourable topic of the Elizabethan audiences who embraced the bloody revenge tragedies of the period. The title character, Barabas the Jew, is a complex character likely to provoke mixed reactions from the audience. The image of a Jew, in this play, being a greedy usurer was a common image in the English theatre. For a modern audience, however, the visible stereotyping of Jews, with its accompanying images of the destructive force of anti-Semitism, often offends the audience. Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is much like ‘The Jew of Malta’.
Bassanio is in love with the rich heiress Portia and wants to travel to Belmont to woo her. However, he is in debt and is unable to pay the money to go to Belmont. Antonio offers to lend Bassanio the money, but he too doesn’t have the money and has to face his enemy, Shylock, asking if he can borrow the money. He borrows the money ‘gratis’, which is without interest because it is against his religion
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