Shakespeare uses language that is both influential and passionate. He uses appropriate language for individual scenes. The reader becomes more attentive once the language becomes overpowering therefore they language that is being used interlocks with a specific scene. His verbal communication conveys his communication to the reader and remains in the mind, as the language is very controlling. Shakespeare’s language in ‘ The Merchant of Venice’ has different principles behind it that still remain in the modern day.
In the opening moments of Act I scene ii we witness Portia a rich heiress chatting to Nerissa her waiting maid. Portia, a lady of Belmont has to choose a suitor to woe her but before the suitor can have her hand in marriage he needs to choose between three caskets a lead, silver and gold casket, which her father who died left her. If he chooses the correct casket, he can then marry Portia but if he does not choose the correct casket, he is not able to woe Portia. Portia is a strong dominating woman who knows what she is dealing with but at times can’t handle it and this is where her servant comes in Nerissa, she is there to reassure her mistress and comfort her.
Shakespeare uses prose here so the atmosphere is unpretentious, liberated and tranquil. He introduces a special bond between Portia and Nerissa. Portia and Nerissa share a relationship, which isn’t the normal mistress, servant relationship but is one of which they are good friends and status does not come in between. Shakespeare reflects this when
Nerissa says ” superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
Portia ” Good sentences, and well pronounced.”
The language used informs the reader about this relationship, it gives the impression that Nerissa can provide Portia with advice and reassures her and Portia takes this advice on board.
Nerissa ” First there is the Neapolitan prince.”
Portia ” Ay that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse,” the language reflects on their relationship.
Shakespeare gives the audience background information therefore the can understand what is happening.
Nerissa ” Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations; therefore the lottery he hath deceived in these three chests of gold, silver and lead, whereof who chooses his meanings chooses you.”
In this scene, Shakespeare creates a friendly atmosphere between Portia and Nerissa even though Portia is a little tensed. The language used is luminosity and light hearted.
He incorporates a question and answer session between Portia and Nerissa; I think Shakespeare attempts to reflect the strength of their relationship in this scene.
Nerissa ” Then is there the County Palatine”
Portia ” He doth nothing but frown, as who should say,”
He captures the reader’s attention by using prose, as it is a different styled writing then the previous scene. He illustrates that Portia and Nerissa enjoy each others company and
that they rely on one another. They gossip about men, which Shakespeare includes to give the scene a modern day effect and one, which readers can connect with.
Nerissa ” How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?”
Portia “God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man”
Nerissa has a lot of thought for her mistress and respects her gratefully. She is there for Portia and reassures her when she is feeling insecure.
Nerissa “You need not fear, lady”
Shakespeare fully explains to the reader what is going on by using simple and delicate language to express Nerissa and Portia’s feeling and emotions towards each other. They are best of friends and consolidate their problems.
In Act III scene i Shakespeare makes use of powerful language, which dominates the whole scene. It reflects on the rage of Shylock, a Jew. Shylock is depressed because his daughter has run away with a Christian and has taken his wealth with her. Shylock is very faithful to his religion and ethnicity therefore is discriminated by the Christian because he is from a different race. Shakespeare gives us an insight to racial discrimination an issue that still occurs today.
The speech that Shakespeare wrote is a very famous speech because of its truth ness behind it. Shakespeare uses exceptional language to describe Shylocks fury.
” I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?”
Shylock is crying out his affections and emotions and Shakespeare describes these affections really well.
” Hath not a Jew organs, dimensions, senses, affections passions?”
Shakespeare exaggerates with the language and uses significant words
” If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
Shylock makes a significant statement of the human equality.
“If you poison us, will we not die?”
Shakespeare builds up the climax and tension till the very end of the speech. He reveals all at the end.
” And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
Shakespeare repeats “revenge” to emphasise his hurt towards his daughter and Antonio who he lent his money to. The speech is vibrant and the truth and nothing but the truth that it can’t be debatable.
” If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is the humility? Revenge”
The language William Shakespeare uses to describe Shylock in the opening moments of the play is totally different to what he is actually seen later in the play. This whole speech gives a whole different perspective of Shylock. Shylock is seen as cunning, ruthless and sly that cons people out and trap them into debt but we acknowledge a different surface to him. The stage directions inform us of his sanity “he weeps” and his words
“Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons”
Help reflect his human feelings and emotions.
News of his daughter adds to the venom. He can’t believe what his own flesh and blood had done to him.
” I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear!”
Shakespeare gives us some detail of Shylock in full depth of vulnerable humanity most notable at the detail of the turquoise.
Tubal ” One of them showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey”
Shylock ” Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal; it was my turquoise: I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.”
Shakespeare portrays that Shylock cares more for his wealth and jewels then his own flesh and blood. The language informs us that Shylock is still vivid and hasn’t calmed down.
” Would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin!”
But again, Shakespeare changes the language so the reader changes their mind again about Shylock
” No sigh but o’ my breathing, no tears but o’ my shedding”
Shakespeare still portrays Shylock with no emotion because when Shylock finds out about Antonio’s ship are still at sea and are not coming within the time limit he is overjoyed.
Tubal friend to Shylock ” I spoke with some sailors that escaped the wrack”
Shylock “I thank thee, Good Tubal. Good news, good news”
Shakespeare uses repetition of ‘Good news” to highlight Shylock’s enjoyment and happiness.
Shylock is a determined man who will not let his religion be undermined with his work. At first, he is the villain but Shakespeare hints of an alternative in which Shylock may be seen as poignant and an even tragic victim.
In Act V scene I Lorenzo and Jessica share a passion for each other. Jessica is Shylock’s daughter who eloped with Lorenzo a Christian as they were madly in love. Jessica ran away with her father’s jewels in order for Lorenzo to woe her.
Shakespeare dominates the scene with romantic language to ease off the tension in the previous scene.
Lorenzo ” The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,”
Jessica ” In such a night, / Did Thisbe fearfully o’ ertrip the dew,”
Shakespeare contrasts Jessica and Lorenzo’s relationship to classical lovers that once faced difficulties in their relationship.
“Stood Dido with a willow in her hand”
Other names that are mentioned are ‘ Troilus and Cressid, Thisbe and Pyramus and Dido and Aeneas’. These were mythical Greek gods and goddesses who possessed everything but later sacrificed everything just to obtain their love. Shakespeare compares Jessica and Lorenzo’s relationship to them because they have also faced problem but now have overcome them and have not considered the consequences.
Lorenzo ” In such a night / Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,”
Jessica ” In such a night / Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,”
Shakespeare again uses the question answer technique language for Lorenzo and Jessica to declare their love for one another.
Shakespeare uses poetry in this scene as poetry creates a romantic atmosphere and is very rhythmic.
Lorenzo ” How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank!”
Shakespeare also includes onomatopoeic sounds to make the scene more effective ” kiss the tree”
The stage direction tells us ‘ music begins’ this adds to the atmosphere creating a charming effect which helps produce a better image in your mind.
Jessica “I am never merry when I hear sweet music”
Lorenzo ” the reason is, your spirits are attentive:”
This scene helps your imagination go wild and the language Shakespeare uses helps produce an idyllic scene.
William Shakespeare use of prose and verse in these three sections illustrates the strength of the language. In Act I scene ii we distinguish Portia and Nerissa gossiping like women do it’s a unique relationship between a servant and mistress. Shakespeare uses prose here to reflect the relationship between the two women whereas in Act III scene i we witness a powerful scene where we spectator Shylock’s rage for being discriminated against his race and religion. The language is vibrant and vivid which makes it a memorable scene for the reader. It is written in prose but has poetic feel to it.
However in Act V scene i we observe Jessica and Lorenzo’s passion for each other. This scene has many adjectives, as it is very poetic. It is in verses therefore it gives an idyllic and tranquil scene and feel as though Jessica and Lorenzo are in a world of their own.
Shakespeare uses outstanding language to describe emotions, sincerity and judgment. He conveys his message by using significant language that the reader can connect with. He employs specific language for individual scenes therefore the language interlocks with every other scene. Shakespeare uses a variety of techniques to write his plays and each one has it own individuality. ‘ The Merchant of Venice’ was a book with complexity but William Shakespeare used his incredible techniques and was keen to clarify the complexity by the exceptional language he used to describe the characters emotions and feelings.