Deceptive Intentions - Analysis on "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare

Essay by di1987High School, 10th gradeA-, May 2004

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In life, things are not always what they seem. People may appear to be one way but turn out to be an entirely different. The romantic-comedy, The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, shows the deliberate use of deception by the characters. Deception is a tool that is used for many purposes. The purposes can be harmful, protective or for personal gain. In The Merchant of Venice, Portia, Jessica, and Shylock are all characters who use deception to carry out their own motives.

Shylock, the hated Jew, makes his living through the practice of usury and uses deception when Antonio asks to borrow money from him. Shylock agrees to lend Antonio three hundred ducats if Antonio is willing to sign a bond that would allow Shylock to have "an equal pound of [his] fair flesh"(I, iii, 145-146). He expresses the bond "in a merry sport"(I, iii, 141) and uses this bond to also show that "[he] would be friends with [Antonio], and have [his] love"(I, iii, 134).

Though Shylock's description of the conditions in the bond makes it seem as if Shylock does not mean harm, his intentions are to harm and humiliate Antonio. Antonio says that "[he] neither lend[s] nor borrow[s] by talking nor by giving of excess"(I, iii, 57-58) and is willing to do that for his dear friend, Bassanio. At first, Antonio is not blinded Shylock's friendly pretence, aware that Shylock "is like a villain with a smiling face [and] a goodly apple rotten at the heart"(I, iii, 96-97). However, in the end Antonio accepts the terms of the bond. The cruel use of deception from Shylock is to help fulfill his intention of revenge against Antonio.

The deliberate use of cruelness in falsehood is also shown in Shylock's own daughter, Jessica. Jessica runs...