The Merchant of Venice – Essay Plan

Shylock’s prejudice spurs him to his inevitable fate. Discuss.

• Title, playwright, date.
• Gist of play – main characters and main conflict.
• Significance Shylock’s prejudice.
• Intention of the essay.

Summary of the text:
• The bond
• Jessica’s escape
• Casket lottery
• The loss of the ring
• Shylock’s revenge
• Shylock’s ruin

Para 1:
• The actions of the Christians
• Venetian society
Key references:
• Spitting on Shylock
• Call him names
• “Stole” his daughter
• Behaviour in court – “I expect a gentle answer”
• His punishment

Para 2:
• Shylock’s greed
Key references:
• Caring more about his money than Jessica
• His desire for the bond
• His relationship with Jessica
• His desire for Antonio’s boats to sink

Para 3:
• The inevitability of the bond being forfeit
Key references:
• The play would not function without it
• The bond relied on chance/ luck
• Repetition of Antonio’s confidence – hubris

Para 4:
• The role of Portia in court
Key references:
• She favours Antonio
• Prejudice against women? Dress as men
• She tricks Shylock – ties him to his word
• She plays on his prejudice

Para 5:
• Are there any unprejudiced characters?

This essay is about sympathy and the way Shakespeare plays with the emotions of the audience.

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