Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice

As to the topic, I’d like you to follow a format. I call it the “repeated element.” Your introduction should do the following:1. Briefly describe an important moment or element in the play: this might be a gesture, like challenging someone, vowing something, giving a ring, etc.; it might be an image or a description, such as honor, horses, or music. You might find a repeated plot element or motif, such as the appearance of someone or something, or their loss, etc.2. Describe a second instance of this later in the play.3. Provide an argument about these: that is, some kind of statement about why it’s important thematically (beyond the plot!) to see the differences here. The difference might be actual differences, or a different context (different character uses the image, or at a different time, or to mean a different thing, etc.).Here’s a 5-sentence “introduction” that should serve as an example (you may not use this as a paper topic). Observe in the 1, 2, and 3 how this introduction follows the contours of the assignment:At the conclusion of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, after the main threats seem to have been resolved and all is well, Portia demands her wedding ring of Bassanio. Assured that he cannot produce it, since he unknowingly gave it to her in the previous scene, Portia mocks her new husband, insisting she will sleep with whoever shows her the ring: if such a man can display the sign of a spouse, he can occupy his place, even the most intimate of places. [1. I’ve identified the precise place in terms of plot, and I’ve introduced the stakes: infidelity.] Thus Portia has some fun at the expense of Bassanio, but in the joke Shakespeare has a larger point to make. [2. “larger point”] Throughout, the play has been preaching the value of immaterial bonds over material ones. Portia continues that idea by demonstrating a risk of putting too much weight in a visible sign, in this case the ring. At the same time, the risk of cuckoldry is a common anxiety in Shakespearean drama and in Elizabethan culture; in jokingly alluding to the possibility of infidelity, Portia both affirms the preeminence of the invisible bond between husband and wife and insists that, important as such bonds are, the material body has its own value. [3. And there’s why I think the moment is significant.] In the end, the body might not be quite as important as more abstract ideals, but the threats to physical integrity that run through the play remind us that however much we might privilege our souls and spirits, they remain dependent on our physical beings.Observe the structure: 1) I situate my reader at a precise moment and I mention what’s significant about it—marital fidelity is at risk; 2) I point out that there’s an issue here that goes beyond the precise movement, a “larger point”; 3) I explain what the problem shows us, in this case how the play balances the emphasis with spirit with a concern for the physcial body. Now, some sections:1. Balthassar demands the ring of Bassanio, and he gives it: Antonio’s love v. a wife’s “commandment”2. Bassanio and Portia’s Act 5 exchange (and probably connections to the vows at the initial ring giving)3. How the play elevates spirit over flesh–love against Shylock’s “bond” secured by flesh4. Places the play puts flesh in jeopardy5. Conclusion, with Graziano’s remarks about Nerissa’s ring

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