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Creations of William Shakespeare have been exciting many generations across all












imagination. One of the most disputable plays by William Shakespeare is “The Merchant of

Venice”. The play contains the flavor of comedy and the taste of tragedy. The master’s hand

had wonderfully combined both these types in the short masterpiece. “If history is any judge,

the crucial problem in staging The Merchant of Venice is how to balance its two distinct and

seemingly unrelated plots” (Bulman, p. 1). The best way to decide whether we should take is

as a tragedy or comedy is to analyze the entire play and how comedy and tragedy prevail over

each other.

The form of drama, which is tragedy, is some kind of depiction of human suffering

and conveys its power by means of human emotions, through viewing or reading. The

tragedy of the play covers many aspects of human relations, where catastrophe is not the

result of some accident, but is evolved by essential traits of key characters that interact and

significantly influence each other. The Merchant of Venice greatly impress by the number of

dramatic scenes. These scenes reveal the darkest corners of one character and the sufferings

of another, influenced by injustice and volatile human intentions. The well known speech by

Shylock in Act III, scene 1discloses the idea:

“I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses,

affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same

diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a

Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you

poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the

rest, we will resemble you in that” (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, p. 400-



Here the theme of prejudice is revealed in the most tragic, and as a matter of fact,

realistic manner. In the play, Christians assume that they are representatives of a higher class

of human beings and nobler than Jews. But Shylock gives a good explanation of how

delusive the difference is. At the same time, the villainous character of Shylock made him the

person, which is a master of his own misfortunes. By the end of the play Christians and

Shylock have lessons to reconsider their understanding of human relations. Unforgettable is

also the speech

by Portia in


IV, scene 1: “The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath: it is twice blest…” (The

Complete Works of William Shakespeare, p. 408-409 ). Here oratory means empower the

subject of mercy that should be given freely to the person in a great need for it. Here we find

personal traits of main character and the tragedy of their effect in practice.

Comedy is the genre that is primarily intends to be humorous or amusing. Generally,

it is connected with the human sense of humor, where wide audience will have something to











characters, struggle of young people in love over various difficulties, clever heroes and re-

unification scenes. In comedies Shakespeare emphasizes the situation rather than characters.

In The Merchant of Venice many serious issues are discussed with some kind of irony and

parody, including slapstick and misidentification. Good examples of comedy in the merchant

of Venice are the scenes with Launcelot Gobbo with all his exaggerated movements, misuse

of words and misidentification of his son. Parody and irony is seen throughout the play in

scenes with Potria and Nerissa, Antonio and Bassiano. As a matter of fact, the play was

presented at the time when Jews were tyrannized in England. The mocking on Jews at those

times and today has different consequences for the audience’s reaction. In some scenes we


see tragedy and in some comedy, and the same idea is good for different people – some laugh

and some dread.

Thus, taking into account tragic and comic elements of the play, it can be viewed as

tragicomedy, where two different aspects blend into one integrity. It contains enough

elements to entertain audience and dramatic scenes of vital significance.


Works Cited

Bulman, James C. The Merchant of Venice. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press,


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1994.