Merchant Of Venice By Shakespeare In this world, there are many aspects of blindness whether it is mentally or physically. Either way, each blindness brings out the disability in each person. Such portrayal was shown throughout the play The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare presents more than one form of blindness, which complicates the social order of the society, and I feel that the blindness, being their imperfection, creates tension between characters, which is weakened by blindness. When the characters are being blind, they are corrupted by their actions and somehow they do not care who they are hurting as long as they know they are getting the best out of something.
Whether it being valuables, love, power, or respect. Physical and mental blindness are seen throughout this play. They play a part in each characters daily lives and are the obstacle that prevents happiness. Old Gobbo, who is Launcelots blind and feeble father, expresses physical and mental blindness when he approaches Launcelot and surprisingly asks him, “Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jews?” (Pg. 21, lines 29-30) for he was looking for his son, Launcelot.
Surprisingly Old Gobbo did not know that he was speaking to his son. Old Gobbo is nearly blind, which is the physical part of the blindness, which was one of the reasons why he unable to recognize Launcelots features. He is also mentally blind because a father should recognize his own sons voice. Launcelot briefly jokes with his father before confessing “[he is] Launcelot [his] boy that was, [his] son that is, [his] child that shall be,” (Pg. 22, lines 78-79) but Old Gobbo still “cannot think [he is his] son” (Pg.
22, line 80). Launcelot convinces himself that “if [his father] had [his] eyes, [he] might fail of knowing [him]” because “it is a wise father that knows his own child” (Pg. 22, lines 70-71). It is a shame that a father cannot recognize his own flesh and blood. This blindness concerns the relationship of a father and their child.
Another blindness that concerns the relationship between a father and the child would have been between Portia and her dead father. Portia, the heroine of The Merchant of Venice, is forced to marry the suitor who chooses the correct casket left by her deceased father. When the Prince of Morocco, one of Portias suitors, comes to Belmont to woo Portia, he daringly takes the test of choosing the correct casket. He accepts the consequences that if he fails, he was to “never to speak to [a] lady afterward in [the] way of marriage” (g. 19, lines 43-44). He blindly chooses the gold casket with the engraving “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire” (Pg. 35, line 37), for its appearance.
Inside the gold casket contained a skull “within [its] empty eye there [was] a written scroll” (Pg. 36, lines 64-65), which said that the Prince of Morocco was not wise. He overlooks the reality that not everything that seems valuable is good. The Prince of Arragon, another suitor who hopes to win Portias hand, also repeats the similar incident of choosing the wrong casket. He accepts the terms as well, but instead of choosing the gold casket for value he chooses the silver casket with the engraving “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves” (Pg.
40, line 51). Inside the silver casket contains a “portrait of a blinking idiot” (Pg. 41, line 56) and a schedule saying that he was a fool for choosing silver. Both princes are being physically blind by appearances which leaves them empty handed and single for the rest of their lives. Physical and mental blindness takes a dramatic effect with Launcelot and his father and both princes because it affects the way they think and the way they act, which prevents them from being happy.
Shakespeare presents blindness as a problem to the society in his play. Many people did not see how there was many problems concerning their relationship between other people. In the blindness of religion, he has the characters seeing the worst in religions that they do not believe in. He describes how Jews are unwanted in Venice, which was at that time a society of Christians. For Shylock, who is an illegal Jewish moneylender in Venice, many Christians despise him for his religious beliefs and the interest he places upon people who loan money from him.
He as well holds contempt with Christians, but he still does business with them because his life revolves around the interest received by them. His former employee, Launcelot, calls the Jew “the very devil incarnation” (Pg. 20, line 24) because he was a Christian employed by a Jew. The characters in the play treat Shylock badly because he is different and they do not respect him because he is not one of them. The people who misjudge him are being blind by how bad they are.
They are judging him as the villain, but it is blindness that is the villain. The law in Venice was capable of changing a persons religion by force. This shows how people did not care for others except for what they thought was right. Blinded by their stubborn ways, they feel that different ways are bad. For example, the Jewish Shylock has such a negative reputation in this society that in the end of the trial between him and Antonio, who is the merchant of Venice, Antonio says “that, for this favor, [Shylock] presently become a Christian.” (Pg.
79, lines 399-400) In response to Antonios words, “[Shylock was] content.” (Pg. 79, line 407) This shows how blindness made no religious tolerance in Venice and that Shylock did not care much about his religion when it comes to his life being in jeopardy. In contrast of forced religion, Jessica, Shylocks daughter, willingly becomes a Christian, for she “shall be saved by [her] husband (Lorenzo). He hath made [her] a Christian” (Pg. 63, lines 17-18). Launcelot also jokingly tells her that “making of Christians will raise the price of hogs” (Pg.
63, lines 21-22). The reason why Jessica converts to Christianity is because she was unhappy being a Jew, feeling that it brought despair and grief for her. There are times when a religion is not fulfilling to a persons religious need. In Jessicas case, she feels that Christianity has more to offer than staying a Jew. During the plays time, which was the age of Renaissance, blindness was a common flaw and was seen throughout its society. Men were blind toward women because they did not see how they were treating women.
The men deliberately prevented women from accomplishing anything that the men were able to do. Women did not have the rights they wanted, such as self-worth, respect, privileges, and equality, and Shakespeare seems to not show any signs of the women wanting respect. If he did show any signs of women wanting respect, he would not of had the women cross-dress. Instead, they would attend the trial portraying their real gender. Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica disguise themselves as men to have the same equal opportunity to walk around in public with the same respect as men. Portia and Nerissa concealed themselves as …