1. Betrayal and revenge 2.
Metaphors of death-King Lear, Merchant of Venice, Othello 3. Humor- A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It 4. Pastoral settings- Ling Lear, A midnight Summer’s Dream 5. Madness and insanity- Othello, Midnight Summer?s Dream, King Lear 6. Reversal- the main character falls from a high place 7. Letters- King Lear, Merchant of Venice 8.
Things are not as they appear- King Lear, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night?s Dream 9. The Father/Daughter Conflict-Midsummer, King Lear, Merchant of Venice 10. Justice- King Lear, Merchant of VeniceThe Father/Daughter Conflict- In Midnight Summers Dream, Egeus commands Hermia, his daughter, to wed Demetrius, whom she does not love. Against the advisement of the Duke Theseus, who recommends that, ”To you your father should be as a god”, (Act I, Scene I, Line 48). Hermia wishes to marry Lysander. Egeus threatens his daughter with the penalty of death or exile.
In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock?s daughter, Jessica, denies her faith and steals from her father in order to marry Lorenzo, a man of whom she is unequally yoked. In King Lear, the title character, ruler of Britain, attempts to divide his kingdom according to the profession of love by his three daughters: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Goneril and Regan profess undying love choosing the most melodic words, while Cordelia is speechless at the task, stating:. . .
. . . . . .
. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave . . .
. . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . .
. . My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty . .
. . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . According to my bond; nor more nor less. (Lines 93-95) King Lear becomes angry with Cordelia and banishes her.
The other daughters begin to treat him viciously, Goneril slapping him at one point. Letters- Shakespeare uses letters as characters in the plays that serve to tie key factors together for cohesion and clarity. In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses a letter from Antonio to bring the culmination of events to a head at the end of the play, setting the stage for the courtroom scene. Antonio writes, “my ships have all miscarried”(314) He tells his friend of his troubles and beckons him to come see him one last time as he ultimately gives his life for his friend?s debt.
If Bassanio does not go to the court proceedings, then his wife Portia has no cause to be in the court scene, which leads to Antonio?s exoneration. The letter also serves as a vehicle to let the audience know once again that Shylock, ?The Jew? is the villain in the play. It is not by accident that he is mentioned in the letter in this way. In King Lear, Goneril plots to kill her husband through a letter to Edmund delivered by Oswald. Edmund frames his brother Edgar with a letter that appears to conspire to kill Gloucester, their father.
It is here that the audience sees how conniving and calculated Edmund really is and there is no room for sympathy of the character. Things are not as they appear- Disguises are tools William Shakespeare uses to hide or mask inner and outer appearances. In The Merchant of Venice, disguises are used throughout the play by different characters for varied reasons. The ?lottery of the caskets? in Merchant of Venice is an excellent example the theme; Things are not as they appear. Portia?s suitors must choose from caskets of gold, silver, and lead in order to win her hand in marriage.
The choice of the lead casket not only wins the fair Portia, but it is also indicate the suitor is intelligent and of substance: not superficial and materialistic. Raised as a Jew, Jessica disguises herself as a pageboy to cover up her identity and embark on a forbidden marriage to Lorenzo, a Christian. This act of defiance refuses her not only her religion, but also her father, Shylock, a Jewish usurer. At the introduction of Jessica?s character, the audience may be inclined to pity the daughter of the main villain in the play, who is accused of greed and usury; however, at a closer look, Jessica is found to embody the same greedy characteristics, indicated by her theft of a precious ring given to her father by her mother. While appearing meek and compliant, she is assertive and defiant, signified by not only the elopement but also the way the escape was orchestrated: vindictive and defiant. Shakespeare opens King Lear with deception and disguise.
Lear?s daughters, Goneril and Reagan, hide their contempt for their father under the guise of loving words. This, the inciting incident, sets the third daughter, Cordelia, up to either follow suit with the mal-intended flattery, or suffer banishment: she chooses the latter leading to the catastrophic events that follow. Shakespeare also uses disguises to give characters help from persons they would not normally accept aid from. This is the case when the Earl of Kent, in King Lear, disguises himself as Tom the Bedlam Beggar, and under this guise, provides protection from the mentally deteriorating Lear. In Midsummer Night?s Dream, Shakespeare explores the idea of exterior and form versus actuality and truth, made clear through the intermingling of characters. The fairies manipulate appearance and reality for their prankish pleasure planned primarily by Puck.
Puck sprinkles love around loosely, turning lovers to loathers and vice versa. Reality is masked by deception. The characters do not know they are under a spell, and therefore their perception of reality is actually the deception of the fairies and their ill deeds. Justice- Shakespeare typically culminates his plays with justice being served to the villain. In King Lear, Gloucester alludes to the question of whether or not the world is just when he says, ?As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport. ? The play ends with the wicked dying in the flesh or in their state of comfort.
Some critics will argue that the play ends unjustly signified by the death of Cordeila. To those critics, I suggest that Cordelia?s life without her father would have been an unhappy one. She reflects in the first scene that it is this love and attachment that kept her celibate for so long. With the newly revived relationship and her father?s final recognition of Cordelia, she would not have been able to bear losing him again in the event of his demise. Although the image of Lear holding Cordelia seems horrific, it is actually quite pleasant to see that final image of him cradling Cordelia as a father would a beloved daughter.
Shylock?s ill deeds do not go unpunished in The Merchant of Venice. The climactic courtroom scene where Portia tricks the Jew into submission give credence to Shakespeare?s theme of justice throughout each play. As the audience stomachs through each act, watching Shylock?s moods shift from rage to self pity and eventually to the brink of lunacy, they anticipate justice being served to the ill-famed character. The fact that Shakespeare uses a woman to mastermind and in effect hand over the sentence, cemented by the male judge, is another part of justice being served in that Jessica, Shylock?s daughter, was unable to stand up to her father and speak against his will.