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Please give me suggestions on how to improve this essay based on Shylock from The...

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rainbow224 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM via web

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Please give me suggestions on how to improve this essay based on Shylock from The Merchant of Venice.

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I would like to share the mournful real life of a boy, who was tormented in every way as everything precious to him was taken away. This is my story.  My mother taught many things. Whether it was (a) practical advice or ethical, her wise words gave me something to live by and to believe in. Without even realising it, her voice became those words inside my head, and her theory became those I shared with many other people and friends. She was the bank where I deposited all my hurts and worries. After being harassed by other Christian boys when I was a little boy, she would comfort me in her arms and tell me that all worries would pass. That’s all I needed; acceptance and warmth. She brought the sunshine in the house, made it pleasure being there. She was my teacher, adviser and the greatest inspiration when I needed it. She understood what I could not say. She acted both as a mother and a father after my father’s death. 

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My father died due to overwork. He was a Jew without opportunities so he strived at every menial job possible that would earn him money, just to keep his family alive. After his death, mother attempted not to show how lonely and depressed she was, so I would not be affected in anyway. Even so, I was lonely at times, wanting my father back. Not too long after, my mother followed him. While she was attending the synagogue, a group of Venetian Christians burnt down the building, they even dishonoured those Jews in death; they burned my mother’s body. They did not even leave her body to be buried with dignity. Everything that I treasured was taken away from me.  I was a frozen soul with just a heart that beats. I blocked my emotions, thoughts, did not even shed tears. I came to hate this society. I hated the place I live in; it is full of memories I wanted to forget. I was traumatised, dead. My life became a graveyard of buried hopes.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 30, 2013 at 6:37 PM (Answer #1)

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The characters in The Merchant of Venice have agendas that reveal their selfish natures.

Antonio will do anything for Bassanio, his friend, and he appears to be a kind considerate person but sometimes his actions towards others - particularly Shylock - belie his true feelings and his apparent prejudice against Jews. He is not merciful as expected and perhaps Shylock did learn his "villainy" from Antonio. 

Bassanio - at first certainly - wants to marry Portia because she is wealthy; Jessica wants to upset her father and hurt him so deeply, she will renounce her religion, sell a precious family ring and marry a man her father would not approve of. Shylock is no different; he wants his "pound of flesh! "

In these paragraphs, you have discussed the harsh reality for a child and so, rather than focusing on his "Jewishness," the reader will be able to sympathize with Shylock. There is focus in your paragraphs to allow the reader to understand your message.

To be cautious and retain the sympathy of the reader, I would perhaps remove the word "Christian" from "a group of Venetian Christians " and rather refer to a group of "Venetians. " The reader will be shocked that anyone could do such as thing. If you refer to them as "Venetian Christians," they will simply not believe that what you say could possibly be true!  Any connection that you have made with them could be lost.

Keep up the good work!



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