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With reference to Jessica's fleeing in The Merchant of Venice, how can the student...

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sajjad1476 | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 22, 2013 at 9:11 AM via web

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With reference to Jessica's fleeing in The Merchant of Venice, how can the student compose Shylock's letter to his daughter Jessica? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Since the educators at Enotes do not write compositions for students, the student will need to perform this action himself.  However, we do offer suggestions for the manner in which the composition is to be written.  Therefore, here are some points to consider in the composing of a letter from Shylock to his daughter, Jessica:

  • Consider the character of Shylock that should be evinced in his letter:  He is both a serious and a comic character, who is in each part of his personality a negative force as he seeks revenge and comically attempts to stop the celebrations of youth. So, you will wish to adopt a negative tone in this letter.
  • Shylock is a selfish man, whose greed and self-interest supersede any paternal affections.
  • Consider the betrayals of Jessica:  She has become a Christian, and she has stolen her father's money and squandered it. 

Shylock's greed and his sense of insult that his daughter has become a Christian may well form the content of the letter. For instance, Shylock may yet retain his anger about her theft of money and jewels--

I would my daughter

were dead at my foot (3.1.)

--but, on the other hand, he may appeal to her to come to his aid by returning any of her mother's jewels that she yet possesses. And, in reference to Jessica's declaration in Scene 3 of Act III,

I shall end this strife

Become a Christian and thy (Lorenzo) loving wife

Shylock may try to turn her words back upon Jessica, imploring her to "end this strife" between him and her so that he has some refuge in case he needs one.  Perhaps, too, in his plea to Jessica to return, there can be some comical elements such as making his reasons somewhat ridiculous.  After all, he foolishly refuse to display any compassion for Antonio and "yield to Christian intercessors" (3.2. 15-16).

 

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