Sample Essay Outlines
The following paper topics are based on the entire play. Following each topic is a thesis and a sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.
Much of the plot of The Merchant of Venice is generated by contractual obligations. These take the form of legally binding contracts, such as the bond between Antonio and Shylock, as well as less formal arrangements, such as the ring given by Portia to Bassanio. Examine the way the individual will is forced to negotiate with external demands.
I. Thesis Statement: One of the major conflicts illustrated in The Merchant of Venice is the struggle of the individual will against the imposed obligations of society. This struggle is primarily manifested through the various contracts characters must fulfill throughout the course of the play.
II. Act I
A. Bassanio owes Antonio money and seeks to repay his debt by marrying Portia, a wealthy heiress.
B. Portia must marry whoever can solve the riddle of the three caskets, as specified in her late father’s will.
C. Many of Portia’s suitors give up their attempt to win her hand, unwilling to abide by the strict consequences of her father’s will.
D. Antonio, in the past, has helped people escape the consequences of their contracts with Shylock, the usurer, by lending them money at no interest.
E. Antonio must sign a bond promising to sacrifice a pound of his...
(The entire section is 2362 words.)
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