Act 5, Scene 1 Evaluate the atmosphere at the end of the play, taking into account the following : - the marriage of Bassanio and Portia - the marriage of Gratiano and Nerissa - the marriage of Lorenzo and Jessica - the situation of Antonio - the situation of Shylock

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Shakespeare provides “The Merchant of Venice” with what seems like a fairytale ending but upon closer inspection things are not quite as happy as they appear. Act 5 opens in Belmont with the scene between Lorenzo and Jessica as they comment on the night and try to one-up...

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Shakespeare provides “The Merchant of Venice” with what seems like a fairytale ending but upon closer inspection things are not quite as happy as they appear. Act 5 opens in Belmont with the scene between Lorenzo and Jessica as they comment on the night and try to one-up each other with their verses. It seems happy and light, but then Lorenzo gets a bit short with Jessica, calling her a shrew, and Jessica herself begins to recall the Greek story of Medea and her father Aeson, a story that seems to indicate that her thoughts are drifting back to her own father. Their marriage already seems to be fraying, if only a little.

In the same way, Gratiano and Nerissa and Bassanio and Portia get their hearts’ desire and marry the love of their lives but there's still a little bit of squabbling and mistrust in their relationships. The matter of the rings and who owns them gets a little bit heated. Not to mention we're left with Antonio who is in the very strange position of being the odd man out among the happy couples. What does he do now, exactly? Return to Venice and carry on? Stay with Bassanio and Portia in Belmont? That could certainly get awkward. He’s lucky enough to have escaped the trial with his life but what that life is actually going to consist of is not clear at all.

At last there's Shylock. We don't see him again in the play after the trial scene, but his fate hangs over Act 5. He’s lost his material wealth, he is broken and defeated and his religious identity has been stripped from him in a forced conversion. It seems unlikely that he and Jessica will ever see each other again. Shakespeare has left a lot of unfinished business in the lives of these characters. Before there is any real resolution, the play ends.

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