How does Shakespeare make the famous speech of Shylock in Act III, Scene 1 in The Merchant of Venice dramatically memorable?   

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huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Shakespeare makes Shylock's speech particularly memorable through the clever use of multiple rhetorical devices. 

  • asyndeton (listing items without using conjunctions). Consider: 

He hath disgraced me, and

hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,

mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies....

This technique of delivery places equal emphasis on each item in the list. 

  • anaphora (repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis): 

Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,

dimensions, senses, affections, passions....

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge?

Both of these also use rhetorical questions,not intended to be answered, as the answers should be obvious.  

  • Simple parallelism, which gives it balance and rhythm: 

fed with

the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is?

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