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Williams Shakespeare’s Play Merchant of Venice

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This paper will study the role of the women in Williams Shakespeare’s  play The Merchant of Venice. Through contextualizing the characters of Portia, Nerissa and Jessica within the world of early modern England in which the ideal women was quiet, obedient, and they had no individual freedom, married women belonged to their husband, and before they were married they were governed by their parents. This study will finds out the ways in which these characters do not adapt to traditional renaissance values regarding the role of women as daughters and wives.


 The main data will be from the play context and by using historical documents such as behavioral

manuals, and “defenses” of women from the late sixteenth and seventeenth century, So that more will be known about the ways in which Shakespeare’s female characters challenge traditional social norms.

 This paper concludes that Shakespeare purposely challenges strict social views put forward on women by creating female characters who challenge male authority and are celebrated for their behavior. Jessica is Shylock's only daughter; her character and manner, specifically according to Shylock's influence and training; has a very great difference with Portia's home-influence. Jessica innately had all the elements of a very lovely womanhood; but she needs to receive training in order to develop them to anything like perfection. Although Shylock’s evil influence had failed to destroy to a really dangerous extent her innate truth and purity, yet it had had such an effect upon her character as to make it perfectly easy and natural to her to deceive and desert her unloving father, who always had numerous injunctions against her actions and   made her home a hell, and to prefer her Christian lover to her own father. True to the precepts which had been told in her ears through her whole life, she has taken some of her father's jewels and gold. Though this general principle has been imparted to her by Shylock, she has failed to learn the lesson of the value of money; and she spends his hard-earned ducats with a freedom and recklessness that is severe torture to her covetous father



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