Figure 33: Essay Excerpt on Shylock’s Conversion, The Merchant of Venice

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Not Entirely.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “N” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Figure 33: Essay Excerpt on Shylock’s Conversion, The Merchant of Venice

Shylock’s conversion from Jew to Christian at the end of the play is not entirely of his own inclination. The sentiment of the play suggests a critical view of the Jewish religion and that the Christian faith is altogether merciful and compromising. Shylock is forced to conform to the judgment of Portia, or better yet, Christian law. In leaving his own faith, Shylock experiences a loss spiritually as well as financially. Other characters also experience different conversions related to Shylock’s.

As students, we oftentimes begin the task of writing by using a summary to get us started. This is a method we use to help us understand what is going on “overall” in the work; but where we go wrong is when we mingle the general with specific. The bolded sentences within Figure 33 illustrate this case of mixing general ideas with context-specific actions.

The play is not symbolic of a critical view of one religion in comparison to another. Within the play, there may be characters who criticize the Jewish religion and who may believe that followers of the Christian faith are more longsuffering, but the play itself doesn’t suggest this. The attitude of the characters suggests this.

It is a funny thing, the word. Just one word can change the meaning of a sentence; and the choice of a certain construction of a sentence can also change the meaning dramatically. For example, it is not the sentiment of the play that suggests a critical view (discriminating) toward one religion in support of another. It is the sentiment of the characters who favor one religion over another.

Therefore, don’t allow a general view to supplant a specific point you want to make.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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