The Merchant of Venice, written in the late 16th century by William Shakespeare, is a comedy of romantic interest and business interests, and is one of his most popular works In the play, the main character, Bassanio, attempts to acquire a loan from his friend Antonio in order to pursue the hand of the wealthy Portia. Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, offers Antonio a deal that is too good to refuse - a pound of his flesh should he default on the loan. In the final scene, Portia, disguised as a lawyer, uses her wit to outsmart Shylock, and thus she saves Antonio from a literal death sentence.
The Merchant of Venice is a great source of discussion for students, as it contains several themes that can be explored. The following are five excellent Merchant of Venice essay topics that can be used to explore the play’s themes:
1. How does Shakespeare use the theme of justice in The Merchant of Venice?
2. Is Shylock a sympathetic character?
3. How does the play illustrate the role of gender in 16th century Venice?
4. How is the issue of religious prejudice addressed in the play?
5. Does Bassanio demonstrate any positive characteristics in The Merchant of Venice?