Bernardo and Francisco have a point. The entire path of the scene is determined by who is on stage. Think of the ways the conversation could go if instead of Bernardo, another unknown Dane approaches Francisco’s guard-post, or one of Fortinbras’ troops.
From Hamlet to real life, and the idea of decorum – behaving or speaking appropriately to the circumstances and audience.
Life’s pretty poor for Shylock as is, but his world falls apart when his flighty daughter elopes with a ne’er-do-well Christian lad, taking his fortune to boot. Famously, Act III scene i sees the dam of his frustration and resentment overwhelmed, leaving him only the potential satisfaction of revenge against his mortal enemy, Antonio.
But why is Shylock’s speech so memorably powerful?
Advice given so often to people who say they ‘don’t get’ Shakespeare – advice I almost always disregard, much preferring the film running in my head as I read. But there’s one time when I find reading difficult, and that’s the multi-scene act. It distracted me last time I read The Merchant of Venice, and it has done this time, too. Just don’t speak to me about Antony and Cleopatra‘s 42 scenes …
And yet, for all that there are nine scenes in Act II, there are only really two plots.
‘Can you do anything to help Brian? He’s got a Macbeth exam coming up,‘ said my Dearest Partner of Greatness.
Brian is not his real name. He’s a nephew. Being a typically feckless Y10 lad, none of us have any idea whether he has read the play, or seen it, or what type of test / exam he has coming up, or when it might be. We doubt Brian knows himself.
So what’s to do, for someone with a target of 4 (for overseas visitors, the highest target at GCSE is 9, and 4 tends to be the grade employers ask for as a minimum) and a complete disinterest in English?
Time to work my magic, and on my birthday, too! Time, in fact, for a mindmap – it’s almost a present being asked to do one, because I LOVE a nice mindmap.