William Shakespeare explores Belmont and Venice in his play “The Merchant of Venice”. Because these two Italian cities are so opposite, characters’ behavior can vary from one city to the other. Venice is where the Shakespeare play begins. Scenes in the real world center on wealth, trade and history as well as urban life. The language used in the real world is formal and uses many conceits. Venice is also dominated by men, while Belmont is dominated mostly by women. Belmont is also a place of fantasy and ideality. Love is more important than money and other rational things. People use a simpler, more humorous language to describe the place than Venice, a trading town. Shakespeare, however, introduces two locations that are in sharp contrast to each other.

The playwright “The Merchant of Venice” has parallel scenes that show Venice and Belmont. The most striking difference between the two places is the crash of love and money. Venice is Italy’s centre for trade. There is no shortage of financial transactions, and it even mirrors people’s speeches. Act I Scene 1 begins on the street with the dialogue among Antonio, Salerio, and Solanio. Antonio opens the first line by saying “I feel so sad”[1] although he suspects that he doesn’t understand why he feels sorrowful. Act I Scene III is also where Bassanio requests a loan from Shylock. Bassanio tells Antonio that if he does not pay, Antonio will. Bassanio gives Antonio a guarantee so that the money cannot be returned. Shylock said, “He is good to have your understanding that he suffices.”[2]. It means that if a person has wealth, they are reliable in this center. Belmont where Portia resides is, however, a fantasy world that Shakespeare made. It is home to poetry, sweet songs, spheres, and classic literature. This city is rich, too, but it is not inherited like Portia’s wealth from her father. This city was built on love. Portia tells Prince, of Morocco, Act II, Scene I that she is not limited in her choices. / I can be guided by the eyes of a maiden. She implies that it is not enough to be attractive to men. She needs other conditions to get married. While she desires to love and find the right man, her father doesn’t allow it. Her father still controls her life and she has all but love. Portia travels to Venice for her problems with love, while Bassanio goes in Belmont to get his finances under control. Portia enjoys Bassanio. He does make use of her feelings for money. Act I Scene I sees him finally speaking about Portia. He refers to a girl who loves him very much and is wealthy. Bassanio said: “In Belmont is an elderly lady, Fair and fairer than the Word, Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes, I received fair speechless messages from her eyes.”[5] Also, beautiful language symbolizes decorum. Venice is a trading centre, and people use it to make a living. Therefore, it is important that they use the appropriate language in order to be understood by others. They also use this language to communicate their intelligence to each other. Salerio even portrays shipwreck in the second scene. Belmont does not require ladies to use elaborate language. Instead, they choose a more simple and humorous approach. They can speak however they wish without worrying about being sophisticated. This may also be due to the ideal city. Portia responds to Nerissa in Act III Scene IV by saying, “Fie! What a question! / If thou were near a lewd interlocutor!”[7]. The question isn’t something she likes and she also says that she doesn’t think she can understand it. She is not shy about it and says this directly.Additionally, these two worlds differ from each other in terms of predominant gender roles in them. It can easily be said that Venice is patriarchal while Belmont, on the other hand, is feminine. The play also shows the discrimination that was prevalent in those days. After the exchange of rings in Act IV’s court of justice, Act V Scene I sees Bassanio and Grationo go to Portia in Belmont. Portia & Nerissa are right to blame them. This is because gentlemen don’t care about their relationships and either lose or give their rings to other women. These issues are not important in patriarchal societies. However, men begin to talk about their opinions and claim that women cannot communicate with them. Shakespeare subverts gender norms and the men are able to defend their own position. Gratiano says that he gave his ring to the judge’s assistant, but then he refers to his physical appearance saying that he was “a young, a kind boy, a little clean boy”[8] in order for women to believe him. Bassanio, too, claims that he lost his ring while defending it. He then continues: “… What do I have to say, sweetie? / I was forced to send it after he, / I felt ashamed and insincere. Portia acts like a male while challenging gender norms. The court will not recognize their first goal, but they are there to help them. They could have done it without becoming men. Probably, the ladies are aware that no one listens to them. They cannot defend Bassanio/Gratiano in court if they are women.

Belmont and Venice can also be linked to the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Venice is a city that is known for its trade centers. There are many foreigners living here, including Shylock, who is a Jew. To show Antonio a lesson, he should show mercy and not insist on a pound of flesh. This strict focus on the agreement means that Judaism has been associated with the Old Testament. Belmont women, on the contrary, are more merciful than God’s. This is evident in the final act, which concerns the rings of Bassanio Gratiano. The play is closely linked to Christianity as well as the New Testament.

Venice is also a historical city, contrary to Belmont. The historical sings that Shylock desires for Antonio’s flesh are obvious to the reader. Shylock is a Jewishman. Antonio humiliated Shylock before, and now he seeks revenge. Act I Scene 3: Shylock first sees Antonio as the guarantor to Bassanio. Shakespeare refers to Shylock, Antonio and both as Jewish people. The Christian belief holds that all Jews will convert to Christianity in the near future. Shylock was converted by the playwright. However, Belmont’s historical events are not known to the audience. In the ideal world, people can freely express and think their thoughts. Portia isn’t completely free in fairy land, even though she enjoys these freedoms. He will have her marry a man. Susan Oldrive said this in her article. She stated that Portia cannot veto her dad’s decision to marry a man, a right which became more common in Elizabethan times.[11] In other words, every city has its problems.

There is also a distinction between pastoral and urban life. Trade is a major factor in Venice’s urban life. Urban areas are home to many people from diverse cultures. It is okay to not get along with someone if it isn’t necessary. This can be seen in the relationship between Shylock’s Bassanio and Antonio. Bassanio went to Shylock for money. His only goal was to get money to Portia, and not to become a friend. Shylock is aware of Antonio’s tendency to lend money without thinking and to hate Jews. They also have a suitable language for urban living. Belmont, however, is a rural community. People generally inherit their wealth in rural areas. This is similar to Portia’s father’s legacy. It is important to note that Venice does not have a lot of cultural diversity. The Belmont scenes do not reflect this. These scenes are not the only examples of rural life. Belmont’s peaceful environment and Shepherds could also be good examples. Religion is also a concern for shepherds who represent Jesus Christ. Portia, who is a saint, can also be associated with the shepherd. This peaceful area is known for its peace and tranquility. All arguments usually take place in Venice and not Belmont.

Belmont and Venice are two places in Italy William Shakespeare used to set the scenes for “The Merchant of Venice”. They are opposites. Venice is the city of reality. They are focused on Venice because it embodies everything they want. Belmont, on the other hand, is a symbol of ideality. They are also given the New Testament and love, which is their most important matter. Belmontans are easier-going than Venice’s. These attributes are reflected in the language spoken. People use more sophisticated language in Venice to communicate their financial interests. In Belmont, however, they prefer more simple and natural language. These are characteristics of cities, but they also reflect culture. William Shakespeare compares the two worlds with success in “The Merchant of Venice”.

Works cited

D. J. Snider. “The Merchant of Venice: Conclusion”.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Vol. 6, No. 4, pg. 361-375. Lehnhof, Kent. “The Merchant of Venice: Venice, Belmont,” Chapman University Symposium. Nineteenth of April, 2016. Magri, Neomi. “Places In Shakespeare: Belmont And Thereabouts.” De Vere Society Newsletter. June 2003. Oldrieve, Susan. “Marginalized voices in ‘The Merchant of Venice” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature Vol. 5, No. In Spring of 1993, a symposium was published which focused on “The Merchant of Venice.” 87-105. Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play written by William Shakespeare about a merchant in Venice, Italy. The story focuses on the merchant’s struggle for justice and his relationship with a wealthy heiress. The play has been adapted for the stage, film, and television over the years. The Collins Classics collection of 2011 presents a snapshot of Great Britain. [1] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare about a Jewish moneylender who demands a pound of flesh as collateral from a Christian merchant in Venice. Great Britain: Classics by Collins, 2011. Pg. Seven, first line. [2] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a famous play by William Shakespeare. It tells the story of a young merchant, Antonio, who borrows money from a wealthy Jewish moneylender, Shylock, in order to help his friend, Bassanio, win the hand of a wealthy heiress. However, when Antonio is unable to repay the loan, a bitter conflict erupts between the two. The Collins Classics edition of Great Britain was released in 2011. Pg. 19, Lines 13-14. [3] Magri, Neomi. “Places Shakespeare: Belmont & Thereabouts.” De Vere Society Newsletter. June 2003. [4] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare about a Jewish moneylender, Antonio, who agrees to loan money to a Venetian merchant, Bassanio, in exchange for a pound of Antonio’s flesh if he can’t repay the loan. Great Britain’s Collins Classics series was published in 2011. Pg. 26, Lines 13-14. [5] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare about a wealthy merchant who is willing to take a loan from a Jewish moneylender, but must agree to certain conditions in order to do so. Great Britain has been published in the Collins Classics collection in 2011. Pg. 12, Lines 161-164. [6] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare about a merchant, Antonio, who has to borrow money from a Jewish money lender, Shylock. Antonio agrees to pay Shylock back with a pound of his own flesh if he fails to repay the loan. Antonio is eventually able to repay the loan, but not before going through a series of trials and tribulations. Great Britain is featured in Collins Classics’ 2011 edition. Pg. 8, Lines 27-28. [7] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a well-known play written by William Shakespeare. It tells the story of a merchant in Venice, Italy and his dealings with a Jewish moneylender. The play is filled with themes of justice, mercy, and revenge, and ultimately examines the relationships between different religions and cultures. The classic work about Great Britain was recently republished by Collins Classics in 2011. Pg. 74, Lines 79-80. [8]Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare which tells the story of a conflict between a Jewish moneylender and a Christian merchant in 16th century Venice. The Collins Classics edition of Great Britain was published in 2011. Pg. 104 Lines 161-162. [9] Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare about a Jewish moneylender and the lengths he goes to for the sake of love and justice. The Collins Classics edition of Great Britain was published in 2011. Pg. 106, Lines 215-217. [10] Shakespeare, William. A businessperson from Venice. The Collins Classics series from Great Britain was released in 2011. Pg. 20, Lines 37-43. [11] Oldrieve, Susan. “Marginalized voices in ‘The Merchant of Venice” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature Vol. 5, No. 1, A Symposium issue on “The Merchant of Venice” (Spring 1993). Pg. 90.


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    Rhys Graham is an educational blogger and professor who writes about topics such as literacy, mathematics, and science. He has written several books, including one on the history of science. He is also the co-founder of the website Learn Out Loud, which helps educators create and share classroom activities.