How Is Dramatic Tension Created in the Trial Scene of 'the Merchant of Venice'?

2045 Words Aug 22nd, 2005 9 Pages
How does Shakespeare create dramatic interest for the audience in the trial scene, Act 4 scene 1 in ‘The Merchant of Venice'?

In the trial scene (act 4 scene 1), Shakespeare uses many different dramatic techniques to make the tension in the court room rise and build. He also uses dramatic irony and many other techniques to engage an audience in this particular scene in the play. These techniques would work have worked on an Elizabethan audience or a modern day audience. Although, these two eras do not share the same views on some of the things Shakespeare wrote about, the same mood and ideas are given across through Shakespeare's use of dramatic techniques.
The previous knowledge which the audience holds about the previous acts and
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The audience's tension and general interest in the scene would have built up because they are now beginning to understand just how much Shylock wants Antonio's flesh. The idea of him being determined to receive the pound of flesh is repeated over and over so that the audience understands Shylock's stubbornness and his determination.
The dramatic tension continues building when Portia or ‘Balthazar' enters the court. Balthazar is the doctor who can save Antonio from Shylock's bond. The tension rises as the audience wonder if she will be recognised by her husband, Bassanio. Because Venice is a male dominated society, Portia and Nerissa had to dress as males to enter and to be accepted into the society. In order to leave Venice, Jessica (Shylock's daughter) also had to dress as a male. This shows that women are not accepted into the society and to gain any respect around the men, they too have to become males. This is interesting and creates dramatic interest in the scene because it would be interesting for the audience to see if Portia can save Antonio's life and outsmart Shylock at the same time. The audience will be interested in the scene because they will wonder if the women will get away with tricking their husbands and if Antonio or Gratiano realise that they are in fact their wives. Portia holds some of the qualities of a man (quick thinking, intelligence and wit), and this is interesting to the audience as they can see her act as a man
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