The Dilemma of Jessica in Shakespeare’s Play – The Merchant of Venice (By Luthando)

Jessica’s character in The Merchant of Venice starts out as an unfortunate one; however, she experiences a different position at the end of the play. Jessica is the daughter of a Jew, named Shylock. He is a money-lender in the area. Jessica lives with her father in a neighborhood that is not so great. The area is a Jewish slum, so to speak. Her freedom is also limiting at best.

Jessica lives under the rules of her Shylock her father, which she does not like. He reminds her to lock the doors and windows whenever he leaves home. As a result, she does not achieve permission to venture into the neighborhood because of the existing hostility towards Jews in such an era. Her father is the subject of harassment most of the time by Christians whenever he ventures outside the home to conduct business.

Jessica is not happy and she lives in frustration with her father, Shylock. She develops a relationship with a Christian male friend, Lorenzo. She plans to escape from her father’s home with Lorenzo, her boyfriend. She eventually escapes with a portion of her father’s money. She spends the money like the prodigal son. As such, she achieves some form a psychological independence in her soul. She is now free to do as she likes; wherever she wants. She develops the ethos of free spending and is enjoying the process without any complaints or restrictions, especially in an emerging capitalist society.

The significance of Jessica’s position is one of transformation. She transitions from an underdog living with restrictions to one of freedom and independence. Shylock, her father is a rich Jew. He is a wealthy money-lender who makes a profit. During a court trial, the judge orders that Jessica receives a percentage of his wealth. This occurs after he lost his case to collect on his bond against Antonio, The Merchant of Venice, while trying to get his pound of flesh from Antonia in court with a knife. Jessica eventually marries Lorenzo, her boyfriend, a Christian, and she a Jew. She converts to Christianity thorough her marriage to Lorenzo.

Jessica symbolizes the stereotypical rebelling female who dislikes her father’s rule. She is also similar to some females in this era rebelling against the rules of their parents. In essence, there exist no difference between the intent of children from the 17th century, and now, who are rebellious against their parents.

The overarching question is this: is the possible that Jessica be better off living with her father? According to the morals and theme of the play she probably would have. For example, especially when she is held in comparison with Portia, the main character of the play, who follows the rules of her father, who is not alive, and who establishes restrictions against Portia in his will. The moral of the story reveals one may achieve more by following instruction and obeying their parents, as in relation to not following instructions and rebelling against their parents.


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