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The Value of the Ring in the Merchant of Venice


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Choose an object or item of disputed or debatable value in The Merchant of Venice.  In one page (double-spaced), explain the ways in which that object is valued and how those ways of valuing conflict.

There are many ways you can approach this assignment.  You can choose an object that two characters in the play value differently.  Or you can contrast an item’s material or monetary value with its thematic, emotional or metaphorical value.  Or, bearing in mind that this play is about usury and trade, money and goods, you could contrast an item’s material value with its monetary value; in other words, you can explore the difference between value and price.

Or, you can approach this assignment from a more dramatic, theatrical perspective. What’s the difference between an item’s value for the play’s fictional characters and its value for Shakespeare and (or?) his actors?  What’s the difference for the actors and for the audience–or for different audiences of different time periods?  How do audiences, as opposed to characters, evaluate a prop?  And for that matter, how do audiences evaluate a character?

You may choose an item that relates to more than one of the questions I posed above. For instance, you may write about an object’s material, metaphorical and theatrical value.  But remember to keep this brief essay focused and specific.  You don’t need to mention every possible idea related to an item from the play.  Try to develop in depth a few ideas about the item.  Use at least two brief quotations from The Merchant of Venice to support your points (these should be about one line long and no more than three lines long)Do not use outside research (you don’t have space in a paper of this length).


Title; The Value of the Ring in the Merchant of Venice

Length; 1 page (275 words)

Style; APA