1. a high place 7. Letters- King

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1. Betrayal and revenge
2. Metaphors of death-King Lear, Merchant of Venice, Othello
3. Humor- A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It
4. Pastoral settings- Ling Lear, A midnight Summer’s Dream
5. Madness and insanity- Othello, Midnight Summer?s Dream, King Lear
6. Reversal- the main character falls from a high place
7. Letters- King Lear, Merchant of Venice
8. Things are not as they appear- King Lear, Merchant of Venice,
Midsummer Night?s Dream
9. The Father/Daughter Conflict-Midsummer, King Lear, Merchant of
10. Justice- King Lear, Merchant of Venice
The Father/Daughter Conflict-
In Midnight Summers Dream, Egeus commands Hermia, his daughter, to wed
Demetrius, whom she does not love. Against the advisement of the Duke
Theseus, who recommends that, ”To you your father should be as a god”,
(Act I, Scene I, Line 48). Hermia wishes to marry Lysander. Egeus
threatens his daughter with the penalty of death or exile. In The
Merchant of Venice, Shylock?s daughter, Jessica, denies her faith and
steals from her father in order to marry Lorenzo, a man of whom she is
unequally yoked.
In King Lear, the title character, ruler of Britain, attempts to divide
his kingdom according to the profession of love by his three daughters:
Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Goneril and Regan profess undying love
choosing the most melodic words, while Cordelia is speechless at the
task, stating:……….Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
…………………My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
…………………According to my bond; nor more nor less. (Lines
King Lear becomes angry with Cordelia and banishes her. The other
daughters begin to treat him viciously, Goneril slapping him at one
Shakespeare uses letters as characters in the plays that serve to tie
key factors together for cohesion and clarity. In the Merchant of
Venice, Shakespeare uses a letter from Antonio to bring the culmination
of events to a head at the end of the play, setting the stage for the
courtroom scene. Antonio writes, “my ships have all miscarried”(314) He
tells his friend of his troubles and beckons him to come see him one
last time as he ultimately gives his life for his friend?s debt. If
Bassanio does not go to the court proceedings, then his wife Portia has
no cause to be in the court scene, which leads to Antonio?s
The letter also serves as a vehicle to let the audience know once again
that Shylock, ?The Jew? is the villain in the play. It is not by
accident that he is mentioned in the letter in this way.

In King Lear, Goneril plots to kill her husband through a letter to
Edmund delivered by Oswald. Edmund frames his brother Edgar with a
letter that appears to conspire to kill Gloucester, their father. It is
here that the audience sees how conniving and calculated Edmund really
is and there is no room for sympathy of the character.

Things are not as they appear-
Disguises are tools William Shakespeare uses to hide or mask inner and
outer appearances. In The Merchant of Venice, disguises are used
throughout the play by different characters for varied reasons. The
?lottery of the caskets? in Merchant of Venice is an excellent example
the theme; Things are not as they appear. Portia?s suitors must choose
from caskets of gold, silver, and lead in order to win her hand in
marriage. The choice of the lead casket not only wins the fair Portia,
but it is also indicate the suitor is intelligent and of substance: not
superficial and materialistic.

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Raised as a Jew, Jessica disguises herself as a pageboy to cover up her
identity and embark on a forbidden marriage to Lorenzo, a Christian.
This act of defiance refuses her not only her religion, but also her
father, Shylock, a Jewish usurer. At the introduction of Jessica?s
character, the audience may be inclined to pity the daughter of the
main villain in the play, who is accused of greed and usury; however,
at a closer look, Jessica is found to embody the same greedy
characteristics, indicated by her theft of a precious ring given to her
father by her mother. While appearing meek and compliant, she is
assertive and defiant, signified by not only the elopement but also the
way the escape was orchestrated: vindictive and defiant.

Shakespeare opens King Lear with deception and disguise. Lear?s
daughters, Goneril and Reagan, hide their contempt for their father
under the guise of loving words. This, the inciting incident, sets the
third daughter, Cordelia, up to either follow suit with the
mal-intended flattery, or suffer banishment: she chooses the latter
leading to the catastrophic events that follow.

Shakespeare also uses disguises to give characters help from persons
they would not normally accept aid from. This is the case when the
Earl of Kent, in King Lear, disguises himself as Tom the Bedlam Beggar,
and under this guise, provides protection from the mentally
deteriorating Lear.

In Midsummer Night?s Dream, Shakespeare explores the idea of exterior
and form versus actuality and truth, made clear through the
intermingling of characters. The fairies manipulate appearance and
reality for their prankish pleasure planned primarily by Puck. Puck
sprinkles love around loosely, turning lovers to loathers and vice
versa. Reality is masked by deception. The characters do not know they
are under a spell, and therefore their perception of reality is
actually the deception of the fairies and their ill deeds.

Shakespeare typically culminates his plays with justice being served to
the villain. In King Lear,
Gloucester alludes to the question of whether or not the world is just
when he says, ?As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill
us for their sport.? The play ends with the wicked dying in the flesh
or in their state of comfort. Some critics will argue that the play
ends unjustly signified by the death of Cordeila. To those critics, I
suggest that Cordelia?s life without her father would have been an
unhappy one. She reflects in the first scene that it is this love and
attachment that kept her celibate for so long. With the newly revived
relationship and her father?s final recognition of Cordelia, she would
not have been able to bear losing him again in the event of his demise.
Although the image of Lear holding Cordelia seems horrific, it is
actually quite pleasant to see that final image of him cradling
Cordelia as a father would a beloved daughter.
Shylock?s ill deeds do not go unpunished in The Merchant of Venice.
The climactic courtroom scene where Portia tricks the Jew into
submission give credence to Shakespeare?s theme of justice throughout
each play. As the audience stomachs through each act, watching
Shylock?s moods shift from rage to self pity and eventually to the
brink of lunacy, they anticipate justice being served to the ill-famed
character. The fact that Shakespeare uses a woman to mastermind and in
effect hand over the sentence, cemented by the male judge, is another
part of justice being served in that Jessica, Shylock?s daughter, was
unable to stand up to her father and speak against his will.

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