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Jessica’s Silence Within the Merchant of Venice

Jessica’s Silence Within Shakespeare’s tragic comedy, The Merchant of Venice, one is exposed to yet another one of his works that has an intensely packed storyline full of different characters with their own complex subplots that contribute to the main plot. One of the main characters, Jessica, is daughter of Shylock, who is a wealthy Jewish moneylender in Venice. Shylock is characterized as a villainous type of character within the play, partly because of being a Jew and partly because of his rude and mean exterior.

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Within the subplot of Jessica and Shylock’s relationship, it is clearly visable by Shylock’s treatment of his daughter that she has become resentful of not only being his daughter, but also of being a Jew. When Jessica decides to rob her father of quite a bit of his money and property through an arranged setup with Lorenzo, the man she plans to elope after the robbery, she takes not only many things worth a great value, but also the ring that her father had bought her mother.

When Shylock learns of his daughter not only deserting him and robbing him, but taking such invaluable and prized possession as the ring, he is utterly heartbroken. After trading the ring for a monkey and marrying Lorenzo, Jessica is faced with a deep moral guilt in Act 5, Scene 1 when exposed to how Portia feels after tricking Bassiano to give the ring away while she was disguised. In Act 5, Scene 1, Jessica is completely silent after Portia and the others enter and they begin to discuss all of the disguise and trickery that had happened.

When the men are told that Portia and Nerissa were in disguise and tricked the men of their rings, rings that the men had swore to keep for eternity, Jessica is exposed to how much love and emotion was attached to those rings. One would think that it must have been a shameful kick in the stomach to see past the fog that her love for Lorenzo has caused and realize that the hurt that these women are experiencing is the same pain that her father must have felt when realizing that Jessica, his only flesh and blood, the only person he could possibly love in this world, took one of his most sentimental treasures and traded it for a damn monkey.