We have been able to look at the purpose of argumentative writing and how the arguments presented by others may affect the way we think or see certain issues. Creating strong arguments and focused rhetoric is a skill that is as old as the world and by looking into Shakespeareâ€™s â€œThe Merchant of Veniceâ€ we will be able to see how the form has not changed that much and the issues may be the same as todayâ€™s.
You are going to write an essay in which you analyze the arguments presented in one scene and demonstrate how the argument is created and why it works. You must effectively explain what types of arguments were used along with a detail analysis of how the evidence presented helped the character support the argument he/she was making. Remember that at this point we are looking at the entire argument, meaning we are looking at the audience, tone, diction, fallacies, evidence, reasoning, ethos, pathos and logos. Keep in mind the theories we have discussed and use them if you think doing so will enhance your own analysis of the text.
You may choose one from the following scenes:
The trial scene: In this scene Portia and Shylock engage in a discussion in which Portia wins at the end. How did Portia accomplished saving Antonioâ€™s life? What type of arguments did she use? Why were they effective? Consider all the details from the scene and note which ones helped Portia win the case.
The casket scene: Portiaâ€™s father is dead and has left specific instructions on how a husband will be chosen for his daughter. Several suitors have come before the trial of the caskets and failed. Look at the arguments each one of the suitors has made in regards to each casket. Why has their reasoning failed them? Why is Bassiano able to guess the correct casket? They all have the same caskets in front of them and yet he is the only one able to deduce the correct casket. Why?
Readings: For this essay the main text we will be using will be the play, and â€œThe Merchant of Venice: A Modern Perspectiveâ€ by Alexander Leggatt. This article is at the end of the book, so if you purchased the edition stated in the syllabus, you already have it. If you are using a different edition, you can find a copy of the article in Moodle. In addition, you must provide two academic sources on your own. Remember Wikipedia is not an academic source.
Papers must be 5-6 complete pages, double spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, conforming to MLA style guidelines, and stapled.Â All papers must be have an MLA-style Works Cited page.Â Formatting will count in your grade for this assignment.