Thursday, May 15, 2014


WRITING AN ANALYTICAL ESSAY ON 'THE MERCHANT OF VENICE' using PEEL structure: go here to learn more about this structure.

Considering most exam questions require approximately 600 - 700 words, break it down something like this -

INTRODUCTION - 150 words
BODY PARAGRAPHS - 150 words each
CONCLUSION - 70 words


Shakespeare wrote many romantic comedies which usually followed a formula. How did he use characterization and conflict in The Merchant of Venice to follow his common theme of 'love overcoming all obstacles'?

INTRODUCTION: (This is what you're going to do...)

C - Context
T - Thesis
A - Argument/s

BODY PARAGRAPHS: - This is how you do it...

P - Main Point of paragraph
E - Further explanation of main point
E - Example/s, Evidence - QUOTE/S
L (3 times) - Linking sentence - link to thesis and next paragraph opening sentence

CONCLUSION: - This is how you've done it...

T - Revisit thesis
A - Summarise your arguments
G - General statement about the question

CONTEXT: (Use some of this information in the INTRODUCTION - background information, opening to essay). Maybe first two sentences.

The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's romantic comedies, probably written between 1594 and 1596, and forming one of a group of such comedies - Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. Romantic comedy was a popular and much-performed type in the Elizabethan theatre: certain characters and situations, and a certain kind of plot development were conventional and expected by the audience. The chief element and central motive was love - besides the hero and heroine there were often two and even three subsidiary couples who are in love. In Merchant of Venice we have Portia and Bassanio in the centre, flanked by two other couples, Jessica and Lorenzo, and Nerissa and Gratiano. The comic elements used by Shakespeare often include disguise, through situations, by wit (usually the heroine is cleverer than the men in the play), and by a clown (often providing farce).

All drama, however, must have conflict. In romantic comedy the conflict is between the lovers on one hand and some barrier to the fulfillment of their love on the other. This barrier may take the form of social rule, a parent, or any combination of things which initially prevent the course of true love running smooth. In The Merchant of Venice the barrier is Shylock's hold over Antonio, which in turn involves his friend Bassanio. The plot of the play consists simply in overcoming the barrier, bringing about a celebration at the end, often several celebrations in the form of marriage.


Shakespeare's romantic comedies are in many ways related to the older medieval and Renaissance romances - stories in which the everyday world of cause and effect is suspended and where, as in fairy stories, we are not meant to worry over the plausibility of events and situations. The Merchant of Venice has much of this romantic quality - the suitor who seeks the hand of the princess has to pass a mysterious test to win it.

THESIS: Highlight KEYWORDS. Answer the question. Turn it around. What do you think?

THREE ARGUMENTS: There are three couples in this play. Perfect. A Body Paragraph on each - not all equal - more space given to Portia and Bassiano, the main couple.

While you are learning how to write an Analytical Essay, it may help to color code your INTRODUCTION like this to make sure you have included everything:

YELLOW - broad statement on the topic
BROWN - general statement on the topic
GREEN - plot summary
PINK - thesis
 BLUE - arguments (3) using characters (3)

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