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Merchant of Venice Oral Presentation

written by: SForsyth • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/14/2012

'The Merchant of Venice' provides a fascinating text. Although it may not be the most popular of Shakespeare's dramas, it does contain many interesting themes and ideas that students find engaging.

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    Set in Venice, this play revolves around the life of its main character Antonio, his money problems and his dealings with the larger than life character Shylock. Additionally the courtship of Portia by Bassanio is another important part of the plot, as well as the use of minor characters for other subplots. This play is not exactly a comedy even although in many aspects it ends well. It explores the issues of justice, application of the Law and of course the role of the outsider in society as exemplified by Shylock. This play engages students and will facilitate lively discussions in class as well as be a good source for essay assignments and other types of written work.

    To facilitate a deeper analysis of some of the dramatic techniques used by Shakespeare as well as a more perceptive understanding of the themes of the play assign students in pairs or groups to deliver an oral presentation about one of the following topics below.

    The topics below will help facilitate effective oral presentations.

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    Oral Presentation Topics

    How does Shakespeare convey his message to the audience? What techniques does he use to bring the play to life ? By examining the various motifs, themes and other literary devices listed below students will be able to look closely at how this text works.

    The best way of doing this is by selecting key scenes in the play which are relevant to the chosen topic and analyzing them. Specific examples and quotations should be chosen from the key scenes which explain the importance of the chosen topic to the development of the play.

    Students should choose from the list below.

    • Use of setting
    • Use of minor characters
    • Representation of Jews
    • Significance of money
    • Use of symbols /symbolic objects
    • The motif of disguise
    • Law and justice
    • Representation of women in the play
    • Triangles: the use of three elements connected together in the plot
    • Stereotypes/stereotypical characters in the play
    • The role of Shylock as the outsider
    • Biblical imagery
    • Significance of mercy in the play

Lesson Plans on Oral Presentations

This series will explain how oral presentations on texts can help students develop a better understanding of texts studied in class and also develop their analytical skills. It will also give specific lesson plans for oral presentations on individual texts.
  1. How to Do an Analytical Presentation
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire Characterization Lesson Plan
  3. Oral Presentation on Hamlet for Advanced Literature
  4. Merchant of Venice Oral Presentation
  5. Teaching 'An Inspector Calls': Assigning an Oral Presentation