CT Journal Trigger: Consider the situation of Jessica in "The Merchant of Venice," who decided to run away from home to marry Lorenzo, and to take her father 's jewels and money with her. Write a paragraph or two in which you develop a line of reasoning which justifies her actions. Then write another paragraph or two in which you develop a line of reasoning that criticizes her actions. Then write a concluding paragraph in which you tell what you think about her actions, and what makes you think that way.

Britten B.

Jessica had every reason to run off with Lorenzo, because Lorenzo was the man that she loved. Jessica knew that her father, Shylock, would never approve of her marriage to Lorenzo. The main reason is that Lorenzo is a Christian, and as we know, Shylock hates all Christians with a passion. Jessica realized that the only way that she could marry and be with her love, Lorenzo, would be to run away. Also, the reason that Jessica ran away with Shylock's jewels and money is because she would not be able to survive without some sort of money to keep her going. Everyone needs money, especially if they have run away from the place that they have always lived. Having money is crucial to survival. Jessica just did what she had to do to be with Lorenzo, and get away from her dominating father.

However, you could also argue that Jessica acted extremely foolishly. Did she run away with Lorenzo because she really did love him, or did she just run away to get away from her father and to rebel against her father? What exactly was Jessica's real reason and motive for running away? Also, as Tubal told Shylock, Jessica was wasting and spending all of her father's money and jewels without any good reason or purpose. There is no justification for wasting her father's money. Jessica just did what she could to hurt her father, or else she simply just didn't care! Shylock had said that he would rather have Jessica dead, then marry a Christian. By being with Lorenzo, Jessica was rebelling against her father in the greatest way possible.

I think that Jessica had two main reasons for running off with Lorenzo and taking her father's jewels and money. First of all, I think that Jessica really was in love with Lorenzo, or thought that she was. However, I also think that Jessica was rebelling against Shylock. For her entire life, Jessica was raised one hundred percent Jewish, and was under the influence of her father, who hated all Christians. I think that Jessica was tired of being told what to do, and how to do it, and part of the way that she rebelled against her father and her strong Jewish background was by falling in love with Lorenzo. She took this rebellion a few steps further by running away with Lorenzo, and taking with her Shylock's money and jewels. You can look at this situation from many different points of view, and you can either justify or criticize Jessica's actions. You could say that she had all the reason in the world to run off with Lorenzo, because he is the man that she loved. Or, you could say that her loyalty should be to her father, Shylock. I think that from the way the story is shaped, Jessica's actions were justifiable, just because of the way Shylock is portrayed. From the way I understand Shylock from the text, who would want him as a father, and who would want to be under his control? I know Jessica didn't!

Gavin S.

I heard news of my father's reaction to my escape. I heard of his contorted face when Tubal told him of my expenditures. It serves him right. I have never loved my father. He, with certainty, has never loved me; he only loves his money and the making of more money. Hearing his comment concerning me: "I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear! would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin!" ( I. 82-84), only strengthens my resolve. I had no reason to consider my father's feelings. When has he ever considered mine? That greedy old miser deserved to get his money taken. That's the only thing he cares about. I doubt he would have wasted the money on trying to find me through Tubal had I not taken anything. More likely, he would have just forgotten that he ever had a daughter. I used to think that perhaps running away would hurt him, but now I realize that the only thing my father cares about is his money! I am glad I hurt him in that way. He is no longer my father. He is but a rancid memory in my mind.

I damn my daughter for stealing from me. The heartlessness of that girl never ceases to amaze me. And running away with, of all people, a Christian! How dare she! However, I am satisfied for I have the last laugh. She thinks that taking my money and running away with a Christian will infuriate me. Certainly when Tubal told me what had happened, I was upset. Who wouldn't be angry over hearing that his daughter ran away with a mortal enemy? The loss of my child to a Christian was only compounded by the loss of money. In the end, however, I am not mortally injured, though she probably thinks I am. What parent can love a child that mocks him by going against his principles and of all things steals from his own bosom, I still have my bond with Antonio to appease my need for revenge. Perhaps later, I can go after my daughter, but until then, as far as I am concerned, she does not exist. Perhaps, I have already gained my revenge. After all, by taking my money she proves that her only ambition in running away was to get back at me. I doubt she loves that Christian, Lorenzo. How angry Lorenzo will be when he learns the truth. I may be rotten at heart, but the apple falls close to the tree and my Jessica is surely no jewel. Still, I will always hate her and will remember the moment that my child struck out against me, her father. I will laugh, however, when I remember that the only result of her rebellion was the removal of her lifeline.

Personally, I think Jessica's actions were justified. She had every right to dislike her father and if she truly loved Lorenzo, I don't see why she should have suppressed her feelings. Additionally, had Jessica gone to Shylock for his permission I wouldn't put it beyond him to lock her up so that no such union could take place. The one aspect of her escape that I disapprove of is the stealing of Shylock's money. If Jessica wanted to run away that was understandable. However, she should have done it for love. When she steals Shylock's money, it puts doubt in my mind and makes me wonder whether she ran away for love or if she ran away to exact revenge upon her father. Either way, whether for revenge or love, I understand Jessica's wish to leave her father, as I would probably do the same in her situation; however, I would have walked away on my own behalf.