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Examination Questions on The Merchant of Venice

Question: Discuss Launcelot in himself and in his relation to others. What about the Launcelot element in Hamlet, in Macbeth, in King Lear?

Answer: Though some may cavil at the presence of Launcelot as being a marring feature, yet he is, in himself, a character worthy of introduction. He is throughout irresistibly ludicrous; and in his constant attempts to grasp at something witty, and in his equally constant failures to do so, he forms an element that could be ill spared. He serves to present to us much more clearly the character of Jessica, and also to point out some of the finer details in that of Shylock. In Hamlet, the ludicrous element appears in the grave-diggers, whose grim humor serves to give a deeper intensity to the interest of the scene. In Macbeth, the same element is introduced in the person of the porter, whose drunken jests serve to heighten, and at the same time to relieve the horror of, the preceding scene, and to prepare the mind for the nervous tension of the one to follow. In the Fool, in King Lear, there is a mingling of the humorous and the pathetic that touches the heart indescribably, forming from the rudest materials one of the most striking examples of the exceeding delicacy and refinement of the working of Shakespeare's genius.

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How to cite this article:
Miller, Bessie Porter. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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