Question: How has Shakespeare made the Act 2 Scene 9 so amusing/ interesting?
The scene has been taken from the Play TMOV, by the famous playwright William Shakespeare. This scene is made particularly amusing by the behavior of the Prince Arragon, and the blunt responses of Portia. This is been successfully achieved with the use of diction, language style and character delineation of the Prince and Portia.
The playwright to add hilarity in the scene has used diction finely. Firstly, the name selection of the prince is what amuses the audience. The name “Arragon” is a unique name. Unlike Prince of Morocco, who is from Morocco, there seems to be no place called “Arragon” which again amuses the reader. Moreover, it seems to be derived from the stem “arrogant”, which is suggestive of his personality. This habit of Shakespeare of leaving out hints for the audience interests them. Also, as it is clear that the play is a comedy, which means that the disliked characters would lose, it can be imagined that Arragon would be mocked and defeated. Moreover, the prince’s bustling confidence also amuses the audience. The fact that he “enjoyed” taking the oath, and gladly accepting a life as a potential widower, is extremely shocking and amusing for the audience. The person is not in his upright senses, as it appears he is not only blindly risking his own life, but is also gambling with his kingdom’s ownership. If he lost in the casket challenge, then there would be no natural heir. Moreover, unlike Morocco who was tensed by the terms of the challenge and goes up to Almighty to seek for guidance, this gentlemen is willing adding “injunctions” to this challenge. Thus seeing a personality creating obstacles for oneself amuses the readers. And, like the audience anticipates it, the prince looses. Arrgon’s reactions after losing the casket challenge makes the even scene more amusing. Though, the audience had it anticipated, this comes as a real shock to the prince. He seems unable to control himself and deems the scrolls to be “blinking Idiot.” This unsophisticated diction highlights his immaturity, as though he tries to allege the casket itself to be flawed, rather than blaming his own decision. His immaturity is again highlighted when he seems desperate for a “better price” a “better desert.” His behavior appears baby like and amuses the audience. Most importantly as his behavior now is a stark contrast to the confidence with which he spoke to Portia, hilarity of scene appears to be augmented. Thus, diction makes the scene amusing.
Language and structure has also made the scene amusing. With the slight stage directions Shakespeare has given, it is made clear how even Portia was mocking the Prince on his decision. As “Arragon unlocks” he is shocked to see his miscalculation, and waits for a “long pause” to consume his what has happened. Portia mocks his well-strategized decision when didn’t seemed “to find” what he was so confident of. Thus, his bustling overconfidence that makes way to his downfall amuses the readers. Subsequently, there is sudden change in tone and pace as well. From the long sentences with : ; , The prince shifts shorter ones with ? . ! This reflects his flummoxed state of being. It may suggest how after losing and being humiliated, he himself refused to lengthen his sentences. Lastly, the scroll is another mode where there the prince is mocked. This is done wonderfully by announcing his fate in a rhyme. A perfect play of words for such a sad climax. One can say that the usually a rhyming poetry creates a sense of childlikeness which may be thought of as mockery for a “noble” prince. This amuses the readers. Moreover, it also mocks his decision to a “shadow’s bliss.” This suggests that the prince had himself deluded, and would have to remain in bliss with his delusionary thoughts rather than “wife” in “bed.” This carries a connotation of sarcasm and makes the scene amusing.
Character development is again quite quintessential for deeming this plot to be amusing. Arragon denounces all those who are “corrupt” people which take advantages when they’re “undeserving.” This way he hints off his “honorable” character. The prince, rather than praising Portia, continues to praise himself. This is quite ironic for a prince so “noble” as he seems to prove to a women off his kingly attitude. Moreover, he wants to tell Portia about his uniqueness as he is not like the “barbarous spirits” and wouldn’t do what the “common spirits” do. One can believe to just appear different was making alterations in his ideas. Also nowhere in his long speech is a mention of love for Portia. This suggests that the man seemed only interested in the challenge of the winning the casket, and not Portia. Thus as this character seems quite different from the others contenders the readers may feel amused. Lastly, when he loses in the challenge, his sophistication and royal behavior seem to puddle down. He seems to beg Portia for “better deserving,” even though it was solely his decision to the pick, which casket. The audience may observe sort of role reversal. First, the Prince who mocked Portia of not being “fair” enough now was seeking for sympathy. This may be satisfying and amusing for the audience to look at a man beg affront a women. Also its ironic in the situation where it was Portia’s rights which were conserved, but here the Prince was crying. Thus, the character of the two makes it amusing.
According to me, what’s also amusing are the vague explanations and propositions provided by the Prince. In the process of the possibly choosing his wife, he starts to blabber out politics, inheritance, dignity. Though, these topics are very important for a society, but I fail to understand their importance while wooing Portia. Thus, this queer quality may amuse the readers.
Thus with the use of diction, language style and character delineation the scene has been made amusing.