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The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice

Khadija Gohar | VIII J | Beaconhouse Senior Girls Branch, Rawalpindi

Merchant of Venice is a very famous play by Sir William Shakespeare, and is recommended for anyone who likes to read, particularly Shakespeare himself or work that was written during his era.

The book is about love, betrayal, prejudice, money and religious acceptance. It is a very good portrayal of the 16th century social norms and carries a lot of symbolism and quite revolutionary ideas.

The book is very short, the language is beautiful and it’s fairly easy to read. However, if you’re not a book aficionado, and you don’t particularly enjoy the language and/or writing from Shakespeare’s time, this book might not be the place to start.

Ironically, the main character is not Antonio, the merchant of Venice; it is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. There is no way one would consider Shylock a nice fellow as he is a nasty and greedy moneylender.

The plot of the play is a set of complex and interwoven actions, which I enjoyed. The play actually begins in Bassanio’s desire to win the hand of Portia, the rich and beautiful young heiress, and in Antonio’s hatred of Jews and money-lenders.

Shylock hates Antonio because of his attitude towards him, so he extracts a contract according to which if Antonio were not to repay his debt on the designated day, Shylock would get a pound of Antonio’s flesh. 

A third plot line is a love affair between Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio, and Jessica, Shylock’s daughter. They both have no problem in religious acceptance but the problem is Shylock. In the end, of course, Bassanio wins Portia, Lorenzo and Jessica escape, but Antonio can’t pay his debt on time and Shylock demands his pound of flesh in the court of law.

In the courtroom Portia gives her famous “quality of mercy” speech, for the defense of Antonio against Shylock, one of the well-known Shakespeare speeches which are often excerpted.

The Merchant of Venice is a wonderful read. It is touching, insightful and fascinating; just a delightful read.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II)

Zainab Imran | Class: XI-C-D | Beaconhouse Liberty Campus, Lahore

All the hype surrounding the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 made it essential for us Harry Potter fans to grab a copy of the DVD as soon as it was released.

Despite being sad at not being able to watch the movie in 3D, which would have been more exciting, I couldn't wait to see Harry finally finish off Voldemort, his mortal enemy. The opening music score was quite haunting and dramatic.

The film starts with Harry, joined by his long-time friends Ron and Hermione, going off to look for the Horcruxes, objects in which Voldemort has kept parts of his soul alive in order to achieve immortality. I must say that Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way in terms of acting. His acting skills have improved a lot since his first movie.

The film effectively conveys the determination shown by the protagonist in his quest for the Horcruxes. Despite having fit in all the important scenes from a 500 page book in just three hours of film, the director manages to satisfy the audience.

The last half of the movie revolves around events taking place within the Hogwarts. The place where all the action started is where it all comes to an end. One of my favourite scenes was when the death-eaters surrounded the Hogwarts, but could not get through due to the protective charms. My pulse rate quickened as Neville Longbottom actually dared the death-eaters to step forward.

Although I'd previously read the book and knew what was about to happen, the acting as well as the direction were good enough to make me break a sweat with concern for the nervous boy, who at the end of the film proves himself worthy of belonging to the Gryffindor house.

With all the bangs and cracks in the right places, the sound effects were as good as the visual effects. The battle scenes between the death-eaters and those supporting the cause of goodness are a sight to behold. Emotions stirred at places where they ought to have stirred.

If Severus Snipe's revelation as a tragedy stricken character and Fred Wesley's death were not enough to make tears roll down my cheeks, the appearance of Harry's parents and godfather made my heart ache. The rebounding of the killer curse finished off one of the most hated characters of all times, Voldemort. The movie with its excellent cinematography and breath-taking battle scenes brings to life J.K Rowling's imaginary world of witches and wizards. On a scale of 5, I'd rate it as a 4/5.
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