By William Shakespeare
The service provider of Venice is an interesting drama of affection, greed and revenge. At its middle, the play contrasts the characters of the maddened and vengeful Shylock, a Venetian moneylender, with the gracious, level-headed Portia, a prosperous younger girl besieged through suitors.
At the play's climax, Shylock insists binding agreement be enforced with the intention to price the lifetime of the service provider Antonio. Pleading Antonio's case prior to the Duke of Venice, Portia shrewdly defeats Shylock's evil goal.
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204). Set a year later, Piers Paul Read’s A Married Man (1979) raises similar doubts about the ethical efﬁcacy of ﬁction in a story of political and social collapse that embraces the 1973–4 winter of strikes, and the ensuing February election. In an intriguing process of mapping the personal on to the political, Read’s novel treats the mid-life crisis of forty-year-old barrister John Strickland as the litmus test for a more general social malaise, embracing the corrupting effects of the legal and political systems.
In this novel Widmerpool’s insatiable quest for power and status latches on to the new social movements of the 1960s, with the inevitable consequence that these are tainted by his lack of integrity. Powell’s conservative comic mood, in 24 The Cambridge Introduction to Modern British Fiction, 1950–2000 alliance with the social status quo, is here revealed more directly than elsewhere in the sequence. The static conservative overview of Powell indicates that alternative ﬁctional strategies were needed to register adequately the implications of the new social movements.
126) spoken by the gang members (the ‘droogs’) is a mannerism designed to exclude adults, a point underscored when the predatory Alex encounters two ten-year-old girls in a record store and discovers their idiom is different to his (p. 37). 23 Though problematic, A Clockwork Orange is, in fact, a highly moral work. The unreformed Alex, having spent two years in a conventional prison, is put through a two-week ‘Reclamation Treatment’ (p. 75), a programme of conditioning, enhanced by drugs, that makes the patient sick at the thought The State and the Novel 25 of violence.