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The place of Venice in the early modern English imagination merchant culture and marriage sexuality and friendship in the period Editorial features designed to help readers relate the play to historical documents include an engaging general introduction an introduction to each thematic group of documents headnotes and glosses for the primary documents presented in modern spelling and an extensive bibliograph. If this had a secondary title delivered in the parlance of our times it would be THE POUND OF FLESH I liked this for many reasons but the element that stands out most is Shakespeare s focus Many of his plays have various complex and intertwined sub plots some being interesting than the theme itself TMOV is focused and almost relentless we have one simple course of action that the story leads inevitably towards and which keeps the reader and the audience entranced will Shylock really remain intent on claiming his bond Even the Duke seems ready to predict that Shylock will relent at the end and just take the money Other fascinating themes explored are the love of money and love itself both in romantic terms and in friendship While Antonio and Portia present complex and thoroughly entertaining Shakespearean characterizations Shylock of course steals the show

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The Merchant of Venice

This edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice reprints the Bevington edition of the play along with documents and illustrations thematically arranged to offer a richly textured understanding of early modern culture and Shakespeare’s work within that culture The texts include maps woodcuts sermons statutes early modern documents reflecting Christian attitudes toward Jews and Jewish reactions to these. Maybe because I read this play with the famous controversy of its antisemitism on my mind or because I expected a true hearted villain Iago fashion in the Jewish usurer Skylock but I reached the last scene of the play with the extraordinary sensation that the Jew s failure to execute the bloodthirsty bond was of an anecdote than a climatic victory over evilShakespeare s precise wordplay presents a flesh and bone figure in Shylock a flawed human being a man who has been mocked and persecuted by his Christian antagonists and who seeks disproportionate revenge out of hurt pride and blind rage He is not wicked by nature the Jew has a motive to retaliate either with or without the weight of morality on his side and that is precisely what makes him such a believable characterAnd then there is Portia Portia Oh Portia To me Portia is the great revelation of the play A beautiful orphan wealthy but not spoiled ready to follow his deceased father s will and marry the man who sees beyond appearances A woman with passion and brains that outshines her dull peers by daring to break the rules and suspend her role as a subservient female in order to save the day Her transfiguration and disarming display of acumen in the court scene followed by the allegorical teasing of the ring played on her dumfounded new husband Bassanio is enough to place Portia among sassy heroines the caliber of Beatrice Kate or HermioneThere is nothing to miss in this first rate comedy the best I have read so far Fast paced bantering misused words over brimming with jocular double meaning a fool who is wise enough to choose the winning side three romances that culminate in a great party and metaphoric sagacity in the form of playful riddlesBeyond the literal plotline there is a universe of challenged beliefs where apparently righteous characters are not essentially good scheming misers are not outright scoundrels and damsels in distress mere objects of male protectionShakespeare flips the coin fast enough to confuse the casual reader but if one reads between the lines he ll meet defiant nonconformity in its most elegant disguiseMore like this please

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Attitudes excerpts from the Bible on moneylending as well as contemporary discourses on usury and commerce anti Catholic tracts travel accounts diplomatic reports scenes from a morality play about the corrupting effects of treatment of aliens conduct literature and contemporary treatises on the role of women The documents illuminate religious controversy at the time of Shakespeare’s play some of his sources. The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare is the old classics selection for catching up on classics for September 2016 This comedy first printed in 1609 five years prior to Shakespeare s death offers many pressing issues of its day that are unfortunately still relevant today It is still widely studied in schools yet is banned in many places as well due to its anti Semitic portrayal of Jews and some lewdness It is in this light that I discuss the Bard s work Jews had been banned from England in 1290 so it is highly unlikely that Shakespeare came across many Jews during his lifetime His portrayal of Shylock as a greedy moneylender is considered stereotypical by many Other scholars however have created rumors that perhaps Shakespeare himself was Jewish and that his creation of Shylock was to bring awareness the poor treatment of Jews throughout Europe The fact that this play was published in the First Folio after the Bard s death makes one uestion if perhaps Shakespeare himself did not write this particular play but maybe a ghost writer specifically a Jewish born ghost writer did Regardless Shylock s character including his Hath not a Jew eyes speech remains memorable these 420 years later Additionally Shakespeare has created strong female characters in this play both Portia of Belmont and Jessica Shylock s daughter I recently read Macbeth where Lady Macbeth is ruthless and calculating than her husband In The Merchant of Venice Portia uses a mind game to find a worthy suitor and later on disguises herself as a lawyer in order to free her husband s dear friend Antonio from Shylock s bond I remember all these years later being naturally drawn toward Portia s strong character when I read this play in school which is why I feel that schools select this work so that girls have a protagonist that they are captivated by while reading While the Merchant of Venice is officially deemed a comedy because three sets of characters marry the play also contains dramatic elements I am drawn toward the intrigue in tragedies so naturally the plot involving Antonio s bond to Shylock in order to assist Bassanio in wooing Portia held my attention than the actual romance involving Portia and Bassanio as well as Nerissa and Gratiano Additionally the role of Jews in society which lead Jessica to renounce her Judaism in order to marry Lorenzo was heart rending to me as opposed to romantic Interestingly enough the last play of Shakespeare s that I read discussed little of the world at large but chose to focus on the characters themselves This leads me to uestion if the rumor to whether or not the Bard penned all of his plays actually contains a kernel of truth I enjoyed reading The Merchant of Venice for the first time in nearly twenty years It is eye opening through adult eyes the roles of both Jews and women in Shakespearean works Was the bard an anti Semitic Englishman renouncing Jews or a Jewish ghost writer warning Europeans of Jews plight The fact that scholars are still debating this uestion over 400 years later is a testament to the Bard s place in written history It was a treat to revisit this work which I rate 5 huge stars for its societal awareness and timelessness


10 thoughts on “The Merchant of Venice

  1. says:

    Many years ago I believed this play to be an early experiment in tragi comedy featuring Shylock a nemesis of almost tragic proportions who both because of the sympathies he evokes and the evil determination he represents unbalances the play making the last act in Belmont seem like a hollow exercise in formal completeness More recently I believed that Shylock was essentially a comic villain one dark splash on a predomina

  2. says:

    3 12 starsThis review contains huge spoilersWell I certainly did not expect that ending I didn't imagine Portia to be one to give second chances especially after seeing her scheming to discover who is important to Bassanio herself or Antonio I

  3. says:

    Maybe because I read this play with the famous controversy of its antisemitism on my mind or because I expected a true hearted villain “Iago fashion” in the Jewish usurer Skylock but I reached the last scene o

  4. says:

    The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare is the old classics selection for catching up on classics for September 2016 This comedy first printed in 1609 five years prior to Shakespeare's death offers many pressing issues of its day that are unfortunately still relevant today It is still widely studied in schools y

  5. says:

    Although the most famous speech from this piece is deservedly and understandably Shylock's 'prick us' monologue I think that the useful speech to talk about what I felt about the play is Portia's only slightly less famous 'uality of mercy' speech in the court room scene The uality of mercy is not strain'dIt droppeth as the gentle r

  6. says:

    ‘’I am a Jew Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands organs dimensions senses affections passions; fed with the same food hurt with the same weapons subject to the same diseases healed by the same means warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like y

  7. says:

    The pretty islands of Venice in the shallow lagoon atop the blue Adriatic Sea as the blazing rays of the Sun shine down on the brilliant colors of the homes the calm canals full of boats with cargo from faraway lands a glorious past but an uncertain future the rise of Portugal worries the people The city once powerful a short distance from the Italian mainland vastly wealthy is in declineAntonio the most succe

  8. says:

    If this had a secondary title delivered in the parlance of our times it would be THE POUND OF FLESH I liked this for many reasons but the element that stands out most is Shakespeare's focus Many of his plays have various complex and intertwine

  9. says:

    “One had best state this matter very plainly To recover the comic splendor of The Merchant of Venice now you need to be either a sch

  10. says:

    Book Review 3 of 5 stars to The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare My review is an excerpt from a paper I wrote on appearance versus reality in Shakespeare's plays In many of William Shakespeare’s famous plays reality was