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The Merchant of Venice

By William Shakespeare (10)

William Shakespeare, the revered master of drama, be it tragedy or comedy, composed arguably one of his best works in The Merchant of Venice, a play that swings the pendulum between comedy and tragedy with practiced ease. The play opens by introducing us to Bassanio and Antonio, who are close friends. Bassanio beseeches Antonio to loan him a sizable amount of money so that he may woo the lovely Portia, a woman of great wealth. Antonio greatly desires to do so, but with his equity tied up in ships that have yet to reach port, he turns to Shylock, a Jew with a fierce dislike for Antonio. Asking Shylock for a three thousand ducat loan, Shylock decides to ask for no interest, but instead gives an exact date for the loan’s repayment, with the stipulation that, should the loan not be repaid, he may take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. The portrayal of Shylock in early productions was initially utterly unsympathetic, but modern takes now examine the Jewish man as an object of abject racial prejudice, whose vengeful mission is perhaps not entirely villainous, but misguided. Of particular note is Shylock’s famous speech, stating “Hath not a Jew eyes? … If you prick us, do we not bleed?” A marvel to see on stage and to read on page, The Merchant of Venice is a complex drama, deserving of its critical acclaim.

Study Guide: The Merchant of Venice (Illustrated Classics for Reluctant Readers) (eBook) cover

Study Guide: The Merchant o...Saddleback Educational PublishingSDL978160291621020 Pages, Grades 9 - 12

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Students' Guide: Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare Made Easy (eBook) cover

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