The Merchant of Venice

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William Shakespeare baptised 26 April 1564 was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world s pre eminent dramatist He is often called England s national poet and the Bard of Avon or simply The Bard His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems His plays have been tr

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  • Paperback
  • 237 pages
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • William Shakespeare
  • English
  • 10 April 2018
  • 9780743477567

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 predominately sunny canvas that embodies f0r us the fallen world of Venice transformed by the magic of Portia s Belmont I also believe our knowledge of the Holocaust makes it impossible to appreciate the play fully in this way Now after my recent re reading I m no longer sure what to think For one thing taking the title seriously this time I feel that Antonio the merchant, both in his unexplained sadness, his love whether erotic or paternal or both for Bassanio, and his unredeemed solitariness, is extremely important to the meaning of the play I think that Antonio and Shylock, in their preoccupations and loneliness, are similar, but that Antonio unlike Shylock is able to look beneath the surface of things, to peer beneath our muddy vesture of decay and hear the music of the spheres as it echoes in the human heart Thus Antonio becomes capable of love and mercy through choice, in much the same way that Bassanio chooses the right caskets and Portia chooses the mature way to respond to Bassanio s giving away of her ring Shylock, however, by willingly suppressing his compassion for another and insisting strictly on justice puts himself beyond mercy and beyond love.

  2. says:

    . 13 ..

  3. says:

    view spoiler hide spoiler

  4. says:

    3 1 2 stars.This review contains huge spoilers.Well 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 It bothered me to see her tricking Bassanio with no repent Incidentally, I feel sad for Antonio In my opinion, he did deserve to end up wealthy but not alone Same for Shylock, even though I can t ignore his showing cruelty instead of mercy Redemption was hardly an option he considered, but still, he was left with nothing They took away from him one of the things that was most important to him his religion He wasn t a monstrous villain to me, just a very vindictive and avaricious man His priorities weren t ones I agreed with.A good play, in sum Antonio Bassanio

  5. 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 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 evil.Shakespeare 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 character.And 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 Hermione.There 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 riddles.Beyond 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 protection.Shakespeare 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 disguise.More like this, please

  6. 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 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 question 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 question 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 question 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.

  7. says:

    The Merchant of Venice , William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice is a 16th century play written by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice must default on a large loan provided by a Jewish moneylender It is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599 1999 1377 187 9644451597 9789644451591 1384 1387 1390 1393 17 1394 200 9786002531940 1378

  8. 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 successful merchant in Venice, and a gambler in commerce, his ships float in the unpredictable oceans waves, always bringing him back riches , to the lucky man His cousin, and best friend , Bassanio, not so much, he has a bad habit of spending not only all his money, but quite a lot not in his pockets a concept still popular in modern times As they say, a friend in need, is a friend indeed, Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan, but unfortunately his kinsman has everything tied up, but wait a short while, soon his ships will come in, and Antonio will be richer than ever Bassanio can t, there is a woman involved, he needs plenty of ducats, to impress the lady Portia, who lives on shore, Belmont, that he is well off, not a penniless seeker of gold , through marriage to her Only the moneylender Shylock, can do this, Christians in the middle ages, considered it unchristian, getting interest from loaning money so intelligent Jews, dominates this trade and did very well The wise Shylock who despises Antonio, a rival, and the merchant does not love him either , will not have anything to do with the reckless Bassanio, but Antonio, that s different, an excellent reputation in business 3,000 ducats agreed to, a contract signed by Antonio, with a funny line about a pound of flesh taken from The Merchant of Venice, if he can t repay back the loan, with interest, in three months Simple, his ships have always brought back precious merchandise, making huge profits, much over the cost of his investments, but the mammoth seas, are exceedingly treacherous, and unfeeling, news arrives, a shipwreck off Tripoli, another in the English Channel, others, fall under the stormy waves, never to be seen again, sink in the cold waters, to the unknown bottom of the abyss Antonio, is ruined, like his ships, Shylock demands not his money, but the pound of flesh from his hide, even the Duke, of the city, is helpless, a contract is a contract, bad for business if not enforced His cousin has been better served by the gods, married to the wealthy , smart, independently minded, beautiful, Portia, but Antonio, still needs a good lawyer, now, the hesitant Bassanio returns to Venice, with his wife s support, on their wedding day Nerissa, Portia s maid, married Gratiano, her husband s friend, the two secretly follow them to the city, dressed as men Their new, unperceptive, maybe even vacuous husbands, know not these gentlemenPortia, a pretend attorney, with whatever legal knowledge, she acquires but an intellectual giant , must save Antonio from an undoubted deathThe Jewish Shylock, makes the best statement ever, against racism If you prick us, do we not bleed if you tickle us, do we not laugh if you poison us, do we not die

  9. 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 quality of mercy speech in the court room scene The quality of mercy is not strain d,It droppeth as the gentle rain from heavenUpon the place beneath it is twice blest It blesseth him that gives and him that takes Tis mightiest in the mightiest it becomesThe throned monarch better than his crown His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,The attribute to awe and majesty,Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings But mercy is above this sceptred sway It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,It is an attribute to God himself And earthly power doth then show likest God sWhen mercy seasons justice Therefore, Jew,Though justice be thy plea, consider this,That, in the course of justice, none of usShould see salvation we do pray for mercy And that same prayer doth teach us all to renderThe deeds of mercy I have spoke thus muchTo mitigate the justice of thy plea Which if thou follow, this strict court of VeniceMust needs give sentence gainst the merchant there.That speech above is the reason why this play has received three starts instead of the five that it deserves for the brilliance of its rendering, the writing, the amazing commentary, the bravery of putting it out there, complication of its presentation and really, everything else about it Actually, let me be precise the fact that none of the characters in this play lived up to that speech is the reason is the reason for the three stars.Here s the thing I did not like a single person in this play Not one It was an absolute chore to read this play, and took much longer than it should have to get through the same reaction I have to reading Russian novels or George Bernard Shaw plays where the characters are mere mouthpieces, and their sometimes jaw droppingly awful actions should be excused by their overall message There were so many absolutely horrifying things going on in this play, and not one plotline to redeem it, or attach me to the story Not one Piles of racism, nationalism, religious preaching, a Christ complex or two, mildly offensive gender politics, the whole thing was an absolute morass there s, as always, too much to deal with in a Shakespeare play to cover it all, which is why I have chosen the quality of mercy speech, and perhaps I ll be able to touch on everything spiraling out from there.Not one person in this play particularly stuck to the above defined, idealized presentation of justice or mercy Nobody particularly deserved mercy, either Shylock as subversive a condemnation of anti Semitism as he might be , is forced to take his revenge too far for the sake of wrapping up the plotline so that the Jew doesn t win Antonio, despite his surface presentation of goodness is a deeply cruel, probably racist prick who plays the martyr as it benefits him, and, I have a deep suspicion, gave to his friend Bassiano due to the fact that he is in love with him and so, is selfish, not selfless As for our supposed romantic leads Bassiano is one selfish jerk who teaches the audience that its totally cool to cheat people and take advantage of people if you re young and hot, Gratiano expresses his desire to lead a lynch mob, and thinks going off on racist rants is fun, and Lorenzo can t wait to spend the rest of his life lording his generosity over what he believes will be his slavishly grateful Jewish wife As for the women, Jessica cares for rising in the world out of her inferior Jewish position than her father or, really, anything else, and makes a sickening speech about how awesome her Jesus lovin fiance is, Nerissa starts off potentially interesting and winds up very quickly as a mere shadow and eventually literal echo of her employer, like Shakespeare forgot what he put her there to begin with And as for Portia she s the only character in this play that I have a bit of a struggle with I do want to like her I certainly appreciate the fact that she starts off as independent as it is possible for her to be supposedly living her life in accordance with her dead daddy s wishes, and yet her own mistress for what seems to have been a very long time She s smart, witty, quick, and definitely not afraid to stick up for herself She pretends the submissive wife when her husband runs off five minutes after they get engaged, pretending to go to a convent, and instead goes on a cross dressing, everyone saving adventure But here s my thing with Portia she is not merciful She s mean, man I started to feel sorry for all those poor princes who show up to try to claim her hand I know they re just plot points and there to be made fun of, but good God They re not people at all they re just countries, being made fun of, cause dumb national stereotypes are fun Shakespeare was in all likelihood playing to his audiences nationalistic sympathies at the time the two Princes who actually appear are of Arragon and Morocco The English were not huge fans of Spain at the time given the current and past political situation, and making fun of black people well, why not The ones who are just talked about are Palatine, French, English and Neopolitan Princes all except for the English, which is dealt with below , countries I m sure England was totally cool with them looking a bit ridiculous I did actually love the description of the English prince it was a humorous, sharp commentary on English power and imperialism What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baronof England You know I say nothing to him, for he understandsnot me, nor I him he hath neither Latin, French,nor Italian, and you will come into the court andswear that I have a poor pennyworth in the English.He is a proper man s picture, but, alas, who canconverse with a dumb show How oddly he is suited I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his roundhose in France, his bonnet in Germany and hisbehavior every where. Anyway, just another example of the cardboard people thing that helped to add up to a deeply unlikeable play even if the observations were funny, and did help to set up Portia as a witty woman, their other uses cannot be ignored The above is the nicest thing she has to say about anybody, btw And after she gives an admittedly brilliant performance in the courtroom, Shakespeare feels the need to end the play with her as the nagging, scolding wife, who deliberately sets her husband up to be caught Cause that s what the wimmens are like Just waiting to claw your eyes out at any opportunity, dontcha know Also, the action directly contradicted everything she had just said in the courtroom, as it was exactly like or worse than what Shylock supposedly did to Antonio She spends this whole speech talking about how mercy does not mean keeping to the letter of the law, and it means understanding human frailty and how mercy is better than justice, etc, etc, and then, literally two scenes later, she s all, but Bassianno, you saaaaaaid and takes huge self righteous delight in ripping down the man she supposedly loves after setting him up to lose I suppose you can make the feminist argument that at least she doesn t give in totally to her man, and she still reminds him constantly who is in control it is her money that allows Bassiano to put on a brave face in the courtroom, it is her words that get him out of it, it is her ring that shows him how close he can come to being tossed the fuck out Even if she can t do that once she s married, she s made her point But I don t know if this is a positive stereotype of women than the woman who wilts into her husband immediately after her marriage.As for the anti Semitism in this play it is a delicate subject, but I definitely come down on the side that Shakespeare meant this to be a subversive commentary on the popular views of the day If the prick us speech didn t open that window, the treatment of Shylock and how other characters talk about him throughout the play does Shakespeare gives his audience exactly what they want or what he believes they do and believe, all while showing them why it is wrong, every step of the way Even the way that Shylock is caught is absolutely wrong these Christians, are, as mentioned above, worse than anything that Shylock could possibly have been even with the exaggerated traits given to him by Shakespeare His punishment is elegant, and far cruel than just shooting him in the face would have been And it certainly does not have that quality of mercy, whatever Antonio would like the audience to think Shakespeare s poignant rendering of the realities of life as a member of an inferior sect in domestic or world society, and what those in positions of power feel entitled to do to you, is both subtle and in your face, and draws both laughter and anger at once Beyond brilliant, really.In any case this is worth reading, as a brilliant, very brave, social commentary, as an interesting historical document, and as a beautifully written treatise on a number of very touchy subjects It is absolutely worth the read, and I will probably read parts of it again as I wrestle with what I feel about it but don t come in here looking for a story, or for people, for you will walk out quite disappointed I don t think this is a bad thing knowing the play s focus and limitations, rather at least for me , allows one a window into appreciating a hidden, manic brilliance that might otherwise have remained hidden in the muck and sewer rotting garbage And such a want wit sadness makes of me,That I have much ado to know myself.Antonio s lines open the play I choose to read this as a disclaimer from Shakespeare, perhaps a statement of his own mind in setting these sometimes ugly, complicated thoughts to paper A plea to look under rocks and among the worms, if we must, to find the beauty.Do It is worth it.

  10. 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 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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