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1596-1599, William Shakespeare
Antonio, an antisemitic merchant, takes a loan from the Jew Shylock to help his friend to court Portia. Antonio can't repay the loan, and without mercy, Shylock demands a pound of his flesh. The heiress Portia, now the wife of Antonio's friend, dresses as a lawyer and saves Antonio.
The Merchant of Venice is structured partly on the contrast between idealistic and realistic opinions about society and relationships. On the one hand, the play tells us that love is more important than money, mercy is preferable to revenge, and love lasts forever
Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano, Lorenzo, Portia, Nerissa, Balthazar, Stephano, Shylock, Jessica, Tubal, Launcelot Gobbo, Old Gobbo, Leonardo, Duke of Venice, Prince of Morocco, Prince of Arragon, Salarino and Salanio
The forfeit of a merchant's deadly bond after standing surety for a friend's loan was a common tale in England in the late 16th century. In addition, the test of the suitors at Belmont, the merchant's rescue from the "pound of flesh" penalty by his friend's new wife disguised as a lawyer, and her demand for the betrothal ring in payment are all elements present in the 14th-century tale Il Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino, which was published in Milan in 1558.
The Merchant of Venice is one of the most famous plays of Shakespeare. The play is frequently staged today, but is potentially troubling to modern audiences because of its central themes, which can easily appear antisemitic. Critics today still continue to argue over the play's stance on the Jews and Judaism.
“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.”
“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
“All that glisters is not gold.”
1. Shakespeare, W., Shakespeare, W., & Kaplan, M. L. (2002). The merchant of Venice (pp. 25-120). Palgrave Macmillan US. (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-137-07784-4_2)
2. Lewalski, B. K. (1962). Biblical Allusion and Allegory in" The Merchant of Venice". Shakespeare Quarterly, 13(3), 327-343. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2866826)
3. Halio, J. L. (2006). The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare Bulletin, 24(2), 63-68. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/1/article/199046/summary)
4. Ferber, M. (1990). The Ideology of The Merchant of Venice. English Literary Renaissance, 20(3), 431-464. (https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-6757.1990.tb01442.x?journalCode=elr)
5. Willson, M. J. (1994). View of Justice in Shakespeare's the Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure. Notre Dame L. Rev., 70, 695. (https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/tndl70&div=24&id=&page=)
6. Metzger, M. J. (1998). “Now by my hood, a gentle and no Jew”: Jessica, The Merchant of Venice, and the discourse of early modern English identity. PMLA, 113(1), 52-63. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/pmla/article/abs/now-by-my-hood-a-gentle-and-no-jew-jessica-the-merchant-of-venice-and-the-discourse-of-early-modern-english-identity/51E9B840D2AB9DB0ABAB356C6FBC0B20)
7. Moisan, T. (2013). " Which is the merchant here? and which the Jew?": subversion and recuperation in The Merchant of Venice. In Shakespeare Reproduced (pp. 196-214). Routledge. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781315018584-15/merchant-jew-subversion-recuperation-merchant-venice-thomas-moisan-188)
8. Sokol, B. J., & Sokol, M. (1999). Shakespeare and the English Equity Jurisdiction The Merchant of Venice and the Two Texts of King Lear. The Review of English Studies, 50(200), 417-439. (https://academic.oup.com/res/article-abstract/50/200/417/1531451)