The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

Venice

 

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely … smug, materialistic gentiles or vindictive, malicious Jews?  That’s pretty much the unflattering picture painted by the Bard in this controversial “comedy.”  For the young, heterosexual, and moneyed, the play ends happily.  For others, not so much.

There are Shakespearean revisionists out there who refuse to believe that the beloved playwright was anti-Semitic but, if he wasn’t down on Jews, he was certainly down on Shylock, the notorious Jewish moneylender at the heart of this story about obstacles to young love.

As always with Shakespeare, methinks you must read this play more than once.  You read the first time (something of a chore) constantly referring to annotations for word definitions and cultural references; you read again for the pleasure of the poetry.

 

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