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The merchant of Venice by William…

The merchant of Venice (original 1596; edition 1935)

by William Shakespeare, Eric Gill

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9,132101573 (3.78)269
Bassanio, with the help of merchant, Antonio, borrows money from Shylock, a wealthy jew, in order to woo Portia. Portia disguises herself as a lawyer and foils Shylock's ability to exact retribution from Bassanio for failing to repay the debt.
Title:The merchant of Venice
Authors:William Shakespeare
Other authors:Eric Gill
Info:New York : E.P. Dutton, 1935
Collections:Your library

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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (1596)



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English (90)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (97)
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“To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason?
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
If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge.
If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example?
Why, revenge.
The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.”

So I don't know what to really say except I did not care for this play at all until we get to the clever solution over what to do about Shylock and Antonio's deal. Up until then I really felt like there was a lot of moving parts going on that made little to no sense and we had everyone acting as if being a Jew was the worst thing in the world. Can I understand why Shylock was frustrated and angry towards the character of Antonio? Yes. Did I think he should have been so ready to end his life in order for him to finally get back at the man who had been tormenting him for so long? No.

So this whole play all starts because a man named Bassanio needs money to court Portia who lives away from Venice. His friend Antonio agrees, but can't loan the money to Bassanio and instead tells him to get it from "The Jew" who is Shylock in Venice. Antonio and Shylock have a mutual loathing of each other and Antonio often goes and pays the loans off of people who have taken out loans with Shylock who are unable to pay him back. Also Antonio has been calling out Shylock and other Jews in Venice for usury. Shylock agrees to a loan but wants the stipulation added that if Bassanio cannot pay him back, that he is then entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh. Yeah these guys, all are super crazy. Who agrees to a loan like that?

There is a side plot of Portia being force to go through a game of sorts in order for her to find a husband I found boring as anything. Though I did laugh at her description of her would be suitors.

So the characters in this play are either great, okay, or just plain suck. I thought Antonio was self righteous as anything and also pretty dumb in thinking that him giving up a pound of flesh would be a good business decision.

Bassanio decides he needs wealth to court Portia, when we already know that you have to play the game in order to win her, so he wouldn't be able to court her really. I am guessing this was just added as a reason for the loan to happen. Either way when you read more of the play you start to realize that it was totally unnecessary for him to do this.

Shylock I did feel for because he feels maligned and attacked by many in Venice who will take his money but still treat him as a pariah and don't even say his name. He is called "The Jew" by everyone. Having his daughter run off with a friend of Bassanio and Antonio's and stole his money and some of his possessions. Instead of anyone feeling for the guy, you have more criticism heaped upon his head. I did love his speech about being a Jew and not being really that different from Christians.

I did love Portia's character since she was the one who ultimately solved how to keep Antonio from dying in order to repay his debt to Shylock. Her speech to Shylock about mercy is ultimately ignored by him. However, I liked that she tried to get him to refuse the debt in order that he would not lose everything.

We have some secondary characters that I am still trying to work out why they were included in the story. Launcelot Gobbo I think was supposed to be comic relief, but I thought he was just horrible for the way he treated and spoke of his father and his former employer Shylock.

Jessica who stole her father's money and possessions and seemingly rejects him and converts to Christianity is often referred to as being so good and pretty that one would think she was a Christian (ugh) and who from what I can see never apologizes to her father for what she has done.

The writing was funny at parts as are much of Shakespeare's plays. Some double meaning here and there. I did think the play suffered when switching from Venice to Portia and her suitors. I just didn't care at all and it was a foregone conclusion that Bassanio would be the one to correctly solve the game.

The ending I supposed was to be a triumph, but to have Shylock lost almost everything and be forcibly converted left a bad taste in my mouth. And to go from that to humor with Portia (disguised) getting a ring that her now husband promised to never take off in order to make him plead and feel sorry for doing so was supposed to be hilarious I think, but just threw off the whole play. If the play had ended at the trial with Portia later revealing herself to her husband later on I think that would have worked better. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
In London recently we saw the Almeida Theatre’s interpretation of The Merchant of Venice. Concerned that I hadn’t seen it before, I set out to watch the film version with Pacino and Irons first – half way through there was a hitch in reception and I was happy to abandon the exercise as by then it was clear that this was a straightforward exercise by Shakespeare, background research not needed.

Imagine my surprise, those of you who might also have watched the first half of Pacino’s Shylock and Iron’s Antonio, to discover that this is a comedy. The production in Islington was in a long line of productions that serve to demonstrate the incredible robustness of Shakespeare’s work. It is set in Las Vegas, complete with an Elvis look-a-like performing Elvis songs. Portia is a southern belle, an absolutely hilarious performance with, as the play demands, the capacity to wear an entirely different hat as well.

Rest here:

https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/the-merchant-of-venice-by... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Not an incredibly fun play, for a comedy, especially given the rampant antisemitism. I'm all for Reader Response Theory, and it's interesting to analyze Shylock as a tragic hero slighted by persecution, but it is still clear that Shakespeare was held back by the prejudices of his time.

Some excellent passages, some great speeches, and all together not too bad. Generally speaking, it's a Shakespeare comedy and falls relatively in line with the others. Midsummer was just more entertaining, albeit less of a thinker. ( )
  MaxAndBradley | May 27, 2020 |
It has a lot of similarities to "The Comedy of Errors," but its genre is more a mix of comedy, drama, and romance, than a plain comedy. There were several relationships to keep track of. Overall, I found the dilemma of contracts and Shylock's character interesting, but the play felt less satisfying than its companion. ( )
  peterbmacd | May 17, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (256 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrews, John F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, Harold F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, John RussellEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cajander, PaavoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino, NemiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsraelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halio, Jay L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, G. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Pei te HurinuiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamar, VirginiaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodovico, Cesare VicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, Agostinosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lovett, Robert MorssEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahood, M. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merchant, W. MoelwynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myrick, KennethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlegel, August Wilhelm vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serpieri, AlessandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ReedEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, George CoffinEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verity, A. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voeten, BertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werstine, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes
When he is best, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.
My meaning in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me that he is sufficient.
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
It is a wise father that knows his own child.
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Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete The Merchant of Venice only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714626, 0141013958

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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