The Merchant of Venice has been performed more often than any other comedy by Shakespeare. Molly Mahood pays special attention to the expectations of the play's first audience, and to our modern experience of seeing and hearing the play. In a substantial new addition to the Introduction, Charles Edelman focuses on the play's sexual politics and recent scholarship devoted to the position of Jews in Shakespeare's time. He surveys the international scope and diversity of theatrical interpretations of The Merchant in the 1980s and 1990s and their different ways of tackling the troubling figure of Shylock.
In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father's will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails, he may never marry at all.Bassanio and Portia also face a magnificent villain, the loan shark Shylock. In creating Shylock, William Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread prejudice against Jews. Shylock would have been regarded as a villain because he was a Jew. Yet he gives such powerful expression to his alienation due to the hatred around him that, in many productions, he emerges as the hero.Portia is most remembered for her disguise as a lawyer, Balthazar, especially the speech in which she urges Shylock to show mercy that "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven."The Merchant of Venice is an intriguing drama of love, greed, and revenge.
Four hundred years after its first performance, The Merchant of Venice continues to draw audiences, spark debate, and elicit controversy. This collection of new essays examines the performance and study of Shakespeare's play from a broad range of contemporary critical approaches. The contributors, drawn from four continents, build upon recent scholarship in new historicism, feminism, performance theory, and postcolonial studies to present new perspectives on the play, and offer fresh insights into its critical legacy on stage and as a literary text. A substantial introductory essay provides important historical context and surveys major critical approaches to the play over the centuries. This volume is an essential companion to The Merchant of Venice and a significant contribution to Shakespearean criticism.
Although generally considered a comedy, this play has an underlying plot of considerable moral dimension. The three main characters, Antonio, the prosperous merchant, Shylock, the reviled usurer and the heiress Portia, are portrayed in ways untypical of Elizabethan norms.
The Merchant of Venice has had a rich and varied stage history. It has aroused controversy for over four hundred years. The introduction to this edition challenges many of the preconceptions associated with the play, showing how historical events and cultural attitudes have influenced actors' interpretations and audience responses. The commentary describes how actors, directors and designers have approached the play from the first performances in the 1590s to the present.
Examines how directors have dealt with the problem of anti-semitism in staging Shakespeare's play over the past century, with a review of an Elizabethan performance as comparison. Among the seven productions considered are the 1970 Miller/Olivier, the 1987 Alexander/Sher, and two televised versions. Distributed in the US by St. Martin's. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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._ SALARINO._Your mind is tossing on the ocean;_There where your argosies, with portly sailÑ_Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,_Or as it were the pageants of the seaÑ_Do overpeer the petty traffickers,_That curtsy to them, do them reverence,_As they fly by them with their woven wings._ SALANIO._Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,_The better part of my affections would_Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still_Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,_Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads;_And every object that might make me fear_Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt_Would make me sad._ SALARINO._My wind, cooling my broth_Would blow me to an ague, when I thought_What harm a wind too great might do at sea._I should not see the sandy hour-glass run_But I should think of shallows and of flats,_And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,_Vailing her high top lower than her ribs_To kiss her burial. Should I go to church_And see the holy edifice of stone,_And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,_Which, touching but my gentle vessel's side,_Would scatter all her spices on the stream,_Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,_And, in a word, but even now worth this,_And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought_To think on this, and shall I lack the thought_That such a thing bechanc'd would make me sad?_But tell not me; I know Antonio_Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
This study of The Merchant of Venice explores the degree of dramatic integrity Shakespeare achieves by unifying the play's many hard choices through a tightly-knit interplay of contrarieties and correspondences in structure, language, characters and ideas. Engaging the play's extensive body of criticism, the book contextualizes the most provocative questions raised by the day and provides considerable new evidence about Shakespeare's possible sources and his innovative use of them, especially usury and merchantry, Judaism and Christianity, biblical and classical allusion, stage law and verbal-visual symbols.