Gorfo's Reviews > The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
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Nov 27, 11

bookshelves: classic, plays
Read from October 28 to November 27, 2011 — I own a copy

Sometimes it seems like Shakespeare really can do no wrong (I mean yeah he supposedly stole all his plays...but so what, he made them better!). Once again I've read another excellent Shakespearean drama that's completely blown me away! Is it possible that so much genius could have come from one man (don't answer that question)!?

The Merchant of Venice follows the story of Bassanio a gentleman who's family fortune has run out who pleads with his friend Antonio "A merchant of Venice" to loan him 3,000 ducats in order to vie for the hand of pure Portia. Antonia borrows the money from Shylock, an exceedingly bitter "Jew" and whose daughter Jessica is just itching to escape into the arms of Lorenzo "a good Christian suitor". However, with Antonio's ships all at sea and the impossible test Bassanio must past in order to win Portia's hand the odds that this drama will have a happy ending seem almost impossible.

The Merchant of Venice is a very interesting play. Portia is an extremely strong female character! I found myself saying the embarrassing "you go girl" in my head as I read! Although at first she seems incredibly submissive the girl turns out to have some spunk and even though the "Prick me" speech by Shylock is probably most famous in this play I think Portia's "mercy speech" is even better and sadly undervalued!

Shylock is a very interesting character. At first it seems as if Shakespeare really connects with him, which is pretty weird since in Elizabethan England if you were not protestant it was the stake for you! So if you weren't even Christian the outlook was definitely not good. However through the famous "if you prick us do we not bleed speech" Shakespeare really showcases a certain empathy with the "Jews", but as the play progresses and Shylock dissipates into a strictly one-dimensional character it's extremely clear that Shakespeare isn't willing to complete erase the boundaries between "good Christians" and "money-grubbing Jews".

I think probably my only problem was that the sub-plot of Lancelot which was intended to be comic relief wasn't or at the very least interesting wasn't very enthralling at all.

The Merchant of Venice is a story of greed and and mercy, perfect if you want guidance about business deals gone awry or oaths broken!
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Quotes Gorfo Liked

William Shakespeare
“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


Reading Progress

11/03/2011
36.0% "Hmmm not that interesting yet but I'm sure the plot will thicken! I'm finding quotes that I never even knew were from Shakespeare...yet I've been saying them forever!"
11/27/2011 page 288
100.0% "I can't believe they use the phrase "go hard". There is no doubt in my mind that Shakespeare created swagger!!!"

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ali (new)

Ali I'm a little upset about the Shakespeare stole his plays comment. I mean there is a group of people that believe Shakespeare was a different person than we expected, but there was a person who wrote these plays. And none of his ideas were original, but there had been multiple plays off the idea, like Romeo and Juliet. It's Shakespeare's actual writing that is so fantastic and makes him an amazing playwright.


Gorfo Alicia wrote: "I'm a little upset about the Shakespeare stole his plays comment. I mean there is a group of people that believe Shakespeare was a different person than we expected, but there was a person who wrot..."

Haha there's definitely no doubt he was a brilliant man! I'm completely infatuated with his work and I really don't care anything about how his plays came into existence (explanation of my flippant attitude towards his supposedly "stolen plays). His name is what's on the cover and as such I solemnly salute his greatness :P


message 3: by Ali (new)

Ali I understand what you're saying now. I just get a little defensive over Shakespeare sometimes. Because even if he didn't create the plot, he wrote the most beautiful poetry in the English language (in my humble opinion). I'm very anti "Shakespeare was a fraud." Even if William Shakespeare himself didn't write these plays, someone must have and the writing is still worth celebrating.


Gorfo Alicia wrote: "I understand what you're saying now. I just get a little defensive over Shakespeare sometimes. Because even if he didn't create the plot, he wrote the most beautiful poetry in the English language ..."

No! I think it's awesome that you feel so strongly about it! I love meeting people who have such fervid opinions! Shakespeare was definitely a genius, don't let anybody ever persuade you otherwise!


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