Wayne's Reviews > The Merchant Of Venice

The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare
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M 50x66
's review
Feb 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: english-classic-lit, plays, re-reads, shakespeare
Recommended to Wayne by: Previous experience
Recommended for: Fans of Will


This is more like a romantic-drama that ends "happily ever after."

It could also been seen as a tragedy where Shylock is concerned.
But despite his famous plea for recognition as a fellow human being,
("...hath not a Jew eyes?...If you prick us, do we not bleed?")
he still gets his "just desserts" as the Outsider. And Antonio, almost saintly in demeanour, is revealed by Shylock to have a very nasty side.
But then Everyone hates Shylock whose wish to have Antonio's life, seems more like a man driven into psychotic revenge for a lifetime of persecution from self-righteous, mealy mouthed gentiles.
They ALL come out of it looking bad, bad BAD!!!!

So is it a 'Bad play"??
Probably.
Or was Shakespeare planting that "prick us" speech in there to get his audience to reconsider ??
This is an event, not a novel, after all.
It is a tool to entertain and provoke.
It had an absolute immediacy.

We have an elopement - Shylock's daughter and a Gentile, a successful Romeo and Juliet.
Is this a promise of Hopeful Blending???

We have Portia whose happiness in Marriage depends on who choses the
one casket of three holding her portrait.
Will her Bassanio choose rightly?

And Shylock whose bond if the business deal fails is Antonio's flesh, a one pound lump.

Portia saves Antonio plus a chance to deliver the famous plea
"The quality of Mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath etc, etc.
(It has no effect on the fleshbent Shylock!!)

The villan is trounced, the victim saved, the lovers all united.

Is it only Shakespeare's name that gets it produced today??
From the looks I received when I mentioned at a party that I had just read this play, I'd say definitely YES!!!
Except for Shylock's speech it doesn't provoke
and has no real immediacy.

But if it was the first Shakespeare you studied at High School as I did, it has a definite storybook quality and I could see Zefferelli turning it into a sumptuous costume drama that would involve you completely with absolute immediacy and provocation what's more!!!!



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