Title: The Merchant of Venice
Author: William Shakespeare
Pages: 83 (not counting translations and analysis)
Rating: 3 bookmarks (out of 5)
The Merchant of Venice was the first assignment for my Shakespeare class and I have to say that, although I enjoyed the story, I wasn’t quite as impressed with the work as I was expecting to be. Of course, I’m in love with Shakespeare and everything he does. Without a doubt, I’m a Bardolator of the worst grade. But there were still some issues I had with The Merchant. The Merchant of Venice follows the story of Bassanio, a young man in Venice who is in love with Portia. But Portia is really wealthy and hot, and so he needs money in order to woo her. He goes to his friend Antonio, a local merchant, and together the two go to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender who gives Bassanio the money he needs to woo Portia after demanding that Antonio (who essentially cosigned the loan for Bassanio) give him a pound of flesh if the loan isn’t repayed. Antonio agrees and Bassaino goes to Portia.
Portia, meanwhile, is pissed because she’s not allowed to pick her own husband – she loves Bassanio, but because of her father’s will, her suitors must pick from one of three chests – lead, silver, and gold – and if the chest they pick contains a portrait of Portia, that particular suitor gets to marry her. It’s a game of chance. Of course, Bassanio ends up picking correctly and the two newlyweds must race to Antonio’s side – his foreign investments have gone bust and he is in danger of losing a pound of flesh unless Bassanio can persuade Shylock to change his mind.
Shakespeare is a master of comedic situations, and this play is no exception. However, Shakespeare’s move are a kind of signature and, thus, can become mildly predictable. In addition, I found the antisemetic nature of the play (there is some pretty harsh name calling and Shylock’s daughter Jessica runs away with a Christian just because he’s not Jewish) to be a little intense, even keeping in mind the time in which the play was written. Of course, I’d recommend the play to everyone (I’d recommend all Shakespeare to everyone) but if literary antisemitism bothers you, be forewarned.
Other than that, I’m about a quarter of the way in to Sense and Sensibility as well as The Journals of Christopher Columbus and Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton for my 20th Century Novelist class. There are so many books on the burners right now that I’ve got too many to read and too little to review. That won’t be the case for long, I’m sure, but thats sure what it feels like now! I’d update with my recent mailbox and library haul, but unfortunately those pictures are on my home computer, where I am not. Never fear – either later today or tomorrow will bring those pictures as well as the next challenge for the Blog Improvement Project! Happy reading and happy inauguration day! It’s time for change!