Bassanio does not want Antonio to accept such a risky condition; Antonio is surprised by what he sees as the moneylender's generosity (no "usance" – interest – is asked for), and he signs the contract. The play has inspired many adaptions and several works of fiction. There are also elements of comedy in it and moments full of laughter and fun. ", "How do you make Shakespeare work on the radio?". The Merchant of Venice is a 16th-century play written by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice named Antonio defaults on a large loan provided by a Jewish moneylender, Shylock. The doctor is Portia in disguise, and the law clerk who accompanies her is Nerissa, also disguised as a man. We don't mean "drama" in the sense that intense stuff goes down (although that's very true), but in the "dramatic" sense. In a 1902 interview with Theater magazine, Adler pointed out that Shylock is a wealthy man, "rich enough to forgo the interest on three thousand ducats" and that Antonio is "far from the chivalrous gentleman he is made to appear. Although the trial scene is mainly about the punishment and saving of Antonio but there is a fight between Portia and Shylock. At its very root, a comedy is a drama with a humorous or satirical tone, and The Merchant of Venice’s comic relief scenes and characters provide the audience with this humorous air. speech on humanity. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio's blood, his "lands and goods" would be forfeited under Venetian laws. [21] In 1701, George Granville staged a successful adaptation, titled The Jew of Venice, with Thomas Betterton as Bassanio. After all the other characters make amends, Antonio learns from Portia that three of his ships were not stranded and have returned safely after all. Fiennes defended his choice, saying "I would never invent something before doing my detective work in the text. Classifying ‘The Merchant of Venice’ as a tragedy or comedy is difficult since it resembles both. At Belmont, Portia and Nerissa taunt and pretend to accuse their husbands before revealing they were really the lawyer and his clerk in disguise (V). The play has elements of both genres, but one is clearly prevalent. The play was mentioned by Francis Meres in 1598, so it must have been familiar on the stage by that date. The last suitor is Bassanio, whom Portia wishes to succeed, having met him before. Revenge. "[13] Cumberland later wrote a successful play, The Jew (1794), in which his title character, Sheva, is portrayed sympathetically, as both a kindhearted and generous man. One example is the Shakespeare-aficionado Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), a Klingon, who quotes Shylock. As already mentioned in the introduction, it is difficult to define the genre of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. [23], Arthur Sullivan wrote incidental music for the play in 1871. In one sense, The Merchant of Venice falls into the literary genre of a drama or play. Comedy refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, or in its simplest form comedy is a story with a happy ending. One of the reasons for this interpretation is that Shylock's painful status in Venetian society is emphasised. [59], David Henry Wilson's play Shylock's Revenge, was first produced at the University of Hamburg in 1989, and follows the events in The Merchant of Venice. The play is frequently staged today, but is potentially troubling to modern audiences because of its central themes, which can easily appear antisemitic. Today, The Merchant of Venice is often read and played more like a problem play or even a tragedy. Although few unclear elements of tragedy are apparent in this play, The Merchant … As in many comedies, the conflict at the heart of Merchant has the potential to end tragically. From the very beginning of The Merchant of Venice, we see the comedic element of lovers being separated time and time again. [66], The Pianist is a 2002 film based on a memoir by Władysław Szpilman. I am a Jew. [71][72], Sarah B. Mantell's Everything that Never Happened is a play first produced in 2017 at the Yale School of Drama. Tell her the process of Antonio's end, If you prick us, do we not bleed? It was printed again in 1619, as part of William Jaggard's so-called False Folio. TL;DR: Shylock asks for a pound of flesh as part of a loan contract (weird), Bassanio agrees to it (weirder), and Portia saves the day by cross-dressing and pretending to practice the law (perfectly normal). It is a tragedy as it is filled with emotional melodrama like most tragedies. He is huge. [28], Kean and Irving presented a Shylock justified in wanting his revenge; Adler's Shylock evolved over the years he played the role, first as a stock Shakespearean villain, then as a man whose better nature was overcome by a desire for revenge, and finally as a man who operated not from revenge but from pride. Synopsis and plot overview of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. While the story hits upon the tragic element of despair, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, is a comedy because lovers are separated, characters are in disguise, and the story has a happy ending. [27] Jacob Adler was the most notable of the early 20th century: Adler played the role in Yiddish-language translation, first in Manhattan's Yiddish Theater District in the Lower East Side, and later on Broadway, where, to great acclaim, he performed the role in Yiddish in an otherwise English-language production. First she declines, but after he insists, Portia requests his ring and Antonio's gloves. "Our English Homer; or, the Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy". [9], Shakespeare's play may be seen as a continuation of this tradition. Rowe expressed doubts about this interpretation as early as 1709; Doggett's success in the role meant that later productions would feature the troupe clown as Shylock. What is unusual, however, is the fact that the lovers overcome their obstacles and marry each other midway through the play, before the main conflict has been resolved in Act IV. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Part of the BBC's Shakespeare Festival, the play also marked that 500 years had passed since the Venetian Ghetto was instituted. Portia is a fine example of a romantic heroine in Shakespeare’s mature comedies: she is witty, rich, exacting in what… … Defeated, Shylock consents to accept Bassanio's offer of money for the defaulted bond: first his offer to pay "the bond thrice", which Portia rebuffs, telling him to take his bond, and then merely the principal; but Portia also prevents him from doing this, on the ground that he has already refused it "in the open court". Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice, who has previously and repeatedly bailed him out. Whoever picks the right casket wins Portia's hand. The Merchant of Venice. [58] In this retelling, Shylock and Antonio are friends and share a disdain for the crass anti-Semitism of the Christian community's laws. Antonio also asks that "for this favor" Shylock convert to Christianity and bequeath his entire estate to Lorenzo and Jessica. The Merchant of Venice is structured partly on the contrast between idealistic and realistic opinions about society and relationships. Genre classification : The Merchant of Venice is regarded as a tragic comedy. In addition to this Shakespeare gives Shylock one of his most eloquent speeches: Salerio. The language is comparatively easy than most of his plays. However, Shylock’s plan falls apart when Portia shows up in court disguised as a young male “doctor of the law.” (Incidentally, this instance of cross-dressing disguise constitutes another common feature of Shakespeare’s comedies.) Here to this devil, to deliver you. For me, the problem with the re-timing of the story is that much of the logic fails to work with the later time period. When compared to many of Shakespeare’s other dramatic works, The Merchant … The title page of the first edition in 1600 states that it had been performed "divers times" by that date. The cast included. The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596–97) uses a double plot structure to contrast a tale of romantic wooing with one that comes close to tragedy. The play has elements of both genres, but one is clearly prevalent. The Merchant of Venice is a typical example of a Shakespearean comedy in that its central conflict finds resolution before real harm comes to anyone. There is one other such idolator in the play: Shylock himself. [10] The title page of the Quarto indicates that the play was sometimes known as The Jew of Venice in its day, which suggests that it was seen as similar to Marlowe's early 1590s work The Jew of Malta. Shylock is at first reluctant to grant the loan, citing abuse he has suffered at Antonio's hand. Caldecott, Henry Stratford (1895). In this film, Henryk Szpilman reads Shylock's "Hath Not a Jew eyes?" Comedy; Drama. Although Merchant shares the basic structure of Shakespeare's other comedies, they play also … By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from SparkNotes and verify that you are over the age of 13. Unknown to Bassanio and Gratiano, Portia sent her servant, Balthazar, to seek the counsel of Portia's cousin, Bellario, a lawyer, at Padua. Antonio says he is content that the state waive its claim to half Shylock's wealth if he can have his one-half share "in use" until Shylock's death, when the principal would be given to Lorenzo and Jessica. Bassanio and Gratiano leave for Venice, with money from Portia, to save Antonio's life by offering the money to Shylock. From the very beginning of The Merchant of Venice, we see the comedic element of lovers being separated time and time again. Shylock has Antonio brought before court. [7] English Jews had been expelled under Edward I in 1290 and were not permitted to return until 1656 under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. With money in hand, Bassanio leaves for Belmont with his friend Gratiano, who has asked to accompany him. It was performed in Edinburgh in 1974 and in a revised form at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, in 1977. Despite an initial suggestion that he should be hanged for his attempt to forfeit Antonio’s life, Shylock ends up with a less serious sentence: he loses half of his fortune and has to convert to Christianity. ), Other interpreters of the play regard Auden's conception of Antonio's sexual desire for Bassanio as questionable. In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead. Comedy refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, or in its simplest form comedy is a story with a happy ending. He identifies himself as Balthazar, a young male "doctor of the law", bearing a letter of recommendation to the Duke from the learned lawyer Bellario. Both suitors leave empty-handed, having rejected the lead casket because of the baseness of its material and the uninviting nature of its slogan, "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath". Similarly, it is possible that Shakespeare meant Shylock's forced conversion to Christianity to be a "happy ending" for the character, as, to a Christian audience, it saves his soul and allows him to enter Heaven. Belmont, in contrast, is the land where fairytales come true and romance exists. Though some describe The Merchant of Venice as a comedy because it ends with the marriage of its heroes Portia and Bassanio, it can also be described as a kind of "revenge tragedy." In this case, setting The Merchant of Venice in what felt like the early 20th century seemed more than a little odd, but the artwork is beautifully executed. The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596–97) uses a double plot structure to contrast a tale of romantic wooing with one that comes close to tragedy. [56][57], Arnold Wesker's play The Merchant (1976) is a reimagining of Shakespeare's story.