COMICS!!! Merchant of Venice by Marius Marmakas

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Key Facts

Full title • The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice, or Otherwise Called the Jew of Venice
author • William Shakespeare
type of work • Play
genre • Comedy
language • English
time and place written • 1598; London, England
date of first publication • First published in the Quarto of 1600
publisher • I. R. for Thomas Heys
tone • Comic, romantic, tragic
setting (time) • Sixteenth century
setting (place) • Venice and Belmont, Italy
protagonist • There is no clear protagonist. Antonio is the merchant of the play’s title, but he plays a relatively passive role. The major struggles of the play are Bassanio’s quest to marry Portia and his attempt to free Antonio from Shylock, so Bassanio is the likeliest candidate.
major conflict • Antonio defaults on a loan he borrowed from Shylock, wherein he promises to sacrifice a pound of flesh.
rising action • Antonio’s ships, the only means by which he can pay off his debt to Shylock, are reported lost at sea.
climax • Portia, disguised as a man of law, intervenes on Antonio’s behalf.
falling action • Shylock is ordered to convert to Christianity and bequeath his possessions to Lorenzo and Jessica; Portia and Nerissa persuade their husbands to give up their rings
themes • Self-interest versus love; the divine quality of mercy; hatred as a cyclical phenomenon
motifs • The law; cross-dressing; filial piety
symbols • The pound of flesh; Leah’s ring; the three caskets
foreshadowing • In the play’s opening scene, Shakespeare foreshadows Antonio’s grim future by suggesting both his indebtedness to a creditor and the loss of his valuable ships.

12 thoughts on “COMICS!!! Merchant of Venice by Marius Marmakas

  1. “When we see Shylock in Act III, scene i, he seems more hurt by the fact that his daughter sold a ring that was given to him by his dead wife before they were married than he is by the loss of the ring’s monetary value. Some human relationships do indeed matter to Shylock more than money. Moreover, his insistence that he have a pound of flesh rather than any amount of money shows that his resentment is much stronger than his greed.”


  2. The lost ring allows us to see Shylock in an uncharacteristically vulnerable position and to view him as a human being capable of feeling something more than anger. Although Shylock and Tubal discuss the ring for no more than five lines, the ring stands as an important symbol of Shylock’s humanity, his ability to love, and his ability to grieve:)


  3. “The pound of flesh that Shylock seeks lends itself to multiple interpretations: it emerges most as a metaphor for two of the play’s closest relationships, but also calls attention to Shylock’s inflexible adherence to the law. The fact that Bassanio’s debt is to be paid with Antonio’s flesh is significant, showing how their friendship is so binding it has made them almost one. Shylock’s determination is strengthened by Jessica’s departure, as if he were seeking recompense for the loss of his own flesh and blood by collecting it from his enemy. Lastly, the pound of flesh is a constant reminder of the rigidity of Shylock’s world, where numerical calculations are used to evaluate even the most serious of situations. Shylock never explicitly demands that Antonio die, but asks instead, in his numerical mind, for a pound in exchange for his three thousand ducats. Where the other characters measure their emotions with long metaphors and words, Shylock measures everything in far more prosaic and numerical quantities.”



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