The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed plays. Though written more than 400 years ago, the play's concerns--anti-Semitism, homosexuality, materialism, usury, the law, and the sincerity of love--continue to resonate in contemporary culture. Shylock, one of the most memorable characters in literature, has been discussed at length and continues to fascinate readers and scholars, yet relatively few works have been published on the play as a whole. This reference is a comprehensive introduction to the play, its themes and contexts, its critical reception, and its performance history.
The volume begins with a discussion of the play's creation and textual history. It then examines Shakespeare's sources and analogues, considering how he drew upon and modified available material. A plot summary follows, along with an analysis of the play's characters and language. The book then examines the play's themes and overviews its critical reception and performance history. An annotated bibliography concludes the volume.