The Merchant of Venice: A Guide to the Play

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 273 pages


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.

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Contents

Textual History
1
Contexts and Sources
29
Dramatic Structure
53
Characters
83
Themes
119
Critical Approaches
149
The Play in Performance
199
Selected Annotated Bibliography
251
Index
267
Copyright

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Page 87 - Happy in this, she is not yet so old But she may learn; happier than this, She is not bred so dull but she can learn; Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit Commits itself to yours to be directed, As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Page 107 - I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following ; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you.
Page 111 - You have among you many a purchased slave, Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules, You use in abject and in slavish parts, Because you bought them...
Page 18 - Shakespeare is above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of Nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life.
Page 134 - I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano ; A stage, where every man must play a part, And mine a sad one.
Page 130 - I dislike ; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father.
Page 86 - If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.
Page 4 - James Robertes Entred for his copie vnder the handes of bothe the wardens, a booke of the Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce. PROUIDED that yt bee not prynted by the said James Robertes or anye other whatsoeuer without lycence first had from the Right honorable the lord Chamberlen vjd The proviso in this entry is noteworthy.
Page 68 - If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility ? revenge : If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example ? why, revenge. The villainy, you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.
Page 138 - The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted.

About the author (2003)

VICKI K. JANIK is Associate Professor of Humanities at the State University of New York at Farmingdale, where she has taught a variety of courses in Shakespeare, drama, and technical communications since 1987. Her previous books include Modern British Women Writers: An A-to-Z Guide (Greenwood, 2002) and Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History (Greenwood, 1998).

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