Merchant Of Venice Cass Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Feb 1 1991
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"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?" Shylock's impassioned plea in the middle of The Merchant of Venice is one of its most dramatic moments. After the Holocaust, the play has become a battleground for those who argue that the play represents Shakespeare's ultimate statement against ignorance and anti-Semitism in favour of a liberal vision of tolerance and multiculturalism. Other critics have pointed out that the play is, after all, a comedy that ultimately pokes fun at a 16th-century Jew. In fact, the bare outline of the plot suggests that the play is far more complex than either of these characterisations. Bassanio, a feckless young Venetian, asks his wealthy friend, the merchant Antonio, for money to finance a trip to woo the beautiful Portia in Belmont. Reluctant to refuse his friend (to whom he professes intense love), Antonio borrows the money from the Jewish moneylender. If he reneges on the deal, Shylock jokingly demands a pound of his flesh. When all Antonio's ships are lost at sea, Shylock calls in his debt, and the love and laughter of the first scenes of the play threaten to give way to death and tragedy. The final climactic courtroom scene, complete with a cross-dressed Portia, a knife-wielding Shylock, and the debate on "the quality of mercy" is one of the great dramatic moments in Shakespeare. The controversial subject matter of the play ensures that it continues to repel, divide but also fascinate its many audiences. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
'The introduction and commentary reveal an author with a lively awareness of the importance of perceiving the play as a theatrical document, one which comes to life, which is completed only in performance ...' The Review of English Studies --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
'To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. 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 villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.'
Think about it. That speech is a masterpiece. One of Shakespeare's best plays.
I think the racism in the play spoiled what would have been a funny and enjoyable read. I was trying to convince myself that Shakespeare was not trying to group all Jews together and that Shylock was just a greedy and unfeeling person who just happened to be Jewish. This is all very hard to do looking back from our time at all the atrocities committed against the Jews because of such racist propaganda (even the unknowingly racist).
Another thing I have issue with is Portia's testing of her husband to see whether he is faithful, and the fact that she forged a document, plus she impersonated another person , lied about devoting her time to God etc... It lessens her status as a heroine and makes her out to be worse than Shylock in that she employed questionable techniques to free the Merchant of Venice; Antonio. The end never justifies the means.
The only real hero in this play, to me was Antonio, although I think Shakespeare made his character to be less realistic with his lack of conflict and complete goodness, a trait that is hard to find in human beings.
All these are my opinions and I think you have to read the play itself to determine whether it is racist. On the upside, the story is interesting and full of suspense (for something of its length) and very funny in parts. Check out Portia's description of her suitors for example. All in all, a good play but definitely not his best because of the racism and the lifeless Merchant of Venice.
I read MoV for a Bar Mitzvah project on Anti-Semitism. Naturally, my sympathies went to Shylock. However, even if i were Christian, i still would've favored Shylock. What many people believe is that Shylock is a cold hearted ruthless person and only wanted to get back at Antonio because Antonio was a Christian.
Not true. Shylock specifically says something along the lines off, "Why should I lend money to you? You spit on me, and call me a Jewish dog!" I'm not saying that Shylock was a good guy, but I am saying that he is not the villain.
In fact, the "Merchant of Venice," in this story is actually Shylock, not Antonio, contrary to popular belief. My thoughts on the story was that Shylock requested a pound of Antonio's flesh because he did not trust Antonio. Who would trust someone that spat on him? The fact is, Antonio doesn't pay him back in the end.
Now, there's always something else we have to put into consideration. Would the judge had given the "spill one ounce of Christian blood" verdict at the end if Shylock were not a Jew?
This is the mark of a great play. A play that really gets you thinking. But I encourage you, I beg of you, that when you read it or see it, please do not hold Shylock up to being a cold hearted villain. Hold Antonio up to that image. (joking, of course, Antonio's not a bad guy, he's just not a good guy.)
I recommend this play to others and also all of Shakespeare's other plays. If you can get into them they are good reads.
Most recent customer reviews
The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, is a play that many readers will enjoy. Although this play may seem lighthearted, it addresses important themes and reflects... Read morePublished on May 17 2004 by Aysha
this is a very difficult play to watch or read. while shakespeare may have intended shylock to be a villain, to a modern sensibility, he is the victim of society's racism. Read morePublished on May 3 2003
Till today, every pen-stroke William Shakespeare made draws respect. This "Merchant Of Venice" is no exception. The story remains tasty despite its age. Read morePublished on April 4 2003 by reviewer
The New Folger Library delivers again. I will not buy any Shakespeare from any other publisher - Signet Classics or anyone else. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2002 by Chris Salzer
This is a wonderful play - and unless you have seen it or read it you don't know it at all. That's because everything the popular culture tells us about this play is false (for... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2002 by Tom Blair
A person is not born to the side of good or evil, rather, their character is shaped by their environment. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2001 by Emma
This play can be read as anti-semitic. In fact, it's pretty hard to defend it from such charges. Shylock is a pretty rotten character and the fact that he is jewish is difficult... Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2001
This may be the most controversial (to modern culture) play that Shakespeare wrote. It deals with the racial disparities popularly belived in Shakespeare's day to exist between... Read morePublished on July 20 2001 by Yan Timanovsky
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