"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.
The Merchant of Venice has been performed more often than any other comedy by Shakespeare. This edition pays special attention to the expectations of its first audience, and to our modern experience of seeing and hearing the play. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
This is one of Shakespeare's darkest comedies, for the romantic story of a young man, Bassanio, who has squandered his fortune and must borrow money to woo the wealthy lady he loves is set against the most disturbing story of the Jewish moneylender Shylock and his demand for the "pound of flesh" owed him by the Venetian merchant, Antonio, who has fallen into Shylock's debt. Here pathos and farce combine with moral complexity and romantic entanglement to display the extraordinary power and range of Shakespeare at his best. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Although this play is a romantic comedy, as the story of a young merchant who cannot repay a debt to vindictive money lender, it has a very dark obstacle in the character of Shylock, one of the most vivid and memorable characters in Shakespeare's works.
The CliffsComplete The Merchant of Venice is a revised and expanded study edition. It contains Shakespeare's original play, a glossary, and expert commentary in a unique, 2-column format. To enhance your learning, notes and definitions appear directly opposite the line in which they occur, and a review section follows the play. This edition also introduces you to the life, works, and times of William Shakespeare. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
William Shakespeare lived between 1552-1616, but his work endures and is enjoyed the world over.
Since Charles Lamb first did it back in 1803, many writers have tried to adapt the plays of the Bard into prose for young readers. Leon Garfield has done it as well as anyone, and his two volumes of Shakespeare Stories form the basis for these marvelous recordings from the UK. The program includes an introduction to Shakespeare, a brief plot summary and a final essay called "Shakespeare Today." It's a complete package that will help orient young people experiencing the plays for the first time. Garfield's stories are exquisitely written and, while most of the language is modern, they retain the most famous speeches from the original plays, such as Shylock's "Hath not a Jew eyes?" Clare Higgins and Simon Russell Beale, who share billing on the entire series, are both actors with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and their comfort with the material shows in their flawless narrations. The Chivers series is ideal for students 10 and up although, like all great children's literature, it's certainly suitable for adults--Particularly those who want to brush up before seeing a performance, or those just looking to revisit the plays. D.B. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award. (c) AudioFile, Portland, Maine