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William Shakespeare – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE : Collins Classics


William Shakespeare


The Play Is Set In Venice & Follows The Story of A Merchant Named Antonio Who Defaults On A Loan Provided By A Jewish Moneylender Named Shylock

ISBN 9780007925476
Book Condition BRAND NEW
Publisher William Collins (HarperCollins Publishers)
Publication Date 12 September 2013
Pages 144
Weight 0.20 kg
Dimension 18 × 11 × 1 cm
Availability: 1 in stock

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1 in stock

  • Detail Description


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‘The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven’
“The Merchant of Venice” is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599. It is a tragicomedy that explores themes such as love, justice, prejudice, and the complex interplay between mercy and vengeance. It is renowned for its dramatic courtroom scene and its multifaceted characters. The play’s portrayal of Shylock has sparked extensive discussions and interpretations regarding anti-Semitism, making it one of Shakespeare’s most thought-provoking works.

Bassiano, a noble Venetian, hopes to woo the beautiful heiress Portia. However, he requires financial assistance from his friend Antonio. Antonio agrees, but he, in turn, must borrow from the Jewish moneylender Shylock. As recourse for past ills, Shylock stipulates that the forfeit on the loan must be a pound of Antonio’s flesh. In the most renowned onstage law scene of all time, Portia proves herself one of Shakespeare’s most cunning heroines, disguising herself as a lawyer and vanquishing Shylock’s claims; meanwhile, Shylock triumphs on a humanitarian level with his plea for tolerance: ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’
The play’s central plot involves Bassanio borrowing money from Antonio to court Portia, a wealthy heiress. Antonio borrows 3,000 ducats from Shylock, with a pound of his own flesh as collateral, as he has no money at hand. Meanwhile, Shylock harbors a deep grudge against Antonio, fueled by religious and personal animosity.
As the story unfolds, Portia disguises herself as a male lawyer and intervenes in the trial to save Antonio from Shylock’s bond. She cleverly manipulates the legal proceedings to ensure Antonio’s release. In a subplot, Jessica and Lorenzo elope, further infuriating Shylock.
In the end, the play explores themes of justice and mercy. Shylock’s demand for a pound of Antonio’s flesh is turned against him, and he is forced to convert to Christianity. Portia and Nerissa also trick their husbands by disguising themselves, which adds an element of comedy to the play.
“The Merchant of Venice” has been the subject of much debate and controversy due to its treatment of Shylock, a Jewish character, and the themes of prejudice and discrimination. While it is considered one of Shakespeare’s great works, it has also been criticized for its portrayal of Shylock, and interpretations of the play have evolved over time to address these concerns.
The play is known for its memorable characters, famous speeches, and enduring themes, making it a significant part of Shakespeare’s literary legacy. Viewed paradoxically as anti-Semitic, while at the same time powerfully liberal for its time, The Merchant of Venice is at its core a bittersweet drama, exploring the noble themes of prejudice, justice and honour.
“The Merchant of Venice” is a complex play with multiple intertwining plots. Here is a detailed plot summary:
● Act 1:
☞ Antonio, a wealthy Venetian merchant, is melancholic without apparent reason.
☞ His friend Bassanio seeks financial assistance from Antonio to court Portia, a wealthy heiress. Antonio has no money to spare, so they decide to borrow 3,000 ducats from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender.
☞ Shylock harbors a deep grudge against Antonio due to Antonio’s past mistreatment of him because of his religion.
● Act 2:
☞ Bassanio arrives at Portia’s estate for the casket (box) test, a challenge set by Portia’s late father to find the suitor worthy of her. He chooses the correct casket, and they agree to marry.
☞ Lorenzo and Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, elope, taking money and precious jewels with them.
☞ News arrives that Antonio’s ships have been lost at sea, jeopardizing his ability to repay the debt to Shylock.
● Act 3:
☞ Antonio’s inability to repay Shylock on time leads to a courtroom trial.
☞ Portia, disguised as a male lawyer, and her maid, Nerissa, arrive to defend Antonio. They manipulate the trial to Shylock’s disadvantage by insisting on the strict enforcement of the contract, which entitles him to a pound of Antonio’s flesh if the debt is not repaid.
☞ Portia delivers the famous “quality of mercy” speech, imploring Shylock to show compassion, but he remains adamant.
☞ In the end, Antonio is saved when Portia discovers a loophole in the contract: it allows Shylock to take a pound of flesh but forbids the shedding of a drop of Antonio’s blood. Shylock is forced to renounce his faith, convert to Christianity, and forfeit his wealth.
● Act 4:
☞ The play shifts focus to romantic resolutions. Bassanio and Portia, as well as Gratiano (Bassanio’s friend) and Nerissa, get married.
☞ Lorenzo and Jessica return to Belmont and join the celebration.
☞ Antonio’s fortune is restored as it is revealed that his ships were not lost after all.
● Act 5:
☞ The play ends with the reunion of all the characters at Belmont for a joyful celebration.
☞ It is a time of reconciliation and happiness, although Shylock’s conversion remains a somber note.
Overall, “The Merchant of Venice” is a complex and nuanced play that explores themes of justice, mercy, and prejudice. It features memorable characters and an intricate plot, and it has been adapted into numerous film and stage productions.
About The Author :
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare’s tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.
Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.
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