The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Selected by Erin Ranney
The Merchant of Venice is a play by Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Classified as a comedy in the First Folio, and while it shares certain aspects with Shakespeare’s other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps more remembered for its dramatic scenes, and is best known for Shylock and the ‘pound of flesh’. The play’s anti-semitic tendency gained more attention after the Holocaust, for example in a production by George Tabori.
The title character is the merchant Antonio, not the Jewish moneylender Shylock, who is the play’s most prominent and more famous character. This is made explicit by the title page of the first quarto: The moſt excellent Hiſtorie of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of Shylock the Iewe towards the ſayd Merchant, in cutting a iuſt pound of his fleſh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyſe of three cheſts.
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