ENG150 Merchant of Venice lecture 1 Jan 28, 2012
- This play is presented as a comedy yet it has some Shakespearian tragedy
factors. It is also a problem play since in some way, it is quite realistic but it is
based around mythic fairytale factors.
- It is primarily problematic due to the representation of the main Jewish character.
- Is it anti-Semitic or is it not? It has strong anti-Semitic energies.
- Venice is a place where people of different backgrounds and cultures meet.
- People of Venice are known. For instance, the Venetian Giovanni Cabetto (John
Cabot) discovered Newfoundland.
- Africans, Turks, Spanish, Turks, etc are found in Venice. It is where cultural
- Merchant of Venice moves back and forth from the city of Venice (people are
known for trade and are elite) and the Villa at Belmont (aristocratic)
- Several of suitors come for Porshia since her father wants her to get married.
Frenchmen, Englishmen, Scottish, and German men came but left since they wre
not able to succeed. They didn’t want to take upon the trial of the casket.
- The audience is being led to think that the characters are Italians even though
the play is written in English.
- The play deals with the portrayal of Italians and they are presented different than
English. There is a distancing affect. The main characters are culturally different
and it is working in a lot of different ways in this play.
- Aragon from Spain, a Venetian, and Morocco (black guy) are willing to take on
the trial of the casket.
- The Italian characters do not mention saints; Antonio doesn’t make confession
before he dies, etc. Religion is more of a cultural background for them.
- The anti-Semitism and the attempt to lay the logic of intolerance is with a wider
sense of multiple cultural differences.
- Merchants in the early modern period, put their capitals in many different ships
so if one goes down, their capitals that are put in the other ships still remain.
Thus, exposure to danger can be divided up