The Merchant of Venice

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    The Merchant of Venice   Merchant. From the Roxburghe Ballads. University of Victoria Library. Love and economics are intertwined in a story that climaxes in a courtroom showdown. An often uncomfortable comedy The Merchant of Venice  is !nown for its shar division between the commercial world of Venice and the seemingly idyllic world of Belmont. A modern reader will be engaged by#ha!es eare$s ortrait of the %ewish merchant #hyloc! and the overtones of anti&semitism in the lay 'whether these attitudes were #ha!es eare$s or those of some of the characters in the lay(. Legal comedy #ha!es eare wrote several lays that hinge on the fair administration of laws and es ecially on the conflicting demands of )ustice and mercy. The Comedy of Errors  and  Measure for Measure    along with The Merchant of Venice  are comedies that contain the ossibility of a rotagonist getting !illed because of an inflexible law.#ha!es eare$s solution in The Merchant of Venice  is similar to that of many modern *courtroom dramas*+ an ins ired lawyer 'really ,ortia in disguise( gets Bassanio off on a technicality. As well as being highly dramatic the scene ex lores in some of #ha!es eare$s finest language the debate between the seemingly conflicting demands of )ustice and mercy. ,aradoxically ,ortia leads elo-uently for mercy but seems merciless herself when #hyloc! fails to res ond.    Order in the sexes Adam and ve '/etail(. #aenredam.Art 0allery of 0reater Victoria   . #eethe full image   . 1he conce t of e-uality between the sexes would have seemed very foreign to most in #ha!es eare$s day+ Adam was created first and ve from his  body2 she was created s ecifically to give him comfort and was to be subordinate to him to obey him and to acce t her lesser status. A dominant woman was unnatural a sym tom of   disorder .1he medieval church had inculcated a view of women that was s lit  between the ideal of the Virgin Mary and her fallible counter art ve or her anti&ty e the3hore of Babylon4   . Unfortunately the Virgin Mary was one of a !ind so there was often a general distrust of women2 Renaissance and Medieval literature is often misogynistic.5ueen li6abeth cultivated the view that she was the ideal2 %oan of Arc on the other hand 'at least in #ha!es eare$s lay  Henry VI, Part One),  was seen as adevil4. 'More on *disorderly* forms of sexuality4    in the Renaissance.(1he acce ted hierarchy of the sexes was so much ta!en for granted that it influenced even the literature of   farming   .  Shylock and depictions of Jews #hyloc! resents a difficult roblem for many modern audiences and critics.7s he a stereoty ical *%ew* similar toMarlowe$s villain Barrabas from The  Jew of Malta  or is he a sym athetic figure intended to critici6e the anti&#emitism of #ha!es eare$s time8 9om licating this -uestion is the modern tendency to want to elevate #ha!es eare above the re)udices of his time.3e can say with certainty that #hyloc! is not without motivation. :is treatment at the hands of the 9hristian merchants is decidedly un&9hristian+ they s it on him call him a dog and finally ta!e half his money and force him to convert. All this in s ite of #hyloc!$s famous lea for sym athy+ Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affectations, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? (! !#$%&' Love and money *Angels* && coins illustrating #t. Michael. The Merchant of Venice  is ambivalent in its resentation of merchants in love. Bassanio$s love for ,ortia is at least in art motivated by financial need. #he is an attractive woman but she also has enough money to ay Bassanio$s debts. Marriage is resented not only as a union of two eo le in love but also as a union of their wealth and ro erty. 9om are too the love of %essica and Loren6o where the young lovers ra idly s end the money.%essica in effect steals from her father.7n ;<=; a law was assed allowing the ayment of u to ;>? interest on loans. 1he effect of the law was actually to reduce interest rates2 by ma!ing interest legal the blac! mar!et rates that revailed earlier&& which were much higher&&became unnecessary.  As the age became more de endent on money and ca ital credit and interest&bearing loans became more fre-uent. Antonio in The Merchant of Venice,  would have been very much the exce tion in #ha!es eare$s nglandlending out money gratis and thus bringing down the rate of *usance* in Venice 'see ;.@.;&(. The settings: Venice and Belmont Venice. Re roduced in Social Enland   ed. :./.1raill. University of Victoria Library. #ha!es eare ma!es use of two distinct settings for The Merchant of Venice . Venice as in #ha!es eare$s time is the city of commerce where wealth flows in and out with each visiting shi . Venice is also a cosmo olitan city at the frontier of 9hristendom beyond which lies Asia Africa and the Cttoman m ire. #ociety in Venice is a redominantly male world where the single female %essica is loc!ed u in her house and can only esca e in disguise as a male.Belmont on the other hand is the home of ,ortia and her mysterious cas!ets. 7t is a lace of romance and festivity to which the victorious 9hristians retire at the end of the lay. Li!e the forests in  !s ou #i$e  It   and  ! Midsummer %iht&s 'ream  Belmont is an ideali6ed *green world* that is removed from the ruthlessness of the real world. Unli!e Venice it is controlled by women 'though ,ortia$s dead father lingers(.
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