The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library)
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In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father’s will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails, he may never marry at all.
Bassanio and Portia also face a magnificent villain, the moneylender Shylock. In creating Shylock, Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread prejudice against Jews. Shylock would have been regarded as a villain because he was a Jew. Yet he gives such powerful expression to his alienation due to the hatred around him that, in many productions, he emerges as the hero.
Portia is most remembered for her disguise as a lawyer, Balthazar, especially the speech in which she urges Shylock to show mercy that “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”
The authoritative edition of The Merchant of Venice from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Newly revised explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An up-to-date annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Alexander Leggatt
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
great/magnificent quantity/size of expenditure 130 fairly off ϭ (1) decently/properly, (2) fully away/out 131 wherein my time ϭ in which my period/interval 132 something too prodigal ϭ rather too extravagant* 133 pledged, mortgaged 134 because of 135 implied contract/guarantee (i.e., to Antonio, both as his warm friend and his largest creditor) 136 disclose 137 plans 138 I pray you ϭ please 139 always? as yet? (the former more likely, but the latter not impossible) 140 recognition
you? Should I not say, Hath a dog money? Is it possible 115 A cur should lend three thousand ducats? Or 84 scolded, reproved 85 plural of “money” (most often used today in legal documents) 86 always, yet 87 endured 88 patient endurance, long-suffering 89 emblem, sign ( Jews were often required to wear badges identifying them as Jews) 90 heretic, infidel 91 murderous 92 loose upper garment of coarse cloth 93 go to ϭ come on 94 wish to 95 empty, discharge 96 mucous (“spit”) 97 kick
huge feeder, Snail-slow in profit,33 and he sleeps by day More than the wildcat.34 Drones hive not35 with me, Therefore I part with him, and part with him To one that I would have him help to waste 50 His borrowed purse.36 Well, Jessica go in, Perhaps I will return immediately. Do as I bid you, shut doors after you. 25 shallow foppery ϭ superficial folly/affectation 26 “With my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands [companies, troops]” (Gen. 32:10) 27 desire,
when it is deliberately unoriginal, as it is in Shylock. Hamlet and Falstaff contain us to our enrichment. Shylock has the strength to contain us to our destruction. Something of the same could be said for Angelo, in Measure for Measure, or of Malvolio, in Twelfth Night, or of nearly everyone in Troilus. History renders Shylock’s strength as representation socially destructive, whereas Angelo and Malvolio inhabit the shadows of the individual consciousness. I conclude by noting that Shakespeare’s
Peter. Shakespeare’s Professional Career. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Webster, Margaret. Shakespeare without Tears. New York:Whittlesey House, 1942. Weimann, Robert . Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater: Studies in the Social Dimension of Dramatic Form and Function. Edited by Robert Schwartz. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. Wikander, Matthew H. The Play of Truth and State: Historical Drama from Shakespeare to Brecht. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins