The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare (1598)
Feel free to use whatever version of the play you like– but remember that class presentations, papers, or other assignments involving the play must use the original language.
Presentations: Wednesday, April 4; Blog posts due: Thursday, April 5
Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing the play. Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.
For the presentations, choose one topic per group. Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.
- How does money affect how people in the play relate to each other? Do you think Shakespeare is making a statement about this?
- A Korean professor once told me that Koreans would find Jessica’s abandonment of her father unacceptable. Are Jessica’s actions justified?
- Why is Shylock treated so badly? He’s mean, but does he deserve what happens to him? Discuss the anti-Semitism of the play.
- In the play, the women seem smarter and in charge. Is this humorous, or do you think Shakespeare is saying something in this?
- Is it right that the women trick the husbands into giving up their rings? What do the rings symbolize?
- Do Jessica and Lorenzo really love each other? Why is this subplot in the play?
- The climax of the play is where Portia, pretending she’s a judge, states that justice should be about mercy. The characters believe Shylock receives mercy at the end; do you agree?
- Most scholars agree that Antonio and Bassanio are simply good friends who show affection for each other. Some think it’s more than just friendship. What do you think?
- Analyze a character or scene in the play you feel is interesting or important.