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The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

William Shakespeare

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15. Juni 2010 1439191166 978-1439191163 Original.
FOLGER Shakespeare Library: the world’s leading center for Shakespeare studies.


Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
• Scene-by-scene plot summaries
• A key to 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
• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare



Mehr über den Autor

Die Welt ist eine Bühne und alle Menschen sind nur Spieler - nach diesem Motto könnte William Shakespeare (1564-1616) gelebt und geschrieben haben. Geboren wurde er in Stratford-upon-Avon, wo er schon früh eine Familie gründete. Später ging er nach London, wo er höchstwahrscheinlich seine weltbekannten Theaterstücke wie "Ein Sommernachtstraum", "Romeo und Julia" oder "Hamlet" schrieb. Sicher überliefert ist jedoch wenig aus dieser Zeit. Ab 1594 war Shakespeare Schauspieler bei den "Lord Chamberlain's Men", die später das "Globe Theatre" bespielten. Übrigens: Auch wenn es wahrscheinlich ist, gilt es nicht als endgültig erwiesen, dass der historische William Shakespeare tatsächlich der Verfasser der die Welt bis heute prägenden Stücke und Sonette ist.



Presents the story of Antonio who risks his life to borrow money from his enemy, Shylock, and is saved by Portia, an heiress posing as a lawyer. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—their older daughter Susanna and the twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent, not in Stratford, but in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Sometime between 1610 and 1613, Shakespeare is thought to have retired from the stage and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  29 Rezensionen
31 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Good Time to Reread This Classic 28. September 2004
Von Richard R - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
"Merchant" is categorized among Shakespeare's comedies, primarily because of the romantic subplot that ends --as most of the Bard's comedies do-- in serial weddings. But, of course, it is far more than a typical romantic comedy. Shakespeare ostensibly intended to write about the complicated theme of exterior versus interior. The value of gold and money against the value of friendship and loyalty. Shylock, the Jewish moneylender is portrayed as greedy and more concerned about his money than he is about his own daughter.

But modern readers have a hard time sympathizing with Antonio the Merchant and his superficial and hateful friends, Bassanio, Gratiano, et al. They are racist, quick to judge, wasteful, and unconcerned about others. They are delighted to treat Shylock like a dog and to invent phony excuses for their own nasty behavior. Shylock is no innocent victim. Indeed, he brings about his own ruin. But in a play whose key passage is Portia's courtroom discourse on the quality of mercy, mercy and justice are hard to find in any character. Shakespeare's language is as powerful as ever in this play, but the unlikeable Shylock and the venom doled out to him by his sordid persecutors makes this play a stomach-churning challenge.
12 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Worth the Rereading 6. Dezember 2005
Von RCM - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I'm not entirely sure how one should set about reviewing a Shakespeare play. I recently reread "The Merchant of Venice" in order to reacquaint myself with the story so that I could read a related book. Despite many critics' beliefs that the play is anti-semetic, "The Merchant of Venice" is a timeless look at the role that material desires can play in our lives.

As one of Shakespeare's comedies, there is sure to be the sub-plots that include romantic intrigue and women in disguise. The play begins with the title merchant Antonio and his friend Bassiano making a deal with Shylock, a rich Jew. The deal is that Shylock will sponsor their merchant ships; if their ships should fail, Shylock can enact his revenge on Antonio by procuring one pound of his flesh. Meanwhile, Bassiano has fallen in love with Portia, a rich heiress, and tries to win her hand, while ultimately making sure that his friend Antonio doesn't lose his to Shylock.

Granted there is mistreatment of Shylock that is rooted in his Jewishness; but the jibes that are directed toward him deal more so with his attitude toward money than to his heritage. For Shylock is more concerned with his money than he is with his daughter; and when she runs away to marry a Christian, his sole concern is the jewels and money she stole from him. Shylock is a hateful man, not because he is a Jew, but because of his actions (and many seem to miss that). When Bassiano and Antonio's venture fails, Antonio is doomed to die at the hand of Shylock. But in typical Shakespearean comedy fashion, a woman in disguise wins the day and defeats Shylock's supposedly ingenous scheme.

I truly believe that some of the best scenes are not those that Shylock is in, yet whenever anyone speaks of "The Merchant of Venice" he is the main name mentioned. The scenes between Portia and her various suitors as they try to solve the riddle to winning her hand tells the reader much about the ways of man's thinking; it is the men who chose gold and silver that cannot court Portia. Rather it is the man who recognizes the worth in all that doesn't glitter who wins the prize.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen It's a Comedy, Honest! 20. Juni 2012
Von Eileen Granfors - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
The Merchant of Venice
(Written and performed in 1596)

In studying this wonderful play, readers make many decisions for themselves. Is it anti-Semitic? Is Bassanio worthy of Portia? Why is Antonio, the protagonist, so reprehensible in many ways to people today?

As with the majority of his other plays, Shakespeare borrowed from sources to create The Merchant of Venice. He interwove them seamlessly, and to some critics, flawlessly, creating a perfect plot. The two Italian short stories he used are "Il Pecorone," the hate story, and "Gesta Romanarum," the love story.

Just as we see and enjoy films with ridiculous and unlikely events, so must we approach The Merchant of Venice with an open mind and eye. A romantic comedy, the play is riddled with events that would not take place in real life. We must willingly accept the suspension of disbelief. In such a play, what should one expect? Romantic carries two meanings: romance for lovers, moonlight and music; but also romance in the other sense of unrealistic, an illusion. It is a comedy. From the introductory lecture you know what that means: no one dies no matter how dire the circumstances. All the lovers marry. And even armed with this knowledge going in, Shakespeare still creates marvelous suspense!

To understand the play, we must first look at the setting. The play is not set in the year it was written. Instead, Shakespeare looks back in time to the beginning of the Renaissance. Venice, a city-state in Italy, was richer than many other countries. It had fallen from this glory by Shakespeare's lifetime.

Venice was a crossroads for Crusaders, a money-lending center of Europe. Only the Jews could loan money for interest since usury is restricted by the New Testament. Thus, Jewish moneylenders were rich and probably notorious for greed, yet by Christian law, usury was the only profession open to Jews, with all others prohibited.

Jews lived apart in the ghetto (the word originates from Italian, gheto, meaning a foundry). They were hated for their isolationism even though this isolation was required by Christian law. Jews wore uniforms even in this time long ago; Hitler did not originate the idea of identifying Jews. They were also hated when bubonic plague swept across Europe, decimating populations. Kosher laws kept Jewish communities relatively cleaner than their Christian neighbors' homes. When the Jewish people did not die in such huge numbers as the Christians, the Christians said that the Jews had caused the plague.

A second setting of the play transports us to Belmont, which contrasts with Venice in its sunny outlooks and musical interludes. It is in Belmont that love blooms.

The characters of the play are relatively straightforward. We should remember the presence of allegory in reading the play, however.
Shylock, the allegory of vengeance, is a Jewish money lender. People associate this play with Shylock although he is not the Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare has given him humanity beyond his allegorical status. Shylock is hated because he is hateful. He is someone who cannot bend for mercy. He insists on the letter of the law; nevertheless, he carries scenes of great sympathy as we watch his treatment at the hands of his Christian neighbors.

Portia, the female protagonist, is the allegory of mercy and a suitable foil to Shylock. She is intelligent and strong, witty and loving. That she falls in love and gives herself in marriage to Bassanio may baffle the women of our era. Bassanio, Portia's suitor, is something of a wastrel, a man with money problems, who will take all of what is Portia's as his own upon marriage. Does he deserve this?

The Merchant of Venice is Antonio, who fits in as the final point of the allegorical triangle. He is the allegory of noble friendship in his willingness to give all he has for his friend, Bassanio. His melancholy temperament and his ill treatment of Shylock make him a rather dark hero.
Other characters in the play include two pairs of lovers. The Christian Lorenzo loves the Jewish Jessica, daughter of Shylock. Jessica is a beautiful girl, one who utters the famous line, "Love is blind." This love affair gives Shylock another reason to hate the Christians. Nerissa, Portia's lady-in-waiting, is suitably quick and warm. Her instantaneous love and marriage to a lout, Gratiano, is simply part of the play.
We come to the question that pervades the play today, causing some to choose not to teach the play at all. Is this play anti-Semitic? Harold Bloom argues yes, by all the standards of Shakespeare's time. I disagree with Bloom as noted below.

The play has a happy ending, an ending we might not agree with, but happy nonetheless. Shakespeare has humanized Shylock, earning our sympathy and understanding. He does not parade Shylock as his contemporaries paraded their Jewish villains, as comic characters with red beards and wigs and red, huge noses.

Christianity is the norm. Shylock is outside the norm. Shakespeare himself knew no practicing Jews, for they had been expelled from England by edict in 1290 under Edward I and did not return until Cromwell's Commonwealth if 1655. Though there were non-practicing Jews in England, Shakespeare had no personal ax to grind with them.
One last note, the motifs. Motifs unify each play. The Merchant of Venice includes motifs of music (who has it is good, who lacks it is bad), good and bad gold, nature and animals. Most important are the motifs of the meaning of justice and vengeance and also the dictum that one must give and hazard all for love. With these in mind, happy reading!

I taught Shakespeare online for several years. This play was one of the students' favorites. This lecture, posted to Amazon by the writer, will be part of my introductory book about Shakespeare, anon.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen An Indictment of Both Religions? 15. November 2007
Von Jeff Woodmansee - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
One cannot read Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice without realizing the significance that religion takes in the play, specifically the portrayal of the Jewish and Christian characters. When we first encounter the play's principal Jew, Shylock, we can only feel resentment towards him for the way he carries himself and conducts his business. Then, when first exposed to the play's principal Christian characters--Antonio, Bassanio, and Portia--the audience likely feels sympathetic towards them because of their unfortunate run-ins with the villainous Shylock. But I wonder if this is a truly accurate reading of the play. It appears that critics are divided on whether Shakespeare was further advancing anti-Semitism existent at the time by depicting Shylock in denigrating stereotypes throughout the play or whether he was actually condemning anti-Semitic behavior by turning Shylock into a sympathetic figure by the play's end. It is my contention that Shakespeare is merely reflecting societal norms at the time as he indicts religion altogether.

Though we cannot forget Shylock's appeal to humanity in his "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech, nor Portia's appeal for mercy at the court trial, there is far too much evidence of misdeeds and hypocrisy by all of these characters to think Shakespeare is "picking sides" in this battle of religions. Shylock's greed and need for revenge are certainly damning portrayals of his faith given how religious he claims to be. But given the "holier-than-thou" attitude's of Venice's Christians and their hypocritical actions to the contrary of their religion, it is clear to me Shakespeare has a major problem with Christians who "talk the talk" but do not "walk the walk." I will discuss the villainous representation of Shylock, then analyze the hypocrisy of the play's primary Christian characters and will question if these Christians embody the righteous example of which they speak.

The portrayal of Shylock is paramount throughout the play, mainly because we are torn between disliking him for his cruelty on one hand and empathizing with him because of the abuse he suffers on the other. When Shylock enters the play in the Act 1, Bassanio is trying to get a loan from him using Antonio's credit because he needs a large sum of money so he can appropriately woo Portia. There is certainly no denying Shylock's passion for accumulating wealth. The other characters frequently comment on Shylock's greed throughout the play, and he even tells his daughter that he dreams about moneybags. Shylock suffers ridicule from the Christian community because he charges high interest rates on loans, but also because he is a Jew, comparable to a dog or the devil in their eyes. As Shylock considers the loan, he seems more interested in having Antonio bound to him than with the loan itself, and we soon learn of Antonio and Shylock's mutual resentment. Shylock is hesitant to help Antonio out because Antonio has hurt his own business dealings in the past by lending money at no charge, but also because he is a Christian. The evidence of Shylock's greed continues to mount. In Act 2, Solanio describes "the dog Jew" running through the streets of Venice and crying more earnestly for his lost ducats than for his lost daughter (who has ended their relationship, married a Christian and converted to Christianity, further enraging her estranged father).

Beginning in Act 3 and continuing into the first parts of Act 4, Shylock repeats statements like "I will have my bond"--the dubious "pound of flesh" from Antonio's body. Shylock's repetitions of his claim turn into a death chant of sorts for Antonio since he is now unable repay the loan. When asked what he plans to do with Antonio's piece of flesh since it's obviously worthless to him Shylock replies, "To bait fish withal...if it will feed nothing else it will feed my revenge" (Act 3, Scene 1, lines 45-46). We can now see Shylock eagerly awaiting his chance to kill Antonio and get his symbolic revenge on all the town's Christians, whom he despises.

Despite Portia's famed speech at the dramatic trial in Act 4, in which she lectures about Christian goodness and "the quality of mercy," Shylock refuses to show Antonio mercy. He claims he "craves the law" (Scene 1, line 203) and will not be merciful and forgiving to Antonio, and no one can change his mind. All of these incidents are constant reinforcements of Shylock's bitterness and cold-heartedness, which has been shown throughout the play, and which are clearly not in line with the virtuous nature of Judaism.

Of course we know that there is an unexpected change of events about to happen to Shylock. Instead of having his bond, we find that Shylock's bond with Antonio is impossible to recover since he may not shed a drop of Antonio's Christian blood in the process. Portia then orders Shylock's property seized and "mercifully" allows him to convert to Christianity rather being executed for attempting to take the life of a fellow Venetian, seemingly "delivering" him from his Jewishness. But up until Shylock's sentencing, we might be somewhat content with the depictions of the evil Jew and the righteous Christians. But as we examine Act 4 (and the entire play) more closely, we are forced to recognize that perhaps Shylock is actually a victim of the hypocritical Christian society in which he lives. Being able to read this play in a post-Holocaust and post-Civil Rights Movement world, we cannot help but have some empathy towards Shylock for the way he is treated, though clearly he is not a very virtuous man in his own right.

To analyze Christian hypocrisy in this play, it is necessary to go back to Portia's dramatic speech given at the trial, discussed previously. Portia preaches about the blessings of showing mercy, almost playing the role of a preacher. But if we retrace her steps back to Act 1, we hear Portia confessing to Christian hypocrisy. "Portia alludes to the familiar commonplace of the breach between Christian precept and practice" (Hassel, 117). This assertion comes from the following passage spoken by Portia:

"If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty that were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching" (Act 1, Scene 2, lines 11-15).

The primary Christian characters of this play are representative of the people living at the time. Antonio, the merchant of Venice himself, has a great reputation among his fellow Christians who see him as a righteous and self-sacrificing citizen and friend. His bigotry towards Jews is not frowned upon because all of the others share his belief. Behind Shylock's back, Antonio ridicules him as a moneylender, but then enters into a loan agreement with him anyway. Antonio shows no mercy to Shylock when Portia pronounces his sentence. If Antonio were a genuine Christian, would he not have humbly accepted his acquittal then tried to reconcile his differences with Shylock? Instead, Antonio agrees to take half of Shylock's possessions without objection, thus eliminating his main business rival. These actions (along with Antonio's berating of Shylock) are not of Christian compassion and mercy but of selfishness and religious hypocrisy.

Now I briefly turn to Bassanio. Bassanio is portrayed as a bit of a playboy--squandering all he has, refusing to work and willing to beg for financial assistance. He is more than willing to marry Portia for financial gain. He certainly has a tendency toward materialism and consumption, which are not Christian values. Although Bassanio does not really victimize Shylock in the same way the others do, his lifestyle does tarnish the religious credibility of the Christian community.

Now I turn to Portia, who embodies this hypocritical Christian nature and does not practice what she preaches. We are clued in to her racism as she complains about one of her suitors for marriage, the dark-skinned Prince from Morocco. Portia makes the comment "If he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me" (Act 1, Scene 2, line 33). "Portia knows it is a sin to be a mocker, but she mocks her suitors anyway" (Hassel, 114). Portia instead settles for the gold-digging Bassanio.

Although Portia's "quality of mercy" speech sounds like a wonderful description of Christian values, it is really an ironic display of Christian talking points versus actual practice. As I mentioned earlier, Portia's words do not correlate with her deeds. She tricks Shylock in this scene, first by disguising her character, then by turning the perceived law against him, leaving him a shell of his former self while enriching her friends. Shylock's life is completely ruined and she makes an even bigger mockery of his religion. Portia appears spiteful, not compassionate, and certainly does not come off as a merciful Christian.

Though Shakespeare is a tough read for me, I think I finally came to an understanding about what this play was really trying to convey. At first glance, you find yourself hating Shylock and admiring Antonio, Bassanio, and Portia. Later, you find yourself empathizing with Shylock because of the hypocrisy of the Christian characters. While the critics have argued it both ways, I truly feel that Shakespeare is merely commenting on society as he then saw it, which turns out to be a strong indictment of both religions--or at least how their virtues are carried out by their followers.
6 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen -The individual Jewish reader's relation to great works of Western Literature with Anti- Semitic elements 22. Januar 2006
Von Shalom Freedman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I would rather not write this review, or have to relate to the question it raises for me. For that question has been with me most of my adult life. It relates to the question of whether or not it is moral for me as a Jew to read, take pleasure in works of 'high culture' works of even 'greatness' when these have Anti- Semitic elements in them.

The problem is especially acute in regard to this greatest of all human dramatists Shakespeare. From a quite early age Shakespeare's work, especially 'Hamlet' 'Lear' and 'Macbeth' have been sources of uplift and inspiration to me. I have to come know myself and my world better through them.

And Shakespeare the greatest and most admired of writers is of course in Borges words, 'the creator who after God created most'.

How then reconcile this admiration with the knowledge that one of Shakespeare's great plays has as its heart a villain , an object of scorn and ridicule, whose villainy is bound up essentially with his Jewishness?

Here I must say that though I have tried very hard to be on the side of those who believe Shakespeare fundamentally stressed this great speech :

" Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs

dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with

the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject

to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means

warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer

as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you

poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? "

I have in my reading and watching the play come to the conclusion that Shakespeare could accept a Jew as fully human only if he converted to Christianity.

This great play then can be witnessed by me only with a feeling of anger, humiliation and pain.
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