Merchant of Venice
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Shylock and History by Jami Rogers Towering over Shakespeare's romantic comedy The Merchant of Venice is the tragic figure of Shylock. Before we can begin to understand Shylock, though, we must understand the historical and dramatic influences under which Shakespeare wrote.
The Merchant of Venice, even in its own time, was considered Shakespeare's most controversial play.
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Written sometime between 1596 and 1598, The Merchant of Venice is classified as both an early Shakespearean comedy (more specifically, as a "Christian comedy") and as one of the Bard's problem plays; it is a work in which good triumphs over evil, but serious themes are examined and some issues remain unresolved. In Merchant , Shakespeare wove together two ancient folk tales, one involving a vengeful, greedy creditor trying to exact a pound of flesh, the other involving a marriage suitor's choice among three chests and thereby winning his (or her) mate. Shakespeare's treatment of the first standard plot scheme centers around the villain of Merchant , the Jewish moneylender Shylock, who seeks a literal pound of flesh from his Christian opposite, the generous, faithful Antonio.