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The Merchant of Venice   Tags: literature, shakespeare, theater  

A research guide to Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
Last Updated: Dec 19, 2013 URL: http://libguides.usc.edu/merchantofvenice Print Guide Email Alerts

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"I will have my bond."

F. Murray Abraham as Shylock at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA

photo credit: Gerry Goodstein

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A mysteriously melancholy rich man, a dashing young lover in desperate need of cash, a moneylender with good reason to seek revenge, and a witty young woman with a knack for disguise -- these are the characters of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s sparkling and troubling tragicomedy. Set in the magical city of Venice, where all nations meet and the clash of cultures can lead to startling violence, the story of Antonio, Shylock and Portia has been arousing controversies -- social as well as literary -- for four centuries with its astonishing mixture of elements: comedy that is both raucous and gentle, steely-eyed satire, intense compassion, tender love poetry, and the perpetual struggle between mercy and justice.

Note: This guide was originally developed for an April 2011 Vision and Voices event. It has been re-purposed as a general guide for learning more about the play.

 

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