Finished reading on 05/02/18
SPOILERS! TRIGGER WARNING!
Before reviewing this text, I wanted to watch the Globe On Screen’s Production from 2015 … so I bought the DVD! I’ve watched it twice now (I know, I’m crazy!); the first time I watched it without the text and the second time I watched it I made notes on the changes they made to the text. My favourite scene that they added was the final scene. WOW. It was SO full of emotion and it really made me feel for Shylock during both of the viewings. I would highly recommend this production, although it is the only production I’ve seen of it thus far.
For me, this play is a genre-bending Tragi-comedy. Shakespeare’s undoubtedly amazing use of disguise of Portia and Nerissa, his excellent pacing and ability to change the mood from scene to scene is wonderful. The relationships and how they were concluded within the play echoed A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s exploration of love. However, in The Merchant of Venice, an alternative perspective regarding the morality of these lovers’ relationships is added with the addition of Jessia and Lorenzo. Their characters seem to be the least toxic of the whole play and thus demonstrate Shakespeare’s (possibly) progressive thinking. I love this play and its full of awful anti-semitic people with power complexes. Normally, particularly with YA novels and contemporary books, I find horrible characters horrible to read. But, it’s just not the same in a play, particularly The Merchant of Venice. Although the characters are awful, they’re human and well developed rather than being cruel for cruelty’s sake. We see their motivations – but Shakespeare presents them in a way that is unbiased and interesting. He almost, dare I say – uses these characters to discuss themes in an intelligent and entertaining manner. Genius!
The Merchant of Venice is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays I’ve read/watched so far. But to be honest, each time I read a play that’s new to me, I feel the standard is constant. It’s so hard to place this play next to other plays I’ve reviewed because they’re all so beautiful. They’re poetic, highly detailed and incredibly entertaining – always leaving me with questions. A highly engaging and thought-provoking read that discusses racism (trigger warning for antisemitism) and authority.
For more information and research, check out my Shakespeare, Jonson & Co. Module!