Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Merchant of Venice

Oh yes, it's Shakespeare time. Admittedly, I have very little experience with Shakespeare's work to the point where this is only the second play of his that I have read. The first was Romeo and Juliet which I wasn't very fond of, but The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare has fascinated me a bit more.

The play does have a few unsettling parts, such as the rampant anti-Semitism. I guess it is all a matter of understanding the time during which the play was written. I have seen some write off the mistreatment of the Jewish Shylock as an attempt by Shakespeare to in some way make Shylock a hero. However, I'm not sure I can quite buy into this. I can, however, accept it as part of the time period because no society has been without its flaws.

I'm not quite sure why the play grabbed such a hold of me, but the whole love story was far superior to Romeo and Juliet. I guess it is first necessary to see that the greatest love found in the play is between two friends. Both are willing to do anything for the other, no matter the cost. That type of friendship has always been something I can't overlook, so I suppose it played a part in my enjoyment of the play. Shakespeare's wordplay was also quite entertaining and easily perceived. The play is ripe with allusions, another thing I love. Allusions always show that the writer put more time into the work, which I can appreciate.

Actually, I think that is what I like the most about the work. The care that went into it. I would challenge anyone to write something as well crafted as a play like this. While we might not all agree on how enjoyable the work is, I think we can agree that the poetry and references show a good bit of skill. I always find that I'm a sucker for writers that use cultural references and carefully craft their wording. Maybe I've just been suckered again.

I'll definitely pick up some more Shakespeare after The Merchant, but maybe not for a while. Although I did enjoy it and it didn't take long to finish, reading multiple Shakespeare plays in a row can't be good for your sanity. I think I'll just take my doses of Shakespeare in moderation for now.


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