Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Merchant of Venice

So my brother and I decided back in June that we were going to read a Shakespearen play a month for the next year starting in August. Looking at it now, I probably shouldn't have agreed to it; I had a goal to read 50 books off the List this year and I'm already behind on it. But whatever, I like Shakespeare.

Both of us were running a bit behind with our reading; it's September 1st and I just finished reading the first play, The Merchant of Venice. I'll have to do better with September's King Lear.

The Merchant of Venice is Antonio. His best friend wants to borrow money to woo Portia, a beautiful heiress. Since he doesn't have the money on him, he borrows it from Shylock the Jew. But if he doesn't pay the money back in time, Shylock insists he will talk a pound of Antonio's flesh.
Portia herself has her own problems. To win her hand, her father decreed that a suitor will have to open one of three chests (a gold one, a silver one, and a lead one). If the suitor found her picture, they would be wed; if he failed, he was to leave and never speak to her again. Men were coming from all over to woo her, but few would brave the chests.

The Merchant of Venice reminded me of a comedic Timon of Athens. Both Antonio and Timon are very generous. But when Antonio runs out of money, his friends rally around him (as opposed to Timon, whose friends pretty much ignored him).

The Merchant of Venice was a fantastic comedy. It has the typical cross-dressing (remember, in Shakespeare's day these would be boys dressing up as girls who were disguising themselves as boys), star-crossed lovers, and a really interesting law debate where Shylock refused to be dissuaded from having his pound of flesh. The Merchant of Venice is one play I've never read before, but I really wanted to. So I'm glad I finally gave myself the chance to read it. I'm super excited for September's King Lear though - that's the one play I've wanted to read for forever (and I finally will be reading it!)

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