Merchant of Venice (Pelican)

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Grade Level: 12
Author: William Shakespeare
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publish Date: 2000, Pelican Shakespeare
Binding: Paperback
Dimensions: 5 1/8 by 7 3/4 inches
Number of Pages: 156
Item ID: 3023 C2F  ISBN: 978-0-14-071462-3
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This edition of The Merchant of Venice, edited by A. R. Braunmuller, was redesigned in an easy-to-read format that preserves the favorite features of the original. It includes essays on the theatrical world of Shakespeare and texts of Shakespeare, an introduction to the play itself, and a note on the text used for this edition of it.

This is part of Hewitt's Lightning Literature & Composition curriculum (See Related Items below). From our Guide by Elizabeth Kamath:
Whereas the locations of the other three plays are relatively unimportant (Illyria is more a magical place than the actual Illyria, As You Like It has elements of both France and England in it, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream could be set as easily anywhere as in Athens), this play’s setting has meaning.

A couple of hundred years prior to Shakespeare, Venice had been the richest and most powerful city in Europe. By Shakespeare’s day she had fallen into relative ruin, but people still romanticized Venice (as they do this beautiful city even today). They had not forgotten her former glory, and this connection of Venice with wealth underscores the play’s attention to money and goods. As in the other three plays, there is a “magical” place here too: Belmont, where Portia lives.

Shakespeare’s plays are divided into three (or more modernly, four) genres: tragedies, comedies, histories, and (more recently) romances. But many of Shakespeare’s plays break the boundaries of these genres to become mixed-genre plays. The Merchant of Venice is one such play. Although it is essentially a comedy, there is a darker element here than in any of the other comedies you’ve studied in this guide: Shylock. We will examine Shylock in more depth in the lesson. The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s plays that has been deeply affected by the passage of time. In Shakespeare’s day there would have been very little sense of tragedy to it, but modern sensibilities usually see Shylock as more sinned against than sinning.

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