The central figure of this play is money. It’s quite unusual thing for Shakespeare’s plays though he was very canny with money himself. In this play we see another unusual figure – the Jew, Shylock. The way Shakespeare depicts Shylock is revolutionary for that times. And the problem is not even in the image itself. It’s in Shylock’s famous speech. I wouldn’t comment it better than it is so I’ll just put it bellow.
“To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means,warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we notrevenge? If we are like you in the rest, we willresemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example?Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but Iwill better the instruction.”
This play is considered to be a comedy. But seriously, this monologue just got me. Why on Earth should someone consider Shylock a bad guy? Because he is a Jew? That’s just ridiculous. Because of religion? In Shakespearean time possible. Because he earns more money than Christian? I think this is where the characters in the play have a problem.
But the play is not about Shylock, it’s about Antonio, Venetian merchant, his friend Bassanio, his wife Portia and other really lovely characters. Shylock is a supporting character yet we may have a question-who is the merchant of Venice? Antonio or Shylock?
An interesting thing I came across in people’s reviews is that Antonio loves Bassanio not in a friendly manner and this suppressed homosexuality is making him depressingly sad. Like seriously? Guys, the character said himself that he is sad just because he is sad, no other meaning. Simple as that. It is useful sometimes to really read the text itself and not overanalyze.
"In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: It wearies me; you say it wearies you."
" I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage where every man must play a part, And mine a sad one."
So the world is a stage, every human being has its part. And his just sad. Another thing is homosexuality which I totally approve, it can’t be unseen. Brings another cold wave which makes it hard to call this play a comedy.