Can The Merchant of Veince be considered a good work of a marxist work?In terms of the society it protrayes.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are some elements of Marxist thought in the play.  Naturally, this would have to be a Marxist interpretation of the play and might not necessarily model what Shakespeare had in mind, but there are some of these elements, nevertheless.  The most overwhelming example in my mind is Shylock.  It cannot be lost on the Marxist that "a pound of flesh" is the penalty for not paying one's debts. A Marxist would interpret this in several ways. Initially, the link between capitalism and dehumanization is evident in the work. The fact that one can put "a price" on a human being's flesh shows the dehumanizing element of capitalism and how a materialist driven society commoditizes all that it touches.  Additionally, the configuration of society is one where value is measured only in monetary terms.  Bassanio seeks to restore his fortune and enters into a relationship with Portia in order to do so.  This shows how capitalism seeks to reduce every complex element in society such as love and marriage to a quantifiable amount. The fact that economics is the foundation for the play and for the society is also Marxist in thought. Remember that for a Marxist thinker, the premise of all social interactions and institutions is an economic one. As you examine the play, I think you can find this in detail, reflecting a Marxist tone.  How is government in the play an extension of wealth?  How does wealth and material prosperity underscore all interactions in the play?  After finding evidence to answer this, I think that one can conclude that a Marxist would be able to find some intellectually affirming qualities through Shakespeare's work.

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The Merchant of Venice

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