Explain the title of the play, "The Merchant of Venice".

2 Answers

anzio45's profile pic

anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

The title of the play has caused some comment in the past because Antonio does not dominate the action or claim most of the audience's attention. Shylock is really the central character in this regard until his exit at a relatively early stage, while Portia is the dominant character - or at least jointly so with Shylock - during the trial and from there to the end. Antonio is curiously muted and passive for an eponymous character and his opening words really characterise the way he is to behave for the rest of the play.

normalgirl's profile pic

normalgirl | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

A 'Merchant' is an old word for 'Businessman'. This play is about the struggle between a Jewish banker (Shylock) and a Christian merchant (Antionio) . They both live in Venice.

So The Merchant of Venice is called that because, basically, it is about a merchant from Venice!