What is one important setting in The Merchant of Venice?

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The Merchant of Venice has several important settings offering many different ways to understand the action taking place in the play. Shakespeare's descriptions of both Venice and Belmont provide numerous opportunities to compare and contrast the lives of the characters in both settings.

Also important is the setting of the court where Antonio and Shylock square off. The rather racuous atmosphere of the attending gallery is quite different to our modern conceptions of what a courtroom is like. The fact that Portia must disguise herself as a man in order to be heard, as an equal and deliver her interpretation of the law, magnifies the importance of this setting.

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Aside from, of course, Venice, the other major setting is Belmont, a city for the very elite where everyone is wealthy and ostensibly happy (as opposed to the working class/business world of Venice.)  The people seem to be beautiful and carefree.  Their world is not beset by ugliness or strife and stands in stark contrast to Venice. 

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