Analysis

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Although the exact date when Shakesapeare composed The Merchant of Venice is unknown, scholars believe it was written in 1596-98. One of the most prominent topics explored in this play is the place of Jewish people in European societies in the late 16th century. To understand the play’s approach to this topic, it is important to contextualize the sentiments toward Judaism in Europe at the time. The main antagonist, Shylock, is Jewish, and throughout the play, various characters, including the eponymous merchant of Venice, Antonio, actively antagonize Shylock as a result of his ethnicity and religion. Throughout the play, the Christian characters seem to think Judaism bears connotations of evil. 

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It is worth noting that Jews were not legally allowed in England at the time, and while this law was not always upheld, Jews in England were expected to remain quiet about their background. In general, Jews were considered strange and exotic others rather than typical human beings, and they were barred from many professions. Further, only two to three years before the play was written, Queen Elizabeth had allegedly been the target of an attempted poisoning by her physician, Roderigo Lopez, a Portuguese man of Jewish descent. Lopez’s public execution, warranted or not, illustrates that the common attitude toward Judaism in Elizabethan England was cold at best.

This is perhaps why Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock is conflicted and ambiguous. Shylock is framed as the antagonist of the play, and some of his priorities are certainly questionable, but he is also a deeply relatable character. We know, for instance, that many of the Christian characters have been cruel to him in the past, placing his grievances in context. And in the third act, in one of Shakespeare’s more famous monologues, Shylock humanizes himself, asking how different he is from Christians. As a human being, he is subject to the same joys and sorrows as others, and his desire for recompense is thus framed as an essentially human motive. We also learn that he is a widower, aggrieved by the loss of the ring that his wife left him, a fact that reveals greater emotional depths. 

Shylock’s punishment is indeed harsh and unjust: he must convert to Christianity, he must change his will to bequeath all of his possessions to his daughter who has betrayed him and the man she eloped with, and he is not remunerated for his loan to Antonio in any way. However, four hundred years ago, the general attitude was likely much more biased against Jews in England, and so this punishment may not have been understood as unjust by Shakespeare’s original audience. Still, Shakespeare attempts to humanize Shylock, and scholars suggest that his presentation of Shylock was progressive for its time. Although the play employs problematic stereotypes, it also portrays Shylock as a human being, not merely an outsider.

Tied closely to the question of Judaism is the question of the value of money. Much of the hatred towards Jews in 16th century Europe centered around usury, the lending of money with interest, a practice which is discussed several times throughout the play. Shylock, a usurer, is careful with his money, and the play contrasts his attitude with the incautious spending that other characters indulge in. The events of the play begin because Bassanio has not been careful with his money, and Antonio is overly eager to lend Bassanio money that he does not have. Portia similarly gives her money freely to save the life of a man that she does not know, and Jessica and Lorenzo spend the money that they have stolen from Shylock over the course of several days, mostly on indulgent items like gondola rides and a monkey. They spend their money so quickly that they must be taken in by a friend of a friend, Portia. 

It is the supposed villain in this play who keeps close watch on his money and attempts to control his expenditures. While the central conflicts of the plot would seem to implicitly argue for fiscal maturity, the fact that the play ends happily for the fiscally careless Christians and poorly for Shylock suggests otherwise. Thus, the play may be commenting on the lack of importance money should have in human life: money is fluid, and it is the experiences and relationships that money affords us that should be treasured over money itself. It is out of love that Portia and Antonio offer money to their companions. 

By this logic, Shylock represents a warning. He values his relationship with his daughter no more than the ducats that she stole from him—so much so that he would rather see her in a coffin with the ducats than to have her back. Similarly, when the Moroccan and Arragonian princes choose their chests, they choose based in part on the value of the material the chests are made from, and they lose their opportunity to marry Portia. The scroll in the gold chest, in fact, reminds us that all that glitters is not gold. 

Throughout the play, it is those who value relationships over money who are rewarded, while those who value money over relationships are punished. However, it is most accurate to say that the play condones a kind of middle ground with regards to the importance of money. Early in the play, Nerissa suggests that those with too much have too many worries, but those with none also suffer. It is best, she says, to be content. Given the radical difference between characters like Shylock and Lorenzo, Nerissa’s comment about moderation is well made.

Historical Background

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2097

There may not be a play more misnamed in Shakespeare’s entire canon than The Merchant of Venice. Though he is certainly an important character, Antonio—the merchant in question—merits, at best, fourth billing. The main lovers in the play, Portia and Bassanio, command a great deal more attention, and, as most commentators suggest, Shylock is ultimately the main attraction. Although the Jewish moneylender “appears in only five of the play’s twenty scenes, and not at all in the fifth act, everyone agrees that the play belongs to Shylock” (Barnet 193-4). His dominance is such that, in certain productions (particularly in the nineteenth century), the last act has been “omitted entirely” (Myrick, “Introduction” xxii). Yet, despite his somewhat lesser role, Antonio proves crucial to both main plots of The Merchant of Venice. His agreement to serve as collateral for Shylock’s loan to Bassanio facilitates the latter’s courtship of Portia, and the risk to his life which results from this arrangement generates much of the plot’s complications. Shakespeare’s decision to make him the title character perhaps stems from an acknowledgment of Antonio’s structural importance to all the various story lines, as well as from an effort—perhaps unsuccessful—to balance the audience’s attention equally between Shylock’s thirst for revenge and the romance of Portia and Bassanio.

Antonio’s importance as the hinge between the play’s two main plots may reflect the fact that Shakespeare had no one particular inspiration for The Merchant, but rather drew primarily on two different sources. Both the story of the three caskets and the story of a usurer’s demand of a pound of human flesh apparently derive from Oriental folk-tales (Myrick, “Sources” 142-3; Barton 250), though it is likely that Shakespeare encountered them from Italian and Latin sources. A collection of Italian stories, Il Pecorone, is usually suggested as Shakespeare’s source for the pound of flesh, while Gesta Romanorum, a book of medieval Latin stories (first translated into English in 1577), was very likely his introduction to the three caskets (Myrick, “Sources” 142-3). As with most of Shakespeare’s plays, the exact date of composition is unknown, but contemporary references prove that it had been performed at least by 1598. “In 1598 and in 1600 the play was entered in the Stationers’ Register. It was first published in a quarto (Q1) in 1600" (Myrick, “Textual Note” 139).

The most prominent cultural issues in The Merchant, both embodied in the character of Shylock, are the Elizabethan attitudes toward Jews and usury (moneylending). Although “[e]laborate arguments have been mounted to demonstrate that The Merchant of Venice is not anti-Semitic”—presumably stemming from critics’ desire to defend the ethics of the man many consider to be the greatest poet of the English language—”it is no good to try to discard the hate that energizes the play” (Charney 47). “Jews had been officially banished from England for three centuries” by the time Shakespeare was writing, and there was a lingering hatred of the Jewish race and religion among Christian societies (Barton 250). Such a Christian grudge against Jews allegedly stemmed from the latter group’s rejection of Christ, and this sad mixture of racial and religious prejudice is by no means absent from the play. The anti-Semitic mood of England was further fueled by the trial and execution of Roderigo Lopez—a Portuguese Jew and physician to Queen Elizabeth—who was accused of attempting to poison his employer in 1594, a few years before Shakespeare’s play was written (Barton 250). The association of Jews with usury is a stereotype unfortunately still familiar to us today; apart from such racial animosity, however, the Elizabethans despised moneylending for interest in and of itself. The practice was technically illegal in England at the time, although there were various ways—some officially-sanctioned—around the law (Myrick, “Introduction” xxvii-iii). The possibility of Antonio’s death as a result of his financial dealings with Shylock no doubt reflects the contemporary fear about the exorbitant interest rates usurers sometimes charged.

The stage history of The Merchant of Venice has largely been the history of the interpretation of Shylock. How Shakespeare staged the play and the part is unknown; the absence of extensive reference to it throughout the 1600s suggests it wasn’t originally one of the author’s most popular works (Barnet 194). George Granville staged a notable adaptation of it in 1701, featuring a bumbling, comic Shylock, and this interpretation appears to have been the standard one until 1741, when Charles Macklin radically transformed the character into a terrifying, almost monstrous villain (Barnet 194-6). The next major revision in the acting of the role occurred in 1814, when Edmund Kean presented a Shylock who “evoked not simply terror but pity”; Shylock was seen as justified in his rage, due to his ill-treatment at the hands of the Christians (Barnet 196-7). The evolution of a kinder, gentler Shylock culminated in 1879, when Henry Irving played the character as “a sympathetic and tragic figure,” a heroic victim of the increasingly unseemly Christians (Barnet 119). As the dominant Christian culture in England and America has gradually mollified its attitudes toward Jews, Shylock has been portrayed in an increasingly sympathetic light, and subsequent interpretations have oscillated between the various elements of horror and pity, comedy and tragedy, available to the role.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Shakespeare’s writing—one which no study guide can presume to replace—is his linguistic style. Indeed, though this may be an obvious point, it is Shakespeare’s language (rather than, say, his characters or plots) which has earned him his reputation as the pre-eminent English poet. The large number of expressions or sayings from his plays that have found their way into everyday speech, testifies to the English-speaking world’s fascination with Shakespeare as an architect of language. Ironically, however, it is the very strangeness or poetic quality of Shakespeare’s language that many beginning students find to be the chief difficulty in coming to terms with his plays, and a few remarks on this subject may serve to clarify some of the peculiarities of Shakespeare’s version of English.

It is important to note at the outset that the English of Shakespeare’s time and that of our own are relatively the same. That is, both fall under what is broadly designated “Modern English,” as opposed to “Old English” (such as one might find in the epic poem Beowulf) or “Middle English,” (as in Chaucer’s ). Be that as it may, some mitigating factors tend to estrange the present-day The Canterbury Tale sreader or audience member from Shakespeare’s language. The most obvious of these is age. The Merchant of Venice, for example, is roughly four hundred years old, and while its language may be substantially the same as ours, a great many words, phrases, and even whole syntaxes have altered over the course of time. This can be shown in the following example:

In Act II, scene 1, when the Prince of Morocco attempts to persuade Portia of the value of his dark skin, he remarks, “I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine/ Hath feared the valiant.” There are a number of minor differences easily dispensed with; most English speakers will know “thee” and “hath” are the equivalents of “you” and “has” respectively. The word “aspect” may seem a somewhat unusual or archaic way to refer to “complexion” or “face,” but presents no serious difficulty. What is strangest about this sentence is that, for the present-day reader, it seems to say the opposite of what it means. In current usage, to say that someone “feared the valiant” would be to indicate that the person was “afraid of” valiant people. In Shakespeare’s time, however, the verb “fear” could also be used to indicate “make afraid” or “cause to fear,” a usage which has since died out in our everyday speech. The sense of Morocco’s utterance is apparent only in the context of his whole speech, where “afraid of the valiant” wouldn’t fit into a list of his complexion’s attributes. Such moments may cause a reader confusion in certain passages, but a little detective work usually clears the matter up. A good edition of the play will most likely footnote such passages and explain the disparity.

Not all of the differences between Shakespeare’s English and our own are strictly chronological, however. The Merchant of Venice, like all of Shakespeare‘s plays, is written largely in verse, and as such, is estranged from any variety of spoken English. (Although we can make very educated conjectures, we can’t, in any case, be positively sure of how English was spoken in Shakespeare’s day based on written documents alone. This is, of course, the only evidence available.) Much of what a present-day reader might find estranging in Shakespeare’s language is simply due to his poetic techniques. A reader must be prepared to grant Shakespeare a great deal of leeway in his use of language; otherwise the encounter will end in frustration. Sometimes, for example, Shakespeare will concoct a usage of a word different from, but related to, its previous senses. Shylock, in Act II, scene 6, complains of the laziness of his former servant, Launcelot Gobbo, with the remark “Drones hive not with me;/ Therefore I part with him…” A present-day reader is probably not used to seeing “hive” as a verb at all; although it has such uses in Shakespeare’s time, he seems to have invented this particular one. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest recorded usage of “hive” in the sense of “To live together as bees in a hive” is this same example from The Merchant of Venice (Compact Edition OED 1312). Shakespeare frequently bends previous senses of his words to accommodate his poetic desires, sometimes initiating new trends in the word’s employment.

Shakespeare is at his best (though for the new student most difficult) when he makes words perform tasks they ordinarily don’t do, and this is often manifested in more subtle and complicated ways than merely inventing a new-but-related sense for a word. The final example is from the same scene as the previous one and is also spoken by Shylock. In cautioning his daughter Jessica to ignore the Christian revelries taking place on the street below, Shylock says:

Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum
And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife,
Clamber not you up to the casements then…”

The phrase in question here is “wry-necked fife,” which—strictly speaking—doesn’t make sense. A fife is one cylinder-shaped piece; nothing on it could be called its “neck.” The phrase might thus be taken to refer to the fife-player, whose neck would be so twisted in order to play the instrument. “Fife” would then be a synecdoche for “fife-player,” much as one can refer to a king by saying “the crown.” The trouble with this reading is that it doesn’t fit with “vile squealing,” which would refer to the sound of the fife not the player, and a reader may also be inclined to take “fife” as the instrument in parallel with the reference to “drum.” The best solution to this dilemma is to say not that “fife” must refer either to the player or the instrument, but rather that Shakespeare accesses both with his grammatical violation. Both player and instrument are needed to fill out the sense of the sentence, which, though perhaps difficult for new readers, can hardly be construed as a flaw since the poet manages to say two things for the price of one, in a remarkable feat of “verbal economy.” Such moments, once the reader is familiar and comfortable enough with the language, become transformed from the poet’s greatest difficulty to his chief attraction.

A twentieth-century philosopher, attempting to grasp the significance of and his own difficulty with the most renowned of English poets, once wrote: “I do not believe that Shakespeare can be set along side any other poet. Was he perhaps a creator of language rather than a poet?” (Wittgenstein 84). This is perhaps a useful way to conceive of Shakespeare, inasmuch as his plays often create their own rules for language usage and readers must be willing to loosen their hold on their sense of “correct English” in order to partake of them. If anything justifies Shakespeare’s reputation as the greatest of English poets, it is such “creative power,” the poet’s ability to fashion linguistic objects which are not only unprecedented in our language but which subsequently become part of that language.

Places Discussed

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Venice

*Venice. Major Italian port whose commercial activities are the play’s focus. William Shakespeare’s Venice is a busy mercantile center, in which businessmen are concerned about their cargoes at sea and who are often at the mercy of usurious moneylenders, such as Shylock. A wealthy Jew, Shylock has a deep-rooted animosity toward Christians, who chronically insult him and his religion. Although Venice is dominated by money, with its foundations resting on commerce, trade, and family inheritances, there is a society of exclusiveness under its busy mercantile surface—which is symbolized by the Rialto Bridge, a common meeting place for businessmen. Venice’s people include reviled Jews and anti-Semitic Christians, and Venetian law has the inveterate power to turn individuals into scapegoats.

Belmont

*Belmont. Town near Venice in which the wealthy young Portia lives. In contrast with Venice, Belmont is a place of beautiful material luxury and pleasure. Portia’s beauty, wit, and grace distinguish her home, but it is actually a world of idleness, frivolity, music, and romance. Portia and her waiting-maid Nerissa seem to do little but gossip about Portia’s eager suitors and show much anxiety about Bassanio’s chances at winning her hand. A scene in which Portia’s suitors must choose among treasure caskets to win her hand in marriage is pregnant with the symbolism of wealth and moral implications.

Shylock’s house

Shylock’s house. Venetian home of Shylock the moneylender. Shylock’s daughter Jessica and his servant Launcelot Gobbo complain about the hellishness of the place, where thrift is practiced, where doors and windows are shut against the masked Christian revelers whom Shylock regards as threats to his religion and his property.

Shakespeare also uses generalized street scenes or scenes in front of Shylock’s to demonstrate the anti-Semitism of Solario, Salerio, and Gratiano, and to contrast the shallowness of these men and of Launcelot Gobbo with the wisdom of Portia and the considered judgment of Antonio, the rich and generous merchant of the play’s title.

Court

Court. Venetian court of justice that is the setting for the all-important trial scene, in which the problem of Shylock’s bond is resolved by Portia’s ingenious cleverness and a bargain that Shylock is forced to make with Venetian law in a crystallization of opposite forces: lofty Jewish concept of right and Christian “mercy.”

Modern Connections

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The Merchant of Venice is considered one of Shakespeare's problem comedies in part due to its anti-Semitism. A problem play introduces moral dilemmas without offering clear-cut or comforting solutions to these dilemmas. In The Merchant of Venice, the Christian Antonio and his friends plead with the Jewish Shylock to show mercy towards Antonio, yet when the situation is reversed and Antonio and his friends are in a position to show Shylock mercy, they do not. Instead, they strip him of his worldly possessions and force him to convert to Christianity. Since there were few or no Jews in Shakespeare's England, his depiction of Shylock is probably based on stereotypes rather than the intimate knowledge acquired through contact. Shylock is depicted as a Jewish moneylender who makes his money through "usury," a practice in which exorbitant interest is charged on loans. He hates Antonio because Antonio loans money without interest and cuts into Shylock's business. It is reported by Solanio that when Shylock discovers his daughter and his money missing, he wanders the streets crying, "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!" (II.viii.15). Solanio implies that Shylock values his daughter and his money equally, another stereotypical image of Jews in the Elizabethan age.

Shakespeare's audience would have expected this kind of stereotype and probably would have applauded Shylock's harsh treatment at the hands of the Christians in the play. But for modern audiences, this treatment of Shylock is neither funny nor necessary. In fact, we tend to read a certain hypocrisy in the contrast between the Christians' speeches and actions. For all their talk of "mercy," they show Shylock none at all when the tables are turned. We can read, after all, the glimpses of Shylock's humanity Shakespeare gives us beneath the veneer of stereotype. Shylock asks, "Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?" (III.i.59-60). When his friend Tubal tells him that one of Shylock's stolen jewels has been given in exchange for a monkey, Shylock reveals that the jewel was one he had given his wife, Leah. He says, "I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys" (III.i.123). From these references, one can infer that Shylock has loved deeply and experiences pain.

In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare dramatizes the contrast between "law" and "mercy" in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Shylock represents law as it is stressed in the Old Testament of the Bible, and Portia and the others represent the mercy associated with Christianity and the New Testament. The message of the play seems to be that laws are necessary but must be tempered with mercy and compassion. Shakespeare emphasizes that it is important to observe the "spirit" rather than the "letter'' of the law. For example, the spirit of the law or bond negotiated between Shylock and Antonio is the guarantee of restitution—Antonio will see that the ducats loaned by Shylock will be repaid. Shylock should have been satisfied with the offers by Bassanio and Portia to double or even triple the original amount of the loan; instead, he insists on cutting off a pound of Antonio's flesh. Since this surgery would most certainly have killed Antonio, conforming to the letter of the bond would have been an instance of state-licensed murder, disrupting the system of laws instituted for the protection of Venetian society. The play's insistence on conforming to the spirit rather than the letter of the law is evident not only in the main plot but in the two subplots as well.

In the subplot of the caskets, Portia is faced with the law of her deceased father's will. She must marry the suitor who passes the test devised by her father to correctly choose a certain casket. Portia perhaps violates the letter of her father's will by helping Bassanio choose correctly but not the spirit of her father's will. We can only imagine that the test was devised to procure for Portia an intelligent and financially stable husband with certain values. If the test of choosing the right casket is meant to insure Portia's happiness, we can hardly imagine that Portia's father would have been disappointed with the success achieved by Bassanio through her manipulation.

In the subplot of the rings, Bassanio and Gratiano have promised never to give away their wedding rings. Obviously, they have not really given the rings away since it is Portia who receives them after she and Nerissa have tricked them. Even so, the two men are correct to argue that they have not violated the commitment of love and devotion for which the rings are only the outward symbol. Today, we would call what Portia does to Bassanio entrapment—encouraging someone to commit a crime he did not actively seek to commit. Portia and Nerissa forgive their husbands because they realize that Bassanio and Gratiano have not betrayed a trust by giving their wedding rings to the young doctor; their intention was to reward the young doctor for a perceived kindness. This forgiveness is another example in the play of the importance of weighing intention when judging a person's actions.

The concern with the letter and the spirit of the law shown in The Merchant of Venice is not peculiar to Shakespeare's time. In our own age, we know that laws are necessary to prevent anarchy and to insure peace and order. But we also know that no law can anticipate every circumstance and intention. At the same time we realize that a proliferation of laws to remedy this situation would compromise our freedom. The alternative to this dilemma is to enforce each law with common sense, always remembering the spirit or intention with which that law was formulated.

Bibliography

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Sources for Further Study

Bulman, James. Shakespeare in Performance: The Merchant of Venice. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Provides a survey of nineteenth century productions and a critique of several major twentieth century productions, including a comparison of Jonathan Miller’s stage version (featuring Laurence Olivier as Shylock) with the BBC-TV version he produced ten years later.

Danson, Lawrence. The Harmonies of “The Merchant of Venice.” New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978. An excellent full-length study of the play that treats everything from “The Problem of Shylock” to law and language, miracle and myth, love and friendship, and the “quality of mercy.”

Frye, R. M. Shakespeare and Christian Doctrine. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963. Presents biblical, patristic, medieval, and early modern Christian doctrine, especially Catholic-Anglican, as background to Shakespeare’s works.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. Provides useful information about the Roderigo Lopez affair and the current of anti-Semitism in mid-1590’s London as background to The Merchant of Venice.

Gross, John. Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend. London: Chatto & Windus, 1992. Gross traces Shylock’s role and that of the play’s in the history of anti-Semitism in the Western world. Also discusses the stage history of The Merchant of Venice, including several adaptations.

Hall, Jonathan. Anxious Pleasures: Shakespearean Comedy and the Nation-State. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995. In addition to an overview of Shakespeare’s political world, this book contains valuable commentary on capitalism in The Merchant of Venice and on Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (pr. c. 1589, pb. 1633).

Levin, Richard A. Love and Society in Shakespearean Comedy. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1985. Levin devotes one chapter to The Merchant of Venice and focuses on one of the play’s central problems: the ambiguity of Shylock’s conflicting motives in Act I, scene iii: The bond proposed may have been “a vicious and deceptive offer” or it may have been an incentive for better treatment from Antonio and others.

Rabkin, Norman. Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. In a superb essay on The Merchant of Venice, Rabkin notes the many significant inconsistencies and contradictions in the play and shows the impossibility of imposing easy, reductivist interpretation on it.

Shaheen, Naseb. Biblical References in Shakespeare’s Comedies. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1993. Examines Shakespeare’s knowledge of English Bibles (Geneva and others), details his textual references, and corrects an earlier misattribution of a text in The Merchant of Venice.

Shapiro, James. Shakespeare and the Jews. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. Shapiro examines English identity and Jewish identity in the Elizabethan age; recounts myths, histories, and historical anecdotes; and includes a chapter titled “A Pound of Flesh.”

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Barnet, Sylvan. “The Merchant of Venice on the Stage.” Shakespeare 192-205.

Barton, Anne. “Introduction to The Merchant of Venice.” The Riverside Shakespeare. By William Shakespeare. Eds. G. Blakemore Evans, et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974. 250-253.

Bradbrook, Muriel C. Shakespeare the Craftsman. London: Chatto & Windus, 1969.

Brown, John Russell. Discovering Shakespeare: A New Guide to the Plays. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

Charney, Maurice. All of Shakespeare. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Council, Norman. When Honour's at Stake: Ideas of Honour in Shakespeare's Plays. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1973.

Driscoll, James P. Identity in Shakespearean Drama. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1983.

Edwards, Philip. Shakespeare: A Writer's Progress. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Ericson, Peter. Patriarchal Structure in Shakespeare's Drama. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1985.

Granville-Barker, Harley. Prefaces to Shakespeare. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965/1978.

Jardine, Lisa. Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare. Sussex, England: Harvester Press,1983.

Levin, Harry. Shakespeare and the Revolution of the Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Muir, Kenneth. "Fifty Years of Shakespeare Criticism: 1900-1950," Shakespeare Survey, 4 (1951), pp.1-25.

Myrick, Kenneth. Introduction. Shakespeare xxi-xxxviii.

—. “Textual Note.” Shakespeare 139-141.

—. “A Note on the Sources of The Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare 142-144.

Sewell, Arthur. Character and Society in Shakespeare. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Kenneth Myrick. Rev. ed. New York: Signet Classic, 1987.

Spencer, Theodore. Shakespeare and the Nature of Man. New York: MacMillan, 1942.

Spivack, Bernard. Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958.

Stoll, Elmer Edgar. Art and Artifice in Shakespeare. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1963.

Van Doren, Mark. Shakespeare. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1939.

Wells, Stanley. (Ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Culture And Value. Eds. G.H. Von Wright and Heikki Nyman. Trans. Peter Winch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

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