The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library)

The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library)

William Shakespeare

Language: English

Pages: 238

ISBN: 0743477561

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father’s will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails, he may never marry at all.

Bassanio and Portia also face a magnificent villain, the moneylender Shylock. In creating Shylock, Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread prejudice against Jews. Shylock would have been regarded as a villain because he was a Jew. Yet he gives such powerful expression to his alienation due to the hatred around him that, in many productions, he emerges as the hero.

Portia is most remembered for her disguise as a lawyer, Balthazar, especially the speech in which she urges Shylock to show mercy that “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”

The authoritative edition of The Merchant of Venice from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:

-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

-Newly revised explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

-Scene-by-scene plot summaries

-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases

-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language

-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books

-An up-to-date annotated guide to further reading

Essay by Alexander Leggatt

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit

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modesty123 Thy skipping124 spirit, lest through thy wild behavior I be misconstered125 in the place I go to, 170 And lose my hopes. Gratiano Signor Bassanio, hear me. If I do not put on a sober habit,126 Talk with respect, and swear but127 now and then, Wear128 prayerbooks in my pocket, look demurely,129 113 refuse, say no to* 114 uncultured, unrestrained 115 unskilled, barbarous 116 presumptuous 117 suit, are fitting for* 118 successfully, satisfactorily, aptly 119 look, are

And it is mervail4 he outdwells5 his hour, For lovers ever run before6 the clock. Salarino O ten times faster Venus’ pigeons7 fly 5 To seal8 love’s bonds new-made, than they are wont To keep obligèd faith unforfeited.9 Gratiano That ever holds.10 Who riseth from a feast With that keen appetite that he sits down? Where is the horse that doth untread11 again 10 His tedious measures12 with the unbated13 fire That he did pace them first? All things that are, Are with more spirit chased14 than

Belmont, Portia’s house enter Nerissa and a Servant Nerissa Quick, quick I pray thee, draw the curtain straight. The Prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath, And comes to his election1 presently. enter Arragon and his Attendants, and Portia Portia Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince. If you choose that wherein I am contained, 5 Straight shall our nuptial rights be solemnized. But if thou fail, without more speech, my lord, You must be gone from hence immediately. Arragon I am

consistently as I am able) a number of stylistic and typographical devices: • The annotation of a single word does not repeat that word • The annotation of more than one word repeats the words being annotated, which are followed by an equals sign and then by the annotation; the footnote number in the text is placed after the last of the words being annotated • In annotations of a single word, alternative meanings are xv about this book usually separated by commas; if there are distinctly

he speaks, not a great deal more.Antonio works quite satisfactorily, in a role thus delimited; his characterization will not bear any large, close examination. For example, when he tells us, after the fact, why he thinks Shylock hates him, he claims circumstances never previ-xxv introduction ously mentioned and not fully consistent with what has been told us:“He seeks my life, his reason well I know. / I oft delivered from his forfeitures / Many that have at times made moan to me, / Therefore

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