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The Merchant of Venice- Introduction

Introduction to MoV
by

Matthew Laamanen

on 26 May 2015

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Transcript of The Merchant of Venice- Introduction

The Merchant of Venice
Venice
* A politically independent state
* Relaxed sexual morals & love of pleasure
* Myth of the tolerance of different nationalities & religions; Jewish ghettos and badges of identification were in use.
* A place of great wealth where trade and exploration was center
* Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe.
* At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce.
* Belmont, meaning beautiful mountain, is a secondary setting for the play.
Merchant of Venice Log #1
Take ten minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries. They will be checked at random.

"Don't judge a book by its cover!" What do you think this common saying means? What personal experiences have made you more aware that appearances can be deceptive? What happens to those who put their trust in appearances?

Attitudes Survey
I'm am going to read a list of statements and you must decide if you agree or disagree with the statement. You will move to the right of the classroom if you agree and the to left if you disagree; be prepared to explain your choice.
Money can affect my level of happiness.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Spouses should have the same values.
A true friend would do anything for their friend.
People should forgive those who have wronged them.
The way a rule is worded is that way it has to be; no expectations.
People should keep their promises, no matter what
Racism can sometimes be evident in a "good" person.
Timeless Classic
You have probably wondered why you should read things written before you were born—especially Shakespeare. The simple answer is that good literature, no matter how ancient, prevails and inspires. The deeper answer is that the issues, desires, and dilemmas faced by people hundreds of years ago are still faced by people today, and literature reflects this. We continue to read the old tales because they are relevant to our experiences today.
Why are we reading this?
The Merchant of Venice
* Written some time around 1597
* Written as a romantic comedy since it is about love
* Fuses together many dramatic elements:
romantic courtship, riddling love tests, eloping lovers, comic confusions, a gripping courtroom trial, and a seemingly harmonious final act
* At the core of the play is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. He only appears in five of the 20 scenes, but his presence dominates the play.
Historical Context of Jews in England
1075 in Oxford:
Jews were not confined to ghettos, as many of their European counterparts, but they were not allowed to be citizens. Because Christians could not lend money with interest, many Jews earned lucrative livings as usurers. In trying to regain debt owed to them, Jews became the target of resentment.
Late 12th Century:
Anti-Semitic sentiment culminated in two massacres, one at the coronation of Richard I in 1189 (30 Jews killed), and the other in the city of York in 1190 (150 Jews killed).
In fact, the Magna Carta(1215), is a testament to growing Anti-Semitic feelings—two clauses state that if a debtor dies, debt is paid, neither heir or widow is responsible for paying it.
1275:
Jews forbidden to be money-lenders as well as other edicts implemented: taxation of Jews over 12 years old and wearing badges that identified them as Jews.
1290 (until 1655):
Expelled from England


Historical Context Continued
* Threat of Civil War
* Staved off threat of rebellion by dealing ruthlessly with threat of treason, real or perceived
* Climate of religious intolerance against Christians
* Jews who converted lived quietly in England during Elizabeth’s reign
* In 1593 Rodrigo Lopez, the Queen’s physician, was accused of trying to poison her, allegedly in league with the King of Spain. He was convicted of treason and hung in 1594 because he was a Jew; yet another outbreak of anti-Jewish sentiment occurred.
* Therefore, it isn’t known whether Shakespeare ever came into contact with anyone who was Jewish.
* Jews were often presented in literature as blood-thirsty villains. Pay attention to Shakespeare's portrayal of Shylock and decide for yourself if Shakespeare was an anti-Semite.
Basic Synopsis of Beginning of Our Play
In Venice, young Bassanio needs a loan of 3,000 ducats so that he can properly woo a wealthy heiress of Venice named Portia. To get the necessary funds, Bassanio entreats his friend Antonio, a merchant. Antonio's money, unfortunately, is invested in merchant ships that are presently at sea; however, to help Bassanio, Antonio arranges for a short-term loan of the money from Shylock, a Jewish usurer. Shylock has a deep-seated hatred for Antonio because of the insulting treatment that Antonio has shown him in the past. When pressed, Shylock strikes a terrible bargain: the 3,000 ducats must be repaid in three months, or Shylock will exact a pound of flesh from Antonio. The merchant agrees to this, confident in the return of his ships before the appointed date of repayment.
Merchant of Venice Log #2
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all your journal entries on the same document. The entries will be checked at random.
Is having a good name important in today's society? Why or why not? How do people go about earning a good name or receiving a bad name? Is having a good name something that will guarantee success or failure?
Merchant of Venice Log #3
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all your journal entries on the same document. These will be checked at random.
What are the qualities/characteristics that you associate with a friend/best friend? What helps you determine if someone has the characteristics/qualities of a friend/best friend? Is finding a true friend easy or hard to do, explain why or why not?
Merchant of Venice Log #4
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
At this time in your life, what is your biggest worry/concern? Explain what you do to minimize that worry or concern. Do you think that this worry/concern will always be an issue for you, or will it go away eventually? Is it possible to never have a worry/concern?
Merchant of Venice Log #5
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Describe a time you did a favor for someone. What was the favor? Describe it in detail. How did you feel after you completed doing the favor? Why do you think this person came to you to ask the favor?
Merchant of Venice Log #6
Merchant of Venice Log #7

What advice have you given to someone else that you yourself find hard to follow? What have your parents done that was “for your own good”? What was the end result of their actions? Was it indeed “for your own good”? Do you think that Portia’s father’s test seems like a good one? Why or why not?
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Explain a time in detail where you had to make a very important decision. What were the choices you were faced with? Were there any consequences (positive or negative) that you considered before making your decision? What are the long term effects of the choice you made?
Merchant of Venice Log #8
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Describe a time you were in an argument with someone. What was the argument about? Did you win the argument, why or why not? What sort of evidence and explanations did you use to make your argument stronger? How did you react after the argument? Does the result of this argument affect the person you are today in a positive or negative way?

Merchant of Venice Log #9
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Define “mercy” and “forgiveness.” Describe a situation in which someone offered someone else mercy and/or forgiveness for a wrongdoing.
Merchant of Venice Log #10
Take 10 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Do you believe in love, why or why not? Have you ever been in love? If you have, describe the feeling. If you have not, explain how you notice when people are in love? Is love the most powerful of all human emotions? Support your response with evidence/observations from your life/someone else's.
Merchant of Venice Log #11
Take 15 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
What makes someone a victim? What makes someone a villain? Are people able to shift from being a victim to a villain or vise versa? Who do you identify as the victim and the villain in Merchant of Venice? For your victim, cite one piece of evidence to support your claim, and for the villain do the exact same task.
Merchant of Venice Log # 12
Take 15 minutes to write in your Google Doc. Please keep all of your journal entries, they will be checked at random.
Write about a time that you had to sacrifice something that was important to you. This sacrifice does not need to be a physical object, it can also be an abstract topic such as time. Did this sacrifice benefit you or work against you? Why do you believe the theme of sacrifice is evident in many of the things we encounter in life such as movies, T.V. shows and books?
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