Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review of "The Merchant of Venice: A Shakespeare Story," by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross

Review of

The Merchant of Venice: A Shakespeare Story, by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross ISBN 9781626866980

Four out of five stars

 This play by Shakespeare is a combination of love story, comedy and fable, with a Jewish moneylender included. The love story involves Bassanio, a man of noble rank in Venetia and Portia of Belmont. They met once and it was love at first sight. However, the terms of her father’s will force her to submit each suitor to a test and so far, all the men have failed. Bassanio’s friend Antonio loans him the money he needs to impress Portia, but he is forced to borrow the money from the Jewish moneylender Shylock.

 Antonio has been cruel to Shylock, so in an act of revenge, Shylock writes the clause in the contract that if Antonio defaults, Shylock will be able to literally extract a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. When Antonio does default, there is a climactic court scene where the paired Bassanio and the disguised Portia come to Antonio’s defense and solve the problem with a significant act of mercy towards Shylock.

 While this book does not use quotes from the play itself, it does a good job of presenting the love story, the parable topics of being careful regarding the choices you make and that if it is possible, one should take pity on people that you may not think deserve it. However, there is no mention of Shylock’s forced conversion to Christianity. Shylock is drawn as a shift-eyed evil man.

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