The Merchant of Venice

What is Shylock’s job? Moneylender in Venice
Where does Portia live? Belmont
Name the list of characters in the Merchant of Venice (18): -Shylock-Portia-Antonio-Bassanio-Gratiano-Jessica-Lorenzo-Nerissa-Launcelot Gobbo-The prince of Morocco-The prince of Arragon-Salarino-Solanio-The duke of Venice-Old Gobbo-Tubal-Doctor Bellario-Balthasar
What is Antonio’s job? In relation to Shylock and Bassanio? Merchant; guarantor (“Bassanio’s love for the wealthy Portia leads him to borrow money from Shylock with Antonio as his guarantor.”)
What is Nerissa’s job? Portia’s lady-in-waiting
Note: According to Sparknotes, Gratiano is a friend of Bassanio (not a servant), and he is Shylock’s most vocal and insulting critic during the trial Y
What are the couples at the end of the play? -Nerissa + Gratiano-Bassanio + Portia-Jessica + Lorenzo-Others?
Note: According to Sparknotes, Lorenzo is a friend of Bassanio and Antonio, not one of their servants Y
Who becomes Bassanio’s servant in the play? Launcelot Gobbo
What are Salarino’s jobs in the play, besides sharing news? -Escorts the newlyweds Jessica and Lorenzo to Belmont-Returns Bassanio and Gratiano for Antonio’s trial
Note: the duke of Venice is the ruler of Venice Y
What is Old Gobbo’s job? A servant in Venice
Where is Doctor Bellario from? What is his relation to Portia? Padua; Portia’s cousin (note: he gives Portia’s servant the letters of introduction needed for her to make her appearance in court; I wonder if Balthasar truly brought the letters to him)
Who is Portia’s servant? Balthasar (she dispatches him to get the appropriate materials from Doctor Bellario)
What does Shylock supposedly say after Jessica has run away? “O, my ducats! O, my daughter!”
What are Portia’s most well-known words about mercy? “The quality of mercy is not strained”
Jessica escapes Shylock’s house by dressing as what? A page (a boy servant, an attendant or employee, usually in uniform, who carries messages, ushers guests, runs errands, etc.)
What are five ways that the casket test is determinedly Christian? -Desire is an unreliable guide and should be resisted-Human beings don’t deserve God’s grace but receive it in spite of themselves-Appearances are often deceiving-People shouldn’t trust the evidence provided by the senses-Leap of faith/faith and charity are central: lead casket’s injunction to give all and risk all, as one does in making a leap of faith
What book did Christopher Marlowe write about Jews? When? Jew of Malta; early 1590s
Who wrote the Jew of Malta? Chrisopher Marlowe
What are some opposites depicted in The Merchant of Venice? -Being rich and being virtuous-Marrying for money and marring for love-Following paternal orders and making one’s own choice-Enforcing the letter of the law and enforcing its spirit-Remaining faithful to one’s wife and loving one’s male friend-City (Venice) versus country (Belmont)-Borrowing versus lending-Rich versus poor-Jessica versus Portia-Antonio versus Bassanio-Master versus servant-Moral versus immoral-Christian versus Jew-Real versus fake
What kind of area would show the dissection of a body? Anatomy theater
When was the first anatomy theater built? 1594
The anatomy theater was built in honor of whom? Andreae Vesalius
Note: Hamlet’s interest in himself comes from the era of the anatomy theater (introspection) Y
How does the anatomy theater demonstrate that architecture shapes relationships? -Hierarchy-Teacher as object
What was a nunnery? ***** house; it was an insult made by Protestants about Catholics
True or false: Theaters were quite expensive during Shakespeare’s time False: they were quite cheap, a half pence (equivalent to a meal), they were more like a ballgame, especially the people who go to ballgames and those who went to the theater
Describe Venice Romance, back door dealings, slaves were traded
Who was Shakespeare’s main rival? Christopher Marlowe
Who are the most religious characters in MOV? Antonio and Shylock (although I would argue that Portia is more religious than Antonio)
When was MOV written? 1595 or 1596
Remember: When The Merchant of Venice was written, there were not many Jews. Few would have met a Jew. Jews were exiled in ghettoed/walled-off areas of Eastern Europe. They were only allowed to money lend (in Venice? in England?). Shakespeare may not have ever met a JEw. Y
Remember: Antonio has put almost all he owns on the ships to trade. Y
What are some definitions of venture? Financial meaning (“a business enterprise or speculation in which something is risked in the hope of profit; a commercial or other speculation” “the money, ship, cargo, merchandise, or the like, on which risk is taken in a business enterprise or speculation.”); adventure
Remember: Antonio takes out a loan to pay Bassanio’s loan. Y
This is the period of ______ and of ______ and ________. the Reformation; agrarian income; trade
Why might Shakespeare have placed the Merchant of Venice in Venice? To get different costumes on stage. To show other cultures since England was a monoculture, and Venice had lots of diversity (Ottomans, Africans, English, etc.).
Salerio and Solanio are examples of what? What is one reason this device is used? Doubling; points out opposites, and it is a way for one thing to comment on another
What are some examples of doubles in MOV? -Salerio & Solanio-Nerissa & Portia (Nerissa echoes Portia; Nerissa also doubles the ring test with Gratiano)
Why might Graziano be so named? Gratuitous, extraneous, too much
What is one of the biggest questions of MOV? Where does worth really lie? (money and worth)
Remember: Capitalism was a new system for them. Y
What are some examples discussed in class in which money and wealth are discussed? -Salerio and Solanio’s discussion at the beginning of Act 1 with Antonio. They are speaking eloquently to outdo one another (ostentatiousness). -Salerio speaks in Act 1 about how he couldn’t go to church without worrying about money. He also discusses how what could soon be worth nothing. This reminds us of capitalism nowadays (What is of real value?). -Solanio has to go because business calls (he says that a friend is here, but that’s a lie.)-Antonio: “My purse, my person, my extremest means / Lie all unlocked to your occasions.” (the money I have is me/who I am/my worth (pound of flesh); Christianity: the body is the bond, Jesus pays all debts that people owed; is this a troubling perversion of Christianity?)-When Bassanio is talking to Antonio and asking him money. He talks about how he is acting more extravagant than he is, pretending to have more means than he does. he is talking in such a fanciful way in order to hide what he’s really saying (Thanks for the money I’m wasting; I now ask for more).-Bassanio’s talk about shooting an arrow: double or nothing; “I had to spend money to make money; hoping to make more money from Portia by spending money”
How is Portia Christ-like? What are some other Christian symbols/themes in the play? -“from every coast / Renown├Ęd suitors” <– like the wise men-My idea: sort of forgiving for all sins-But she's also racist with the Moorish prince-Bassanio calls himself prodigal (prodigal son)-Old Gobbo is blind-Jessica: prodigal abandoning her father-Launcelot: prodigal abandoning his father-Capitalism, some could argue, is a Christian creation from Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations" (yet some could say that Christianity and capitalism are opposites <– love your neighbor, give in to God, gaining worldly possession puts you further from God)
What are some examples of the theme of money and love? -Jessica and Shylock-Bassanio and Portia-Antonio and Bassanio-Shylock’s saying “O my daughter, O my ducats”
What is the Prince of Morocco’s reasons for not choosing the silver or lead caskets? -He thinks that those who hazard all should do so in the hope of fair advantages, so he doesn’t pick the leaden casket, which says that he would hazard all he has-He’s not totally sure if he deserves Portia, so he doesn’t choose the silver casket
What does the Prince of Morocco get when opening the golden casket? Carrion death = a skull
What is the poem that the Prince of Morocco gets? “All that glisters is not gold. / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold. / Gilded timber do worms enfold. / Had you been as wise as bold, / Young in limbs, in judgment old, / Your answer had not been inscrolled. / Fare you well; your suit is cold.”; part about worms: inside a golden tomb is also what’s inside a leaden tomb (words), golden exterior hides something rotten
Why is Portia’s statement, “Let all of his complexion choose me so” ironic? Just before, the poem the Prince of Morocco receives tells him not to judge a book by its cover.
What do the three locked boxes represent? -The 3 locked boxes that only a clever reader can figure out (the play itself) = metadrama
Note: Shakespearean characters are called by the land they own. Y
What does the Prince of Aragon not choose the gold or lead caskets? -Lead: “You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.” (she has to look better for him to hazard all he has)-Golden chest: talks about the whole inside versus outside distinction, but finally says, “I will not choose what many men desire, / Because I will not jump with common spirits / And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.” <– I'm not many men. I'm special.
Why is the term “swan song” so? The swan was thought to sing only once, just before its death; (Portia: “Then if he lose, he makes a swanlike end”)
Note: Bassanio likes his Latinate Y
Note: Although Bassanio is Venetian, he may know this fairytale trick with the caskets because of the xenophobia with England. Y
What are some examples of locked boxes in the Merchant of Venice? All of this makes us question whether the narrator and characters are reliable. -Bassanio is actually a jerk-Virginity-Blindness: Gobbo doesn’t recognize his own son-Antonio is a locked box to himself (“In sooth I do not know why I am so sad.”)-Most/all characters, like Jessica-Cross-dressing-Reported discovery of Jessica’s escape (we first hear about this, then in Act 3, Scene 1, Shylock talks/tells the story about the ring from Leah, the view we get on the “outside” (Solanio v. Selario) v. the “inside” (Shylock)) -Portia: “Which is the merchant here and which the Jew?”
What was the blood libel? The claim that Jews were drinking Christian babies’ blood (Chaucer writes about this).
What was the claim that Jews were drinking Christian babies’ blood (Chaucer writes about this)? Blood libel
What was the Passover Seder meant to do? Opening the doors, trying to counteract the blood libel
What does Shylock say about Jews having feelings? “Hath not a Jew eyes? When you prick us, do we not bleed?”
If Bassanio has just done what, what would have not occurred? However, why is it more complex than this? If Bassanio had just paid in interest, this wouldn’t have occurred. Without interest, this takes away his means of living.
What is the major problem of Act 4? Of Act 5? What connects both? Shylock; Antonio; How can Portia deal with the threat of both?
Define “deus ex machina”. First, what does it literally mean? “God from the machine”; A problem in a play gets so difficult that a “god” has to show up to solve the problem. In MOV, Portia is this character (she’s wearing a costume and comes from elsewhere). A machine/contraption would help the character be brought down from the rafter or up from the floor.
What is the (Latin?) translation of God from the machine? deus ex machina
What is a line about mercy that Portia says? “In the course of justice none of us / Should see salvation.” <– we don't deserve that much
Define mercifixion Mercy someone to death
What is the term for “mercy someone to death”? Mercifixion
Note: Maybe Portia is the cruelest in the play, seeking mercy against her father and Bassanio. (justice versus mercy) Y
What are the four sets of lovers discussed by Lorenzo and Jessica at the beginning of Act 5? -Troilus (from Troy) and Cressida (from Greece) <– Romeo and Juliet, Cressida was sent from troy to a Greek camp, she mistakes him for the Greek Diomedes-Pyramus and Thisbe-Dido and Aeneas (Dido = Queen of Carthage, Aeneas = Trojan hero, Dido burns herself alive in Virgil's Aenead, they have a love affair, he leaves her to found an entire nation)-Medea and Aeson (Medea was a sorceress who loved Jason and helped him win the Golden Fleece; she magically restored Aeson, Jason's father, to youth)-(They're saying htey're doomed lovers)
Note: Portia is asserting the power taken away from her by her father. Y