The 12 Plays of Christmas – Day 10 – The Merchant of Venice

Welcome to Day 10!  Traditionally January 3 is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially ‘named’ in the Jewish Temple. So what better choice of play than “The Merchant of Venice”.

“The Merchant of Venice” centers around a few key players.  Portia, who needs to marry, is keen on Bassanio.  He however lacks money, so works on a plan with Antonio, who borrows money from the merchant Shylock the Jew.  Antonio however loses his fortune at sea, and owes Shylock a pound of flesh. Portia is in the background during all this, and decides to dress as a man, and act as the lawyer for Antonio to save the day.  Ultimately Shylock ends worse off, Portia and Bassanio end up together, and Antonio lives.

There is a side story around Jessica, the daughter of Shylock.  She falls in love with a Christian, and marries him.  Shylock is less than pleased when his daughter changes religion.

The themes of “The Merchant of Venice” are so pertinent today.  I would recommend either looking at the play through a feminist lens, or that of religion.  Tackling the story looking at religious extremists today would be fascinating.  Looking at the role of women in power, or the lack of power, also creates a strong allegory.

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