A name I have been hearing long before I read The Merchant of Venice. The trial scene in this play holds strong dramatic importance and the argument made is one of the strongest arguments made in literature.
But surprisingly I never knew that it was a woman who made this argument. Shakespeare’s world was a world dominated by men so he used his wit to enlighten the people’s minds so they could accept the new ideas they were to face in the future. A woman arguing in the court of law and winning the case was not something that the Elizabethan society was used to seeing.
The play has a very tense storyline for a comedy, and is gripping till the very end. Antonio, a merchant of Venice borrows money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock. When Antonio’s business fails, repayment becomes impossible–and according to the loan agreement, Shylock is able to demand a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
And then, there is Portia. Portia, Oh Portia. She is magic, that one. She is a woman with passion and brains that surpasses her peers by daring to break the rules in order to save the day.
The play also tackles with other social themes like the complexities of wealth and casteism. Shylock being a Jew has been mocked by his Christian antagonists so much so that his hurt pride seeks revenge.
This was one of my fastest Shakespeare reads and I absolutely enjoyed it!