Original Sources of The Merchant of Venice
Though Shakespeare’s name is world renowned for its success as a playwright, most of his stories main ideas can be found elsewhere throughout the course of literary history. In II Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino, one can see that Shakespeare found his inspiration for The Merchant of Venice’s revenge plot and its Jewish Character Shylock. In Gesta Romanorum, an ancient English work which was translated by Richard Robinson, one can read on the original source for a test Shakespeare incorporates in The Merchant of Venice. Finally, In the story Zelauto: The Fountain of Fame by Anthony Munday, one can find Shakespeare’s source for his character Bassiano; a young man out in search for a distant and rich woman. Through the reference of these sources, Shakespeare constructed what is known today as The Merchant of Venice. As a result, in essence The Merchant of Venice had been created long before Shakespeare, though it was not nearly as famous until it was retold by him in 1597.
In the book Il Pecorone, one can see a source of inspiration for Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare found his main female character and Jewish antagonist in the writings of Fiorentino
The story in Il Pecorone tells of a wealthy woman at Belmont who marries an upstanding young gentleman. Her husband needs money and has friend, desperate to help, goes to a money-lender to borrow the required cash for his friend. The money-lender, who is also a Jew in Il Pecorone, demands a pound of flesh as payment if the money is not paid back. When the money is not paid in time, the Jew goes to court to ensure he
receives what he is owed. The friend's life is saved when the wealthy wife
speaks in court of true justice and convinces the judge to refuse the Jew
his pound of flesh. (Mabillard, 2000)
This shows how similar the two stories are. In The Merchant of Venice, Portia; the heiress from Belmont marries an upstanding young man named...