In this essay I will discuss whether “The Merchant of Venice” still deserves to be classed as a comedy. I found parts of this play far from amusing, although I can understand why Elizabethans would find this comedy entertainment. An audience in Elizabethan times also would have a very different attitude towards Jews from an audience of today . Jews were often forbidden to own land or have a trade which meant that money lending was all that was available to them. The modern audience may be horrified by the attitude towards Shylock.
In the play Antonio, a rich merchant whose money is temporally tied up in his business, agrees to borrow three thousand ducats to give his close friend Bassanio so that he can finance a trip to Belmont and present himself as a suitor for Portia , who is a rich heiress. Antonio is confident that he will easily repay the money so he signs a bond with Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. He agrees that if he does not repay the money within three months he will forfeit to Shylock a pound of his flesh as a “Merry Bond”. Shylock hates Antonio for the way he has treated him in the past. Antonio’s ships are then lost at sea.
I think the play deserves to be classed as a comedy as there were many aspects of the play which Elizabethans would find amusing. In the play Shakespeare shows the cleverness of characters outwitting others and also the way women outwit men. An example of this is when Jessica, Shylocks daughter elopes and takes Shylocks money:
“I will make fast the doors, then gild myself with some more ducats”.
Elizabethans would find this funny as Shylock treasures his money and he places his trust in Jessica to look after it, however he is unaware that Jessica is planning to elope with Lorenzo, a Christian, and take his money with them. When Shylock finds out that his daughter and his ducats are gone he is angry and upset, and is said to have been shouting in the streets:
’My daughter! O my ducats!...