Tag Archives: The Merchant of Venice

Poetry Friday ~ The Merchant of Venice

29 May

Hi, everyone! It’s the fourth week of the month, which means, we get a Theme Prompt! Merril D. Smith, the winner from last month’s challenge selected a quote from Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice as this month’s theme. Colleen’s 2020 Weekly Poetry Challenge

This week’s theme is:

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

After each good deed

no parade or accolades

Take a step higher

on heaven’s ladder until

you have reached St. Peter’s gate

I read The Merchant of Venice in high school, and I remember having mixed feelings about it. The Jewish loan shark (okay, moneylender) Shylock horrifed me with his request for a pound of flesh as payment for a loan.

Here’s a rough and short summary of the story: A man named Antonio owned a fleet of merchant ships. One day, a gold-digging friend of his, Bassanio asked him for a loan so that he could pursue a rich woman named Portia. But Antonio’s ships had not come in with his merchandise yet, so he had no money to lend him. Instead, Antonio tells his friend to ask Shylock for the loan promising that he’d pay it back once his ships return. When Bassanio asked Shylock for the loan, instead of charging extremely high rates of interest, as he usually did, the moneylender asked that a pound of Antonio’s flesh be the payment if the loan was not paid within three months.

Three months went by, and Antonio’s ships had not returned. He was told that they were lost at sea. It was time to repay the loan, but Antonio was broke. Shylock had him arrested and demanded his pound of flesh. Bassanio, now married to the heiress Portia, offered her money to pay the loan. However, Shylock held a grudge against Antonio because he considered him competition in the loan business and an anti-Semite (which he was). Shylock insisted he must be allowed to extract a pound of flesh from Antonio as per their contract.

Long story short (too late), Portia, (Bassanio’s rich wife) dressed as a lawyer (?) managed to safe Antonio’s life. She won the case against Shylock by stating that there was no mention of blood in the contract. Therefore, if he could extract a pound of flesh from Antonio without spilling any of his blood he could go ahead and do so, but if he spilled one drop of his blood he would go to jail. Of course, Shylock knew it would be impossible to cut out a pound of flesh from a man without an enormous amount of blood shed.

In the end, Shylock lost his daughter and part of his wealth to another of Antonio’s friends, and was forced to become a Christian (antisemitism). Antonio’s ships came in afterall, and he and his friends lived happily ever after with their spouses. At times, I viewed Shylock as a villain and other times as a victim. Nevertheless, The Merchant of Venice is a story worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a fabulous day!