The Merchant of Venice is a fascinating headache of a play and didn’t Shakespeare intend it so? He clangs two worlds together, the Venice of early cutthroat capitalism and the fairy tale kingdom of Belmont. In the former the merchant Antonio pledges the moneylender Shylock a “pound of flesh” as surety to finance his friend Bassanio’s courtship of Portia, Belmont’s mistress. Belmont is a version of Elysium, and Antonio puts himself in (...
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