I needed something light and amusing to dispel that horrible image of the “soft tangle of black fur on April Lindner’s version of Jane Eyre. :) Yuck! Hoping to cleanse my memory with Shakespeare, I was faced with another “hairy” image: “what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast more hair on thy chin, than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail.” At least this description from a father to his son made me giggle. The Merchant of Venice
is chock full of that silly humor and witty banter I just love. It’s not heavy like Shakespeare’s tragedies, and can be read through rather quickly—a play about pledges, promises and betrothals, ending with an amusing happy conclusion. I like that the women have the upper hand here, the guys with their fierce male loyalties acting sort of lost with those dopey looks that remind me of the Nac Mac Feegles from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Though, not all of the play is fun, games and levity… Shakespeare employs that old stereotypical use of the archetypal Jewish villain that’s often found in British literature. Yet here, I do believe that Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock is not entirely villainous, and depending on how his speeches are read, it is possible to glean a sense of sympathy from the wording of the play.
This is definitely one of my Shakespeare favorites.