The Merchant of Venice | Critical Essay by Eleanor Prosser

This literature criticism consists of approximately 20 pages of analysis & critique of The Merchant of Venice.
This section contains 8,339 words
(approx. 28 pages at 300 words per page)
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Critical Essay by Eleanor Prosser

SOURCE: Prosser, Eleanor. “Shakespeare and Revenge.” In Hamlet and Revenge. 1967. Reprint, pp. 74-94. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971.

In the following essay, Prosser surveys a number of examples of Shakespearean characters who either choose or decline to pursue personal vengeance. She finds no evidence that Shakespeare's plays portray private revenge as divinely sanctioned, required by a code of honor, or justified by social convention; instead, she argues, they repeatedly link revenge with such pernicious traits as irrationality, impulsiveness, and madness.

Even though revenge was generally condemned in the Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, theatrical convention is not a certain guide in interpreting a given play. Obviously Shakespeare was not bound by a tradition that saw King John as a pre-Reformation hero or Hal as a raucous, thieving wastrel. We cannot understand Shakespeare's Lear by analyzing audience reaction to...

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This section contains 8,339 words
(approx. 28 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by Marty Roth