The Merchant of Venice Themes & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 163 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Merchant of Venice.
This section contains 875 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Merchant of Venice Study Guide

Economics is a prime concern in The Merchant of Venice, and one major critical perspective treats the playas a clash between emerging mercantile sensibilities and religious traditions. During Shakespeare's time, usury (lending money for interest) became an accepted business practice as profits became increasingly more important than religious principles. The rivalry between Antonio andShylock is often viewed as an example of two conflicting business ethics. Although Shylock rep resents usury as a pragmatic and legitimate business practice, Antonio embodies a more idealistic perspective of the profession. Following Christian precepts, the merchant generously lends his money interest-free because his wealth and means   allow him to do so. This fundamental economic contention, in addition to the two characters' religious differences, establishes their enmity toward one another and creates a rivalry that reaches its climax in the trial sequence (Act IV, scene i). Bassanio's marriage to Portia demonstrates another economic...

(read more from the Principal Topics section)

This section contains 875 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Merchant of Venice Study Guide
Copyrights
Shakespeare for Students
The Merchant of Venice from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.