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The False Tragedy of Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – Part II

In this enlightening lecture, Dr. White comments on how the modern adaptations of The Merchant of Venice turn a beautiful comedy into a tragedy of Shylock, thus ruining the play’s comedic purpose and message. He sets about refuting this false view and showing the audience what Shylock’s real place in the play is, disclosing his true role as the villain or problem of the play, and how he comes to be in that position to begin with. He discusses the role of outsiders in Shakespeare’s great comedies in relation to Shylock, and refutes the charge of racism leveled against the playwright, pointing out among other things that there were hardly enough Jews in England in Shakespeare’s time for him to conceive a driving hatred of them. An exposition of Shylock’s intense hate of Antonio and all he stands for leads into a brilliant discussion of the problem of usury within the context of the play and the fundamental disorderedness of usury in general.

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