"The Merchant of Venice" is one of Shakespeare`s most popular comedies, but it remains deeply controversial. The text may well seem anti-Semitic; yet repeatedly, in performance, it has revealed a contrasting nature. Shylock, though vanquished in the law-court, often triumphs in the theatre. He is a character so intense that he can dominate the play, challenging abrasively its romantic and lyrical affirmations.
What results is a bitter-sweet drama, both gratifying and troubling. The lovers may eventually rejoice, but there are strange discords before the final harmony is achieved. Though "The Merchant of Venice" offers some of the traditional pleasures of comedy, it also exposes the perennial operations of prejudice. Thus Shakespeare remains our contemporary.
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