Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”
To be perfectly honest, I typically find Shakespeare especially difficult to understand, and in turn, boring. However, I do tend to enjoy viewing his plays, which is the main reason why I decided to attend “The Merchant of Venice” for my event. This particular production was purposely performed the way the plays were in Shakespeare’s day; the performers played multiple roles, were on stage at all times, and the entire theater stayed lit throughout the performance. This greatly added to the authenticity of the play as well as giving the feeling of living in Shakespeare’s time.
The play opened with the actors singing U2’s song, “One.” I thought this was kind of odd because immediately after explaining that the play was going to be similar to Shakespeare’s day, they sang a modern day song. However, with lyrics like, “we’re one, but we’re not the same,” I later came to realize its significance to the story of “The Merchant of Venice.” In one scene Shylock even speaks about how just because he is a Jew and the others are Christians, they are all people. Opening with this particular song was an effective way to relate the story to the viewers, as it describes two different kinds of people, in both aspects of religion and social status.
A prominent reason as to why I enjoyed the play so much was because of the consistent humor throughout the performance. Shakespeare again revealed his humorous side, just like in the poem, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” A particular scene that I personally found quite amusing was when confidants Portia and Nerissa were talking about the various guys who want to wed Portia and she continually makes fun of them all. This scene was so relatable to how my girlfriends and I talk to each other. I never thought I would relate that strongly to Shakespeare as he was writing so many years ago.
The story line between Jessica, a Jew, and Lorenzo, a Christian, strikingly resembled that of Romeo and Juliet. It was here that I noticed Shakespeare’s subtle repetition of themes. I do believe, however, that this repetition says a lot about Shakespeare’s character in that he was trying to teach a lesson; this lesson being that we cannot, and should not, judge or hate one another simply because of our religion, background, social status, or any other attributes not in our control. It reinstates the fact that you must love people for who they are, not for where they come from or what they believe in.
These lessons that Shakespeare teaches us greatly relate to those of the Jesuit education, which we receive here at Loyola College. As a part of a Jesuit college were are taught values and morals to instill in our lives. Shakespeare’s lesson to not unfairly judge others is just one example of the lessons we are taught at Loyola. Had I not decided to go attend a Jesuit college, these values and morals may not have been communicated and taught to me in and outside of the classroom. This is one aspect of my college that I greatly admire and am very thankful for.