William Shakespeare was born in the city of Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in 1564. His father John Shakespeare was a merchant and had previously been an alderman. Shakespeare had three younger brothers and two older sisters…
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In 1582 when he was eighteen years old, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway who was eight years older than him. She bore him three children, Susanna as the first born and twins who were named Judith and Hamnet. Shakespeare and his family lived in London. Much is not known about Shakespeare life from 1584 to 1592 (Buckley 1417). Shakespeare worked with Lord Chamberlain's Men acting company. In 1592, Shakespeare presented Henry VI, King John and Titus Andronicus, plays that many think that he could have written during his lost years. Their quality varied significantly and showed that Shakespeare adapted them from existing scripts. He also wrote poems, presenting one of his greatest poems in 1593 called Venus and Adonis. This was followed by the Ravishment of Lucrece, which was written in 1594 (Tejvan 2009). Besides writing poems and plays, Shakespeare also worked as an actor. In 1609, a book containing one hundred and fifty four sonnets written by Shakespeare was published. Some of the notable plays written early in his life are Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, and the Taming of the Shrew. In the last half of his career, Shakespeare wrote his greatest plays that included, King Lear, Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth. He is said to have introduced approximately three thousand words to the English language through his work in literature. In 1616, he died in his hometown of Stratford at the age of fifty two (Tejvan 2009). Review of the Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a comedy written by Shakespeare. The play is about Antonio, the merchant of Venice, his friends and his adversary, Shylock who is a money lender. Basssanio, Antonio’s close friend, wants to marry Portia, a smart beautiful lady with a vast inheritance (Sokol 209). However, Bassanio does not have the money to travel to Portia’s home and goes to Antonio to borrow some money. Antonio’s money is held up in the sea as his boats have not returned from a business voyage. Antonio tells Bassanio to borrow three thousand ducats from Shylock, which Antonio will pay once his ships arrive from the business trip. Shylock agrees and puts stringent measures because he dislikes Antonio, where he insists on cutting a pound of flesh from his torso if the money is not paid back on the date agreed upon (Corbett 2009). Shylock has a beautiful daughter who falls in love with Lorenzo, a friend to Bassanio. As Bassanio leaves to meet Portia, Jessica also escapes with a sizeable amount of Shylock’s wealth and elopes with Lorenzo (Sokol 210). At Portia’s home, Bassanio and his entourage are welcomed and it becomes apparent that Portia likes him and would want him to pass a test that his father had designed. Portia’s father had prepared three boxes made of different materials, some being expensive while one was not. For any man to marry Portia, he had to select the box with Portia’s portrait. The play shows that a few wealthy suitors had failed but Bassanio succeeded (Corbett 2009). Bassanio now has won Portia, Lorenzo has Jessica but one problem arises. Antonio’s ships have not arrived meaning that his debt to shylock debt has not been paid. Portia agrees to pay the amount and even multiply it but since Shylock resents Antonio, he refuses and insists on his day in court. Portia disguised as an attorney, defends Antonio without his or Bassanio’s knowledge. Shylock demands for justice, which is the pound of flesh and the witty Portia asks him to cut Antonio flesh but on one condition. Antonio should not bleed since the contract did not include the shedding of blood. Antonio wins the case and Portia reveals herself later to Bassanio as he had
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William Apess and Frederick Douglass
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