Merchant of Venice Personal Response

The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare can be found as a play or a movie, and has hundreds of different interpretations. In each adaptation one common theme remains: Outward appearances do not always reflect the truth and can often be deceiving. I found this both extremely interesting, and extremely relatable, because even though Shakespeare lived 400 years ago we can still see this theme in our everyday lives. On a large public scale it can be seen in politics, and on a smaller more personally relatable scale I experience it with meeting people online. I really liked seeing this because it shows that really nothing much has changed, and I like to think that even 400 years before Shakespeare’s time it was the same.

Another thing I really enjoyed was contrasting what was written by Shakespeare himself, and what Micheal Radford directed in his screenplay. If I were to have only experienced one of the variations I would not get as rich an experience as I did. I find Radford’s interpretation very interesting because as Mr. MacKnight says: “Books raise questions”. Which is true in the case of Shakespeare’s take, but Radford’s seems to answer those questions for us. For example, in the original, it is unclear as to if Bassanio and Antonio are homosexual. But in Radford’s edition he clearly indicates that there is another type of love there.

Similarly, we see more of how interpretation changes the way a story is with Shylock’s conversion to Christianity. Back when the play was written it would be clear that Shylock would be the bad guy and would go through all these terrible things to in the end find salvation in Christianity. This would be in line with the beliefs of the Christian population at the time, but would seem pretty terrible to us. So instead we see his forced conversion to Christianity as a punishment. I of course agree with the modern take but I enjoyed how by changing the way you interpret the story will completely.

In the end I really enjoyed reading and watching both things because it made me realize that I actually do like Shakespeare. All my life before I thought Shakespeare was some old bum who spoke nonsense but now that I can understand it better, I can appreciate the great story he writes. I never thought I would say this but I wish they would make more Shakespeare plays into movies. Luckily, Steven Spielberg is remastering West Side Story which I will most likely watch.

6 thoughts on “Merchant of Venice Personal Response”

  1. Hi Coen, I love how you contrasted clearly the difference between literature and movies. I agree that both provides its own uniqueness as forms of arts so by experiencing both, you get the best in both world, helping you understand better the story and your appreciation for it.

  2. Coen, I find it interesting how you compared and contrasted the movie and book version of the story, and how it helped you interpret the play. I agree that the movie gives another interesting perspective, as this story seems to be very subject to perspective, and can be perceived in multiple ways. I also find it funny how you say “it made me realize that I actually do like Shakespeare” which I had a similar experience to (which I wrote about in my PR).

  3. Hi Coen, great response! I liked the way you compared and contrasted between the movie and the play. I also agree that there are so many different interpretations that actually bring more questions as you keep reading and watching the movie. , and I also really enjoyed the movie!

  4. Hi Coen, I really like how you projected Shakespeare’s play which was created about 400 years ago, to the present time. I agree your statement, that you “needed” the book and the screenplay to get the full experience. It’s interesting what you say about finding salvation in Christianity, I never looked at it like that.

  5. Hi Coen this is an excellent personal response. I agree with when you said that you thought Shakespeare was some old bum who spoke nonsense. I agree that his plays can be interpreted in many different ways. Could you say some examples of how some themes of the play can be seen in politics?

  6. Good response Coen. It was interesting how you compared the movie and the play and how it lead you to learn and interpret in different ways. Your response seemed well thought out and clear, nice job.

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