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A Taste of Shakespeare Series
The Merchant of Venice

A video guide to the play from Shylock's point of view.

A printer-friendly version of this page 51 minutes
Directed by Eric Weinthal
Produced by Eugenia Educational Foundation

Like the other programs in the series "A Taste of Shakespeare", the purpose of this video is to help modern audiences, especially students, identify with the universal themes in Shakespeare's plot line.

In early productions of this play, Shylock, the Jew, was portrayed as either a buffoon or a bloodthirsty beast. In more recent productions he has been shown in a more sympathetic light, but still as a violent and dangerous man. In this production, we present a more balanced view. Shylock has been very badly treated by certain Christians and he yearns for revenge. He goes too far when he seeks the life of his main persecutor, but he is essentially an intelligent, dignified man who can no longer bear to be humiliated.

In this video, the actor who plays Shylock provides the narrative links between key scenes and the commentary on other characters. The action is shown from Shylock's point of view: the view of a man who is "foreign" to the society in which he lives, and who is made to suffer because he is "different."

Other titles in the series are:

Hamlet - A video guide to Shakespeare's most famous play.

A Midsummer Night's Dream - A video guide to the loveliest of Shakespeare's romantic comedies.

Romeo and Juliet - A video guide to this cautionary tale of teenage love.

King Lear - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies.

Macbeth - A video guide to Shakespeare's "tragedy of blood".

Othello - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, dealing with revenge and pride.

Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1995     Copyright Date: 1995
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-161-4     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-638-0

"The interpretation of Shylock as neither hero nor villain, but both victim and predator himself, nicely straddles the current attempts either to turn Shakespeare's plays into an anti-semitic diatribe or a subtextual indictment of Christian hypocrisy."
Kenneth S. Rothwell, University of Vermont

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The Merchant of Venice

"Shylock as neither hero nor villain, but both victim and predator himself." Kenneth S. Rothwell, University of Vermont

Links (The producer's web site)
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
EXEMPLARY: California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse

English Literature
Language Arts
Performing Arts
Race and Racism

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... more Reviews

"A TASTE OF SHAKESPEARE is the answer to a teacher's prayer. It serves a pressing need by introducing students to the plays of William Shakespeare in a way that makes each play accessible and compelling viewing. [Each program] maintains the language and key scenes of the play which are tied together by an intelligently crafted connecting summary. The result in each case is a thoroughly informative and entertaining overview of the key themes and motifs of each of the drama...the students' appetites for the whole play will be well wetted. Equally important, they will be able to undertake their study of the text with a clear understanding of its over-arching architecture and a real feel for its drama and language. This is unquestionably the most satisfying, authoritative and pedagogically useful video introduction to the...plays of William Shakespeare I have seen. This series is a superb achievement - a wonderful marriage of modern scholarship and media production."
Dr. John MacDonald, Professor of English Education, University of Toronto

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