“What news on the Rialto?” Alcune considerazioni sociologico-comunicative su Il mercante di Venezia


Abstract – The chapter examines the sociological content of The Merchant of Venice. It particularly focuses on the behavior of three characters: Antonio, the merchant (to whom the work is dedicated, although he is not the main character), the beautiful and rich Portia (whom Bassanio, Antonio’s best friend, intends to marry) and Shylock (the Jewish financier who lends Antonio a large sum, that the merchant will transfer to Bassanio, so that he could present himself to Portia in an appropriate manner according to the customs of the time). Antonio’s attitude is an almost incomprehensible state of sadness: Antonio is actually so attached to Bassanio to suffer in advance for his future loneliness (when Bassanio will marry Portia), being beside himself with a feeling of friendship following the classics of the literature. Portia is the most dynamic character of the comedy: she is bound to her father’s will, but she smartly succeeds in standing out as a wise sharp woman. Her character shows Shakespeare’s interest towards proto-feminist forms of behavior. Conversely, Shylock is a narratively mighty, but tormented, character: mistreated and insulted by Antonio, he considers the merchant’s request of loan as a chance for revenge, hoping that he will not be able to pay it back. In this case, Shylock could take his revenge by removing a pound of meat from him. Although his resentment and thirst for revenge make Shylock odious to the spectator and the reader, Shakespeare manages to perform a prodigy introducing, at the same time, a victim of violence and prejudices, and, as such, an emblem of injustice suffered not only by the Jewish people, but by all the oppressed.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v27p139

Keywords: Shakespeare; Proto-feminism; Shylock; Sociology of Literature; Social Narratives


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