A Different Kind of Merchant [2021 UPDATE]

The Merchant of Venice & 9 Other Shakespeare Plays

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in 1564. Because of the time period, there were no records of births being kept as there is today. It was customary that when a child was born they would be baptized 3 days after their birth. Records show that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, which means his birth occurred on April 23, 1564. And since there were no hospitals and labor rooms like there is in modern society, he was born at home to John and Mary Shakespeare. William had 7 other siblings. Two of his sisters died of the Bubonic Plague at a very young age. He was the 3rd child of his parents.

The Shakespeare’s were devout Catholics. They had to keep their religious beliefs and customs a secret for fear of being persecuted, tortured or imprisoned. At that time the “chosen” religion was that of Protestant. Anyone practicing anything other than what the ruling Monarch had declared would suffer dire consequences for their actions. It is believed that because of the strict religious laws of the land, William Shakespeare’s writing career would have suffered immensely if it was known that he and his family were Catholics.

Shakespeare became famous because of his writing ability, having the talent for creating words, phrases, characters and plots brought about through historical events and other literary readings that he exposed himself to. He took his insights and understandings of a particular situation and turned it around, adding a whole new story dimension and structure to it. He created complicated characters and plots out of something ordinary and then tangled, twisted and turned the idea into a spinning spider web of entertainment for his viewers. This is what made him a famous writer. Some of his writings include that of phrases, some of which are still used today, phrases such as All is Well that Ends Well, As Dead as A Doornail, and Fight Fire with Fire. He developed these sayings.

William Shakespeare had many talents under his belt; he was an actor, a dramatist, and a bard or a poet. In this article, you will find information and resources on 10 of his well known plays; after all, this man has written and created 38 plays all together. That includes comedies, history, and tragedies, all written before his death at the age of 52. He died April 23, 1616.

SHAKESPEARE’S COMEDY PLAYS:

William Shakespeare created 17 comedy plays during his lifetime. In this section, we will give you information on five of the popular titles from his comedy list. Documented information tells us that none of Shakespeare’s plays were ever published; however, 18 different versions of his works were published after his death by unprincipled authors, because there were no laws protecting the written works of writers during the Shakespeare era.

The Merchant of Venice

This comedy act written by Shakespeare was first brought to the stage between 1596 & 1597, for at that time there was a high demand by the elite for more quality entertainment during the Elizabethan era. The story idea takes place in Venice and Belmont. There are three main characters in this play; Shylock, Antonio, and Portia. The basis of this story sheds light into Jewish persecution, whereas Jewish people had to pretend to be Christians in order to be treated fairly and justly in England. During this time period the Jews were forbidden to live in the British Common Wealth. It was this law that brought about the twists and turns in Shakespeare’s mindset causing him to put his personal views into the plaguing issue of discrimination and Anti-Semitism.

We Love the Arts: The Merchants of Venice
Summary of the Plot or Story

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There are 19 characters in the play, “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” However, it is a love triangle tale depicting two couples, Hermia & Lysander and Helena & Demetrius. This play shows just how mind boggling and difficult a marriage or relationship can be to maintain. It shows just how complicated things can get when relationships are arranged, or when there is no attraction for the other person. This is the case with Helena who is in love with Demetrius, but his love interest is Hermia who wishes to elope with her lover, Lysander. This play gives a new twist on magical interludes that deal with actual married couples, like parents and upcoming nuptial ceremonies for those soon-to-be married partners involving daughters and sons. The play takes place in Athens and in a mythical forest, surrounded by elves and magical plants; this is the background setting for A Midsummer’s Night Dream, couples escaping reality as they find love and their soul mates.

Summary of Midsummer Night’s Dream
Scene by Scene Synopsis

Taming the Shrew

It seems that The Taming of the Shrew is a play based upon the idea of a wife being obedient towards her husband. In this play, though there are a host of characters, the two main characters are Katherine, the headstrong daughter of Baptista Minola, who is a tad bit unruly and Petruchio, who wishes to marry her. Petruchio is after the dowry and believes that he can tame her and mold her into an obedient servant of his. However, Katherine soon finds out that by obeying her husband, she gets what she wants too in the marriage. This is a play surrounded in impersonation and deceit as Petruchio gets exactly what he wants in a wife, but not without taming the shrew first.

Plot Summary
How it All Goes Down

Much Ado about Nothing

In this play, Shakespeare has found a way to depict male and female relationships, showing how couples blossom and bloom together. Another factor in this play is how a couple makes that love connection, or interest connection. Can it be love at first sight, or does it need more time for that connection to lead to marriage, which is a commitment. This play deals with two couples; Claudio & Hero and Beatrice & Benedick. One couple has no past history together, while the other has had a fling in the past that did not lead to a personal relationship. Another issue he brings out is couples getting together because of the physical attraction and the desire for men to marry not only noble women, but ones who are virtuous as well. These are the things that Much Ado About Nothing addresses in an extraordinary kind of way.

The Tempest

The Tempest is a play that starts off with a ship sailing at sea during a tempestuous storm overcoming the ship and crew. The men have to work together to keep from being ship wrecked. However, insults and anger take over from the captain as he gives orders to his crew, telling the counselor that if he can’t calm the sea, he is useless and might as well just go to his cabin below because he is worthless.

The play depicts how human beings react when facing trouble, danger, and chaos, showing that jealousy and anger can uproot a foundation. This play is also filled with the notion of spirits coming on board the ship speaking to certain members of the crew.

SHAKESPEARE’S TRAGEDY PLAYS:

In all of Shakespeare’s plays dealing with tragedy and misery, the main characters are responsible for having traits that are good and evil, regardless if they are male or female. In his tragedy settings, the protagonist must always come eye to eye and meet their fate head on as they do in the five listed plays below.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are young lovers from two different worlds and backgrounds. He is a Montague and she is a Capulet and both families are rivals. Although Romeo and Juliet plan to marry, it is a secret that they try to hide. However, while Juliet is planning her secret escape to marry, her family is planning her marriage to a man name Paris. Juliet refuses to go along with the arranged marriage and she decides to fake her death to get out of it. She expected the man helping her with the fake suicide to get a message to Romeo about what is to happen. Romeo does not receive the message and believes Juliet is dead. Standing over her grave, Romeo kills himself. Juliet wakes from the sleeping potion to find her love dead; she takes his dagger and kills herself. The death of the young couple brings the feuding families together in grief, ending the long rival.

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra is a play depicting the lives of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII. Shakespeare writes the story showing a Roman so madly in love with the Queen that he would do anything for her. According to a written synopsis of the play, Antony was married to a woman named Fluvia and Cleopatra was his mistress while being the Queen of Egypt. While Antony put roots down in Egypt, he lived with the queen until his wife’s death. Antony moved back to Rome at the request of Caesar. Caesar was upset over how Antony was living in Egypt. To make amends for his behavior, Antony decided to marry Octavia, Caesar’s sister. However, that union did not last long and Antony left his new wife and fled back to Egypt to be with Cleopatra. Caesar was appalled over the desertion and went after Cleopatra and Antony in hopes of taking control of Egypt. Antony kills himself over the defeat. Upon his death, Cleopatra committed suicide, taking her life by deliberately having poisonous snakes bite her.

Hamlet

Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is a tale that is woven with conflict, identity crisis, errors in misjudgment, and Betrayal. Hamlet is shown as a crazed young man who can’t decipher reality from falsehood when it comes to his family. He has a hard time judging right from wrong, only believing in what he can see. In the play, Hamlet’s confused state of mind is revealed when his father’s ghost appears to him and urges him to get revenge for his untimely death, which was caused by his uncle, his father’s brother… King Claudius.

Othello

When it comes to a play that shows the issues of people in the past and in the today’s society, Othello does just that. This is a play that deals with racial issues, jealousy, betrayal, lying, infidelity, and a forbidden love. In this timeless treasure of a tale, Othello is a black Venetian General and he is married to Desdemona, daughter of Senator Brabantio. However, his marriage is tampered with by spreading rumors that his wife is unfaithful, which leads Othello to want her dead at his hands. He smothers her with a bed pillow and then stabs himself to death.

Macbeth

In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare has the action taking place in Medieval Scotland. It is a story saturated with witchery, witches come to the aid of Macbeth giving him prophecy of what will happen to him. It is Macbeths desire to become Thane of Cawdor, and he goes about making this happen through ruthless means. He is drawn into the realm of leadership through his ambition and strong desire that leave no room for personal values or moral judgment as he gets what he wants, even if it brings him to a violent end. Although the play Macbeth is a short play, it is one that is based around several themes. Those themes are prophecy, guilt and remorse, ghosts and visions, ambition and temptation. It also deals with the concepts of the natural and supernatural.

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