After reading about Lear going crazy and Edmund taking advantage of his father in King Lear, and Richard goign on a killing spree to become King in King Richard the Third, I think the Merchant of Venice is incredibly refreshing.
Although there are references to violence its fun to finally have a happy ending rather then an ending thats used to conquer the evil that has been dominating the entire play. However, this may be mere coincidence but it seems that when intelligent women took charge of the situation in a play nobody ended up dying.
Yes I know that the Merchant of Venice is considered a comedy rather than a tragedy or history but in both King Lear and Richard the Third women tried to get a hold of the situation but were not listened to and this ultimately led to the downfall of others. In King Lear, Cordelia stands up for herself against her father and instead of appreciating her he disinherits her which leads to people taking advantage of his vulnerability and him going crazy. In Richard the Third Margaret curses everyone trying to warn them that their actions will cause them to pay. But they refuse to listen and everyone ends up dyign in some way before evil is conquered.
Now finally in the Merchant of Venice, Portia and Nerissa have contorl of their circumstances and since they are dressed up as men people actually listen to them. This leads to Antonio not having a pound of flesh removed from his body and Jessica receiving her father's inheritance. The body count is zero and everyone is happy. When clever women dictate, everythign works out, which leads me to believe that Shakespeare knew exactly what he was talking about. He knew that behind all great ideas are women, and that if men would only listen to women the world would be a better place.