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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.


This is a very interesting take on Shakespeare, Kristin. You present good points, although you sound like a bra-burner. Just kidding...those truly are valid points, except the thing you leave out is that yes, women serve as influential characters in The Merchant of Venice, but they are only listened to because they were dressed as men, not because they were women. It's true in the plays we've read so far that when women were listened to, there was less chaos and death and more order and reason. But this might be merely coincidence because no specific attention was drawn to the fact that they were women. I think the reality is that if Shakespeare wanted to create a believable situation in Merchant, he had to have the influential women dressed as men. This was the only way anyone would listen to them, because that was the case in the era that the play was written.

I think you found an interesting point which I was not really paying attention to. It made me think more about how women are influential in the Shakespeare’s plays we have read so far whether is good or bad. Regan and Goneril had bad influences in the play whereas it seems that Portia contributed in the happy ending in Merchant of Venice. However, I think what you pointed out may be just a mere coincidence like Maggie said. If it was not Portia who judged the case in Merchant of Venice but some other guy with the same decision, things would still work out well. It was her clever decision that turned out the situation into a good outcome. So, I guess Portia was listened to in the play because of her wise decision that saved Antonio regardless of how she looked.