The Merchant of Venice is a play that deals with an assortment of issues that range from politics to racial views of the Jewish people. An embodiment of these two issues can be best attributed to the character of Shylock. In a 2004 production of The Merchant of Venice, by Michael Radford, we see the character of Shylock is portrayed in a different light than that of Shakespeare's 1594 villainous Jew. Both productions pose a series of questions in comparison. An understanding of the era that these plays were written in and the audience’s perception of the production attribute greatly to a true analysis. Another aspect of these productions asks who Shylock was to Shakespeare and who he has developed into for Al Pacino and Michael Radford.
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The English audience would pick up on these cues and conclude that Shylock was unaligned with the music of the cosmos and spheres of the Heavens. In a speech by Lorenzo, the importance of ‘having music’ in one’s life is emphasized once again. In act 5 scene 1 lines 80-87, Lorenzo discusses the importance of music and the consequence of not having it in one’s life. A music less Jew is not to be trusted. Despite the common beliefs of the sixteenth-century English audience, there is no sign of Shakespeare’s true views
Shakespeare’s true views on anti-semitism are still at debate to this day. There are sound arguments for both sides. Was Shakespeare trying to please the Crown or were these his true view? Pro anti-semiotic argue that if Shakespeare didn’t have anti-semiotic view then why would he write a play that centers on this topic? The rebuttal would beg to question the intentions behind the play. Does this play truly paint Shylock in a negative light or are his action in mere response to the given situation? It is because of this question new productions are allowed to evolve past the anti-semiotic view and add new elements that play out this question even more. There is not a right answer to Shakespeare’s true intentions or views but there are many interpretations.
In the 2004 production of The Merchant of Venice, the view of the Jewish people has shifted greatly. The main pivoting point was World War II. This not only