The merchant of Venice (1900) PDF by William Shakespeare

The merchant of Venice by Shakespeare 

The merchant of Venice



The editorial contributions to the present edition of The Merchant of Venice are of two kinds. In the Introduction the editor has tried to treat the play somewhat broadly, and to make the various sections illustrative of methods of study to be pursued also in other plays. Tims the accounts of the date and sources of the play are given at a length which without this explanation might seem excessive.

 In the same way, certain typical peculiarities of Shakspere's verse and language have been treated in the Introduction, in the hope that the student, by seeing the illustrations grouped together and by referring to them from the text, will come to recognize the forms in his further reading of the author. 

On the contrary, in the notes and the glossary, which are to be used in direct connection with the text, the editor has striven to keep strictly within the limits of information needed for the understanding of the words of the play, so that the interruption of the normal process of reading may be as slight as possible. The aim has been to suggest to the student that his chief object should be to read the text understanding^, not to master a certain quantity of Elizabethan lore. 

In the division of matter between notes and glossary, such explanations as referring simply to the particular passages under consideration have been placed in the notes, while synonyms for words of the ordinary occurrence in Shakspere are given in the glossary. By the use of other editions, especially Dr Furness's Variorum, the teacher will be able to supplement the notes, but it is suggested that such comment be directed toward the explanation of constructions and uses of language common in Shakspere and his contemporaries, rather than toward the examination of passages, possibly corrupt, to which the ingenuity of editors have given fictitious importance. There are two methods of study to which Shaks- pere's plays are subjected. 

One consists of the examination and the interpretation of the text. On the other, the play is considered as a masterpiece of the dramatic form and is examined by scenes to determine the place of each in the advancement of the plot, the development of character, and the enforcement of the main theme. Both theories are useful. Neither by itself is sufficient; either may be pressed too far.

 It should not be forgotten that Shakspere wrote his play to give pleasure, that our object in reading it is to enjoy it, and that it is according as our study yields additional enjoyment that it is successful. It is, however, perfectly certain, since poetry is an art that appeals to the intellect as well as to the emotions, that the play will be the more enjoyed the more it is understood. 


Thus, in handling the play in class, enough questions must be asked upon the interpretation of the text to make sure that the student understands the word or phrase, and can refer it for comparison to a passage containing the same word or construction if one has occurred earlier in the play. Some suggestions toward the use of the second method have been given in the Introduction. It may be well to repeat here, however, the caution there given against trying to find in Shakspere an artist or a moral teacher who transcended even the ideals of art and morality of his time. 

For further study, the student will find useful the editions of this play by Messrs. Clark and Wright (Clarendon Press), and Professor Gummere (Longman's English Classics). The Variorum, edited by Dr Furness, contains the most valuable notes of various commentators, as well as extracts from the best criticism of the play. 

The general information regarding Shakspere and his works which everyone should possess can be obtained from Dowden's Primer of Shakspere. Additional works are Sidney Lee's Life of William Shakspere, Barrett Wendell's William Shakspere, Dowden's Shakspere: His Mind and Art, as well as the works of Mr Fleay. For the general period see A. W. Ward's History of English Dramatic Literature, Symonds's Shakspere'' s Predecessors, Boas's Shahspere and His Predecessors. For Shakspere's language and grammar, consult Schmidt's Shakespeare Lexicon, and E. A. Abbott's Shakespearian Grammar.
William Shakspere was born of peasant stock. His father, John Shakspere, was connected with a family of small land-holders in Warwickshire, which has been traced back to the fourteenth century. 

This John Shakspere was a successful trader in Stratford-on-Avon, where he dealt in various kinds of products, among them meat, a fact which has given rise to the legendary connection of the poet Shakspere with the butcher's trade. John Shakspere was for many years a man of substance, and enjoyed the respect of his neighbours; he served as burgess of the town, as constable, as chamberlain of the borough, and finally as high bailiff or mayor. In 1557 he married Mary Arden, the daughter of a rich farmer of Wilmcote. Of this marriage were born two girls, who died in infancy; then, in April 1564, a son,

 William, and following him several more children. Meanwhile, John Shakspere had fallen into financial difficulties. By 1578 he had been forced to mortgage most of his own and his wife's property, and in 1586 it was reported that he had no available goods on which his various creditors might levy. The early experiences of William Shakspere's life may, then, be said to connect themselves with the gradual falling away of his family from a place of ease and honour in the community to one of difficulty. Shakspere received his elementary education, including a fair amount of Latin, at the Stratford Grammar School. About the age of thirteen, however, he was withdrawn from school to assist his father in his declining business. 

Five years later he added to the complications of his life by marrying Anne Hathaway, probably the daughter of a farmer of Shottery who had recently died. There is the reason for suspecting that this marriage was forced on Shakspere by the bride's family as a measure of reparation. Anne was eight years older than her husband. She bore him three children, Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith, the last being- twins born in 1585. After this Shakspere had no more children, and it is conjectured that he left Stratford in the same year, possibly in consequence of difficulties with a gentleman of the neighbourhood, Sir Thomas Lucy, on whose estate he is traditionally said to have poached. At all events, within the next few years, Shakespeare abandoned Stratford for London.

the book details :
  • Author: William Shakespeare
  • editor: Robert Mortt Lovell
  • Publication date:  (1900) 
  • Company: Chicago, Scott, Foresman and company

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