“The Merchant of Venice” is one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays to mount and perform and each director must feel his way carefully with interpretation. Is it comedy or drama? Is Shylock a villain or a persecuted victim demanding equal justice? What’s all this nonsense about rings anyway? While the loveliness of Venice is gracefully drawn with fine architecture and lovely foliage, the people are conceived as being otherwordly creatures with pointy ears; one character is depicted with webbed fingers, black eyeballs and white pupils. Dragons are shown as winged steeds and chess pieces move like something out of Harry Potter. By removing these beings out of the realm of humanity, the illustrator would lead us to believe that Shylock’s demand and Antonio’s plight are therefore universal, stuck in no one time or place. Or, this may be meant as an emphasis to the magic of Venice, La Serenissima, a city like no other, one that has existed throughout the centuries, navigated by boats and floating improbably upon the waves. Whatever the reason, Faye Young has crafted a work of beauty, drama, passion and revenge. Color panels in the front of the book show the characters, giving listings helpful to the reader in sorting out who’s who.
eBook The Merchant of Venice