The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare begins with the impulsive and carefree nobleman Bassanio. He is in love with Portia, the rich heiress from Belmont. Portia is being courted by many great and wealthy men from around the world. Without sufficient funds to court Portia, Bassanio turns to his good friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant, to supply him with enough money to support his quest. But because Antonio has invested all his money in ships that are at sea, to help his friend Antonio is forced to borrow 3,000 ducats from the greedy Jewish moneylender Shylock. He agrees to sacrifice a pound of flesh if he forfeits the loan.
The comic results and complications are a lesson in love, friendship, prejudice, and true justice.
Through William Shakespeare’s complicated comedy, Merchant of Venice, students will learn:
Historical Background: late 1500s anti-Semitism, usury and money lending in Renaissance Europe.
Author Biography: Learn about William Shakespeare.
Before-You-Read Activities: Research usury/lending, write a summary of justice/mercy, define anti-Semitism, author biography, Jewish life in 1500-1600s Europe.
Vocabulary words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: Point of view, characterization study, conflict, poetic justice, heroes and villains, protagonists, antagonists, comedic plays, theme.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Hypocrisy, Biblical teaching on money, discrimination, principles of justice, mercy, and honor, mercy from God, Christianity, friendship.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Racism study and research paper, final essays including characterization studies, compare and contrast, life lessons, and dramatic acting of one scene.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more plays by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar to, Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Movie suggestions included.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!
A great help in going deeper into the play. Thought provoking questions, and I like the biblical perspective that is encouraged to be investigated as well. Good quality resource.