The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
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The Merchant of Venice Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.

The Pound of Flesh

As we know, Bassanio needs some cash so he can woo Portia in style. We're talking a team of servants, a new set of fancy threads, and plenty of bling to impress the rich heiress. The problem is, B...

Rings

You probably noticed all the finger bling circulating around in this play. Rings don't just mean one thing in The Merchant of Venice – they're significant for all sorts of reasons. Let's break...

The Turquoise Ring

Apparently, when Jessica elopes with Lorenzo, she not only helps herself to a ton of Shylock's gold, but she also steals a turquoise ring, which turns out to be one of Shylock's most prized possess...

Portia's Ring

When Bassanio chooses the correct casket and wins Portia as his wife, Portia slips a ring on his finger and makes a big speech about how she and everything she owns are now his property:Myself and...

The Lottery

Poor Portia. Even though her father is dead, the guy still manages to orchestrate her marriage from the grave. In his will, Portia's father stipulated that her husband would be determined accordin...

Who Gets to Choose

What does Portia think about all of this? Well, she's not happy: [...] O me, the word 'choose!' I mayneither choose whom I would nor refuse whom Idislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbe...

Risky Business

We also notice how the lottery turns marriage into a competitive game or business venture that entails a lot of risk. (Remember, if a suitor chooses the incorrect casket, he can never marry anothe...

Gold, Silver, and Lead Caskets

Psst. If you haven't already read about the symbolism of the lottery, do that before your read this.The three caskets (gold, silver, and lead) are major symbols in the play. The big tipoff is the...

The Story of Jacob and Laban

There are plenty of biblical allusions in the play, but one story in particular seems to stand out. That's the story of Jacob and Laban (from Genesis 25-35), part of which Shylock tells as a kind o...

Music

Music is a very big deal for the Christians in the play.

The Transforming Power of Music

In Belmont, when Jessica and Lorenzo are hanging out at Portia's house, musicians play and Jessica says that "sweet music" always makes her sad. Lorenzo then makes a big speech about how music isn...

Music during the Lottery

During the lottery, Portia orders her band to play music while Bassanio determines which casket he's going to choose. The song that's performed offers a subtle hint about which casket is the right...
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