Study Guide

The Merchant of Venice Allusions

By William Shakespeare

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Biblical References

Jesus casts devils into a herd of swine (1.3)
Jacob and Laban's sheep: Genesis 25-35 (1.3)
Jacob's staff (2.5)
Hagar's outcast son, Ishmael (2.5)
"sin of the father...": Ezekiel 18:20 (3.5)
Christian husbands sanctify their non-Christian wives: Corinthians 7:14 (3.5)
Barabbas: Mark 15:6-15 (4.1)
"To take my living is to take my life": Ecclesiastes 34:23 (4.1)
The Apocrypha: Daniel (4.1)

Literature, Philosophy, and Mythology

Choice of the three caskets lottery, folktales (1.2)
Pound of flesh story, folktales (1.3)
Pythagoras' philosophy of the soul (4.1)
Christopher Marlowe: Barabas in The Jew of Malta (4.1)
William Shakespeare: Troilus and Cressida, Troilus and Cressida (5.1)
William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Thisby (5.1)
Dido and Aeneas (5.1)
Orpheus, Ovid, Metamorphoses (5.1)
Jason (of the quest for the Golden Fleece) (1.1; 3.2)
The Cumaean Sibyl (1.2)
Diana (1.1; 5.1)
Hercules (Alcides) and his servant Lichas (2.1; 3.2)
The Three Sisters/the Fates (2.3)
Venus (2.6)
Cupid (2.6; 2.9)
Mars (3.2)
King Midas (3.2)
Dardanian wives (of Troy) (3.2)
Scylla and Charybdis (3.5)
Medea (5.1)
Erebus (5.1)
Endymion (5.1)

Historical Figures

Portia, wife of the ancient Roman Brutus (1.1)
Suleiman II the Magnificent (2.1)

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