The Merchant Of Venice : A Tragicomedy Of Philautia Essay
1476 Words Apr 29th, 2015 null Page
When the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s work was published in 1623, all of the included plays were placed into one of three different categories: Comedy, Tragedy, or History. (Shakespeare Online) The Merchant of Venice was classified as a comedy in the First Folio, but has often been regarded as a tragicomedy due to the many tragic elements found within the play. According to the Literary Devices website, a comedy and tragedy can exist simultaneously and allow for a setting where both gravity and levity can correspond, and The Merchant of Venice is a prime example of this juxtaposition.
The combination of comedic and tragic tropes are best displayed when analyzed through the form of love known as philautia. This type of love is used to refer to the love that a person has for themselves. In modern times philautia is often associated with self-respect, however, the Greeks also used the term to describe selfishness and pride. (The Rabelais Encyclopedia) Comparing how peer respect influences the degree to which Bassanio, Portia, and Shylock can use their philautia to accomplish their personal goals demonstrates the fusion of these elements and sets the Merchant of Venice up as a tragicomedy.
Bassanio displays a positive form of philautia by deciding to compete in the casket game even though he knows ‘the four winds blow in from every coast / Renownéd suitors’ (I.ii.175-176) that will also be competing to win Portia 's…