William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

1424 Words Dec 11th, 2016 6 Pages
With every great story line comes a theme. William Shakespeare created an art of intertwining often unrecognizable themes within his plays. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, one hidden theme is the idea of homosexuality. This theme might not have even been noticed until modern Shakespeare fans discovered them. According to Alan Bray’s book, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, “the modern image of ‘the homosexual’ cannot be applied to the early modern period, when homosexual behavior was viewed in terms of the sexual act and not an individual 's broader identity.” (Columbia University Press). This difference between homosexuality as a “sexual act” and an “identity” proves why, during Renaissance England, this theme in Shakespeare’s play was almost invisible. The actual merchant of Venice, Antonio, displays this homosexual identity that might only be recognizable to the modern day reader. Through a close reading of a speech given by Antonio, one can begin to understand the significance of Shakespeare’s word choice and how it plays into this idea of homosexuality.

The main plotline of The Merchant of Venice sets up this underlying theme of homosexuality. Bassanio, a friend of Antonio’s, presents Antonio with a proposition. Bassanio asks that he enter into a contract with a rich man, Shylock, so that Bassanio may pursue his one true love. Antonio agrees to enter into a contract with Shylock. The terms of the contract are that Shylock will lend Antonio and…

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