Like the other programs in the series "A Taste of Shakespeare", the purpose of this video is to help modern audiences, especially students, identify with the universal themes in Shakespeare's plot line.
In early productions of this play, Shylock, the Jew, was portrayed as either a buffoon or a bloodthirsty beast. In more recent productions he has been shown in a more sympathetic light, but still as a violent and dangerous man. In this production, we present a more balanced view. Shylock has been very badly treated by certain Christians and he yearns for revenge. He goes too far when he seeks the life of his main persecutor, but he is essentially an intelligent, dignified man who can no longer bear to be humiliated.
In this video, the actor who plays Shylock provides the narrative links between key scenes and the commentary on other characters. The action is shown from Shylock's point of view: the view of a man who is "foreign" to the society in which he lives, and who is made to suffer because he is "different."
Other titles in the series are:
Hamlet - A video guide to Shakespeare's most famous play.
A Midsummer Night's Dream - A video guide to the loveliest of Shakespeare's romantic comedies.
Romeo and Juliet - A video guide to this cautionary tale of teenage love.
King Lear - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies.
Macbeth - A video guide to Shakespeare's "tragedy of blood".
Othello - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, dealing with revenge and pride.
Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1995
Copyright Date: 1995
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-161-4
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-638-0
"The interpretation of Shylock as neither hero nor villain, but both victim and predator himself, nicely straddles the current attempts either to turn Shakespeare's plays into an anti-semitic diatribe or a subtextual indictment of Christian hypocrisy."
Kenneth S. Rothwell, University of Vermont