Sunday, October 11, 2009

Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is a great play, and we were happy to do an episode about it, at a fan's request. Some good outtakes at the end of this one, too.

There's some interesting news about the attribution of Edward III in the Shakespeare canon, but it broke just as we finished the episode. We'll cover it next time.

We'd be really pleased if a listener would request the subject of the next episode as well. In fact, any sort of comment really brightens our day.

The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library)
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (Starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons)


  1. Hey guys, your plaintive appeal for a comment really hit the emotional softspots. I'm really enjoying the show. It's spurred me on to work my way through all the plays for the first time. I was wondering if you might do a show on notable shakespearean characters. Falstaff springs to mind since he appears in several plays and I have read that he was popular in the day (someone, somewhere, sometime said he was the only reason for there being a Henry IV, part 2). However, other notable characters would probably work just as well.

    Also, i don't know if you guys are aware of the bardtube ( but it really is an amazing resource (provided it doesn't fall victim to a copyright challenge). I think all your listeners should be made aware of it.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  2. I like the idea of "notable characters", but the only one I know of that really appears in more than one play is Falstaff.

    bardtube looks very good, I'm definitely going to mention it on the dang ol' podcast.

  3. Well several of the historical characters appear in more than one play (e.g. Henry V appears in three) but I would agree that they are not interesting in that they are not truly Shakespearean creations. Falstaff, although supposedly based on a real character, must be largely fictional.

    In any case, you need not cover one character per episode. You could, for example, do an episode on 'notable villains' or some other group of characters.

  4. Also, I know it's been suggested and shot down before, but I'd really like an episode on the Branagh movie adaptations. I've only seen three (have not seen Love's Labours Lost) but I've really liked all of them. Perhaps, that could mutate into an episode on how well Shakespeare translates to the big screen and what makes for a good movie adaptation.

  5. Well, let's make it clear, we're not committed to not doing a thing about branagh. That's still a thing we can do.

    Second, we've thought already about doing Shakespeare villains, we may do that. I'll have to talk to Jeff about it.

  6. Evening all,

    Loving the podcast, first of all. Second, monkey is a common British slang (cockney) term for £500, so I read that the ring bought for a monkey in merchant was actually bought for 500 ducets. Just a different interpretation on the line. Personally I am looking forward to Merry Wives of Windsor. Highly Under-rated in my opinion. I saw Leslie Phillips as Falstaff about twelve years ago at the RST, hilarious.

  7. I found a clip that might interest you guys, but for some reason it won't let me paste the link in your comments. It's on Youtube - seach "King Lear: The Office Version"

  8. I just put this episode on to enjoy with my morning coffee! I am *loving* you guys! The podcasts are witty, funny, entertaining, and informative. Thanks!

  9. Oh, also: I would love if you guys would do a show on The Merry Wives of Windsor. :) And maybe at some point, touch on some of the more common phrases and sayings that originated or were made popular by Shakespeare? I find it interesting to learn about phrases that can be heard in daily conversation that date back to Shakespeare.

  10. Err, 3rd time is the charm, hopefully....

    Slings and Arrows, all 3 seasons, are available on Netflix. I've just added them to my queue.

  11. Comments like this are what keep us going. Thanks Sarah! We'd love to do Merry Wives, and we're planning on doing Henry IV Part 1 as our next play, since that's a prerequisite to Falstaff's last play.

    An episode about common phrases is becoming increasingly short, I find that Shakespearean phrases that were common are increasingly rare. It's definitely something to do though.

  12. An episode about the fools in various Shakespeare plays would be really cool. By the way, thanks for the Titus episode I requested! :D I absolutely love your podcast - you guys are great!

  13. I second the idea about the fools episode!

  14. Also, commenting on your assessment of the casket story, I think a key point of it is that Portia's suitors have to resist the temptation to take silver and gold and choose the less valuble lead. Also, Portia gives Bassanio a hint by the song, which has many words rhyming with 'lead:'

    Tell me where is fancy bred,
    Or in the heart, or in the head?
    How begot, how nurished?

    My teacher mentioned this point. Harold Goddard also wrote an interesting chapter on Merchant in 'The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol. 1' that explains how the caskets represent the whole play.