Merchant of Venice

Guffaws of a Shakespearean Nature

As a playwright, William Shakespeare has few, if indeed any, colleagues of equal renown. He skillfully created works of incredible diversity; some tragic, others historical, and yet others comedic. Of this last genre, Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice is an example. Through an excerpt defining comic literature by Northrop Frye, we can carefully examine this play and more fully discern why it is considered a comedy. According to Frye, New Comedy presents a romantic intrigue between a man and a woman, hindered by an opposition controlling their present society. A twist in the plot resolves the conflict, allowing the couple to live merrily in an idyllic society.

Love has been said to make the world go around, and upon studying the contents of The Merchant of Venice, the interest in the matters of love is certainly found to be pervasive. Many references to romantic intrigues are made, establishing the play as one of New Comedy. One of the chief couples in The Merchant of Venice is that of Bassanio and Portia. The intrigue to romance is first presented through Bassanio regarding Portia. He confides to Antonio, "In Belmont is a lady.../And she is fair, and fairer than that word,/Of wondrous virtues....Her name is...

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