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The Merchant of Venice

By: William Shakespeare
Narrated by: Denis Daly, Catherine Bilson, Alexandra Lee Smith, Gary MacFadden, Blaise Doran, Graham Scott, Roberta Jackson, Josh Innerst, Simon Paxton, Alan Weyman, Emma Faye, Marty Krz
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Publisher's Summary

Antonio, a wealthy and popular merchant, is in financial difficulty. He approaches a Jewish money lender, Shylock, who agrees to provide 3000 ducats, with a very curious bond – a pound of the merchant’s flesh, to be levied if Antonio fails to make a timely repayment. Feeling confident that his argosies will arrive in time to cover the debt, Antonio agrees to this bizarre transaction.

Meanwhile, a wealthy gentlewoman, Portia, must choose a suitor using a curious ritual mandated by her father’s will. Applicants must choose from three locked caskets, one of which contains a picture of Portia. He who chooses the casket with the picture will wed Portia immediately; the unsuccessful applicants will cease courting not only Portia, but all prospective partners. Portia’s preferred suitor is a young Venetian, Bassanio, who is a close friend of Antonio.

Antonio’s ships fail to arrive in time to satisfy his debt to Shylock and Antonio is hauled into court. In a male disguise, Portia appears in court to represent Antonio. Will her skillful representation free Antonio from Shylock’s demands?

Written between 1596 and 1598 and published in 1600, The Merchant of Venice most notably touches on the troubling subject of antisemitism. While critical debate rages about Shakespeare’s actual attitudes toward Jewish culture, it is difficult to deny that the eventual fate of Shylock is not in accord with today’s view of social justice.

Featuring the voices of Denis Daly, Catherina Bilson, Alexandra Lee Smith, Gary D. Macfadden, Blaise Doran, Graham Scott, Roberta Jackson, Josh Innerst, Simon Paxton, Alan Weyman, Emma Faye, and Marty Krz.

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