Jewish Values: Merchant of Venice, The

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70 p.
Artist Gareth Hinds has abridged Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and transformed it into a graphic novel. He eases readers into the sophisticated language by starting with simplified prose and gradually becoming more faithful to the original verse as the story progresses. Locations are subtly differentiated by palette, with blue for Venice and gray for Belmont. The characters, drawn from live models, are quite expressive and realistic. The scenes are somewhat static, but this is more due to the conversational nature of the play than to any fault of the artist. The characters appear in modern dress, which renders Antonio’s blatant anti-Semitism and Shylock’s thirst for a pound of flesh particularly disturbing. While The Merchant of Venice is not, per se, a Jewish story, it can inspire interesting discussion of historical attitudes toward Jews. This pared-down, graphical version will appeal to modern readers while exposing them to the richness of Shakespeare’s themes and language.
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