Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
BY JOHN ANDERSON
As Shakespeare's plays are divided into comedies, tragedies and histories, one really has to ask: What is "The Merchant of Venice"? Shylock's ruination, his denial of the "pound of flesh," is among the more poignant - and disturbingly opaque - of the Bard's human catastrophes. Yet, it is surrounded by an almost slapstick sensibility concerning Portia's betrothal; antic, subordinate characters; and the almost obligatory mistaken-identity shtick that ends the play.