Classification of The Merchant of Venice
Assignment Instructions This final project will require you to gather research material, analyze it, evaluate it, and bring it together to act as support for your writing. All options require strong critical engagement with both the focal primary text(s) and with the required peer reviewed sources. General Requirements for the Project: All submissions must: • use 3 peer reviewed sources in addition to whatever primary texts they discuss (and these sources must be used, actually cited, in the essay, not just listed in the works cited at the end) • be 1000-1500 words long • must be original to this class (no resubmissions from other courses are allowed) • be in MLA format and use MLA style citations (see Research and Documentation Online for MLA formatting models; most of you sources will probably need to use the “work from a database” model) • Classifying The Merchant of Venice: The Merchant of Venice is a troublesome play to classify in the usual Shakespearean categories of comedy, history, or tragedy. Though it ends with several marriages, and therefore matches the usual pattern of a comedy, it also contains some very dark and problematic elements, such as Shylock’s essentially forced conversion to Christianity. How do you think that we should view this play? Is it really a comedy? Is there any way to argue that it is a tragedy? Be sure to clearly define your understanding of tragedy and comedy; for some helpful sites, see Comedy and Tragedy by David L. Simpson of DePaul University, and the Comedy and Tragedy pages by Lisa Schnell of the University of Vermont.