The Merchant of Venice

The Shakespeare Project

Having squandered his fortune, Bassanio decides it’s time to marry rich. He has his sight set on Portia, but in order to woo her he needs a lot of money – which he borrows from his older friend, Antonio. In turn, Antonio borrows the money from Shylock, agreeing to a strange contract, but certain he will able to pay when his ships return to Venice. It only gets more complicated from here.

I was always fascinated by this play – from a modern perspective, it raises many questions while offering few answers. Is Basannio a ”good guy”, with his determination to climb up the social ladder while using his friend as collateral? Is Antonio, with his incessant antisemitism, worth the high regard of others? Is Skylock’s cruelty justified by the unfair hand his been dealt? Portia knows she’s loved for her money and appreciated for her usefulness, but it’s clear she can expect no loyalty – so where does that leave her?

The illustrations are oil pastels and markers on cardboard, and yes, yes, it took several trials and tribulations to get here. More on that on the blog.