Upon visiting London in 1592, the Duke of Wurttemberg observed, “most of the inhabitants are employed in buying and selling merchandise, and trading in every corner of the world.” Explore and compare the dramatists use of trade in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice with reference to a range of critical reading.
Both plays were written in the 1590's, the same period at which the duke visited london and made the statement that features in the title of this essay. the duke also so observed trade was an integral cog in the working machine that was london. But this was not only exclusive to london. If we also look back at venice during this time it was represented by shakespere as excotic, its reputation for justice and peace even for the minorities proceeded itself. It was a centre for cultural diversity, trade was not barred to anyone. The definition of trade still holds true for then and now - the commercial exchange (buying and selling on domestic or international markets) of goods and services; but the world of trade expands beyond just the physical act of exchanging goods but also metaphorically, which is used in both plays for example Faustus trading his soul for knowledge and power also Shylock trading his humility/mercy for revenge or his “bond”. Back in the 1500’s special 'Argosies' (merchant ships) were sent on long voyages, away to exotic lands. What could be brought back held the potential to earn enormous wealth, but with that came great risk. This is a problem we see one of the protagonists face in merchant of Venice. Obviously in the merchant of Venice the plot features heavily the aspect and theme of trade, whereas in Faustus its featured in a more subtle respective. Their takes on trade is contrasted but in some retrospects similar. Shakespeares the merchant of Venice being primarily viewed as a comedy at the time (even with the graphic and shocking anti semitism) now recognised as morally wrong...
Bibliography: Judith Cook, 1983 “if you prick us do we not bleed?”
The Merchant of venice Christopher Marlowe
Doctor Faustus William Shakespeare
Kermode F, 2001 Shakespeare 's language, penguin
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