It’s the first Monday of the month so that means it’s Calendar Girls time! This blog event was created by Flavia at Flavia The Bibliophile and Melanie at MN Bernard Books. On the first Monday of each month you discuss a book that you have either read or are currently reading that fits the topic for the month. For June, the topic is favourite Shakespeare Play!! As soon as I saw this topic I just smiled. Because, for me, the answer was oh so easy!
This one is near and dear to my heart for a few different reasons. I remember being in grade 9 (which feels like FOREVER ago) and having my teacher tell me that this play was required reading. I remember rolling my eyes and feeling annoyed. I had never heard of this one and wished we had the chance to read a more popular one. But as we started reading and discussing it I started to really enjoy it. I also enjoyed being able to discuss this book with the whole class. Most people didn’t care about it and said nothing. I think it was just me and the teacher talking at that point!
But then, when we finished reading, we got a surprise. Tickets to see the play performed at the Avon Theatre in Stratford! I had always wanted to see something there and I don’t think I could have been more excited! I’ve always loved Shakespeare and plays so this was a dream come true. I mean look at the inside of this place!
Now, when we were reading this book I enjoyed it – but seeing it on stage I fell in love completely! There’s a time where the two women dress as men to fix a situation and the whole thing was just hilarious. Even the people who didn’t seem to understand it while reading it in class were laughing! That’s the thing about Shakespeare. With the language being so different it makes it hard for some people to understand it. But when spoken on a stage with the setting and actions it becomes a little easier to comprehend. I didn’t expect there to be so much humour throughout but it was really funny and wonderful.
Here’s the synopsis if you’re interested. It will contain spoilers so, you’ve been warned!
Bassanio needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He approaches his friend Antonio (a merchant) but he is short of money because all his wealth is invested in his fleet, which is currently at sea. He goes to a Jewish money lender, Shylock, who hates Antonio because of Antonio’s anti-semitic behaviour towards him.
Shylock nevertheless agrees to make the short-term loan, but, in a moment of dark humour, he makes a condition – the loan must be repaid in three months or Shylock will exact a pound of flesh from Antonio. Antonio agrees, confident that his ships will return in time.
Because of the terms of Portia’s father’s will, all suitors must choose from among three caskets, one of which contains a portrait of her. If he chooses that he may marry Portia, but if doesn’t he must vow never to marry or court another woman. The Princes of Morocco and Arragon fail the test and are rejected. As Bassanio prepares to travel to Belmont for the test, his friend Lorenzo elopes with Shylock’s daughter, Jessica. Bassanio chooses the lead casket, which contains her picture, and Portia happily agrees to marry him immediately.
Meanwhile, two of Antonio’s ships have been wrecked and Antonio’s creditors are pressurising him for repayment. Word comes to Bassanio about Antonio’s predicament, and he hurries back to Venice, leaving Portia behind. Portia follows him, accompanied by her maid, Nerissa. They are disguised as a male lawyer and his clerk. When Bassanio arrives the date for the repayment to Shylock has passed and Shylock is demanding his pound of flesh. Even when Bassanio offers much more than the amount in repayment, Shylock, now infuriated by the loss of his daughter, is intent on seeking revenge on the Christians. The Duke refuses to intervene.
Portia arrives in her disguise to defend Antonio. Given the authority of judgment by the Duke, Portia decides that Shylock can have the pound of flesh as long as he doesn’t draw blood, as it is against the law to shed a Christian’s blood. Since it is obvious that to draw a pound of flesh would kill Antonio, Shylock is denied his suit. Moreover, for conspiring to murder a Venetian citizen, Portia orders that he should forfeit all his wealth. Half is to go to Venice, and half to Antonio.
Antonio gives his half back to Shylock on the condition that Shylock bequeath it to his disinherited daughter, Jessica. Shylock must also convert to Christianity. A broken Shylock accepts. News arrives that Antonio’s remaining ships have returned safely. With the exception of Shylock, all celebrate a happy ending
The story sounds confusing when reading the synopsis but it’s really funny!
If you’re interested in participating please visit Melanie or Flavia’s pages for more information! The topic for July is BEST FAIRYTALE RETELLING! I honestly don’t know which one I’m going to pick – there are so many incredible options! Good thing I have a whole month to choose 🙂
Until next time, happy reading!