When editing this passage in the Merchant of Venice, we made the decision to produce it in a modern format for a Gen Z audience. Shakespeare is so important as a figure, yet it is becoming more difficult for the younger generations to resonate with him, due in part to his language used being difficult to understand by a modern audience. To ensure that students understand the deeper meanings within Shakespeare, while in turn inciting a passion for his work, many of the Bard's plays have been recreated with a young modern audience in mind. Some works such as the films 10 Things I hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew) and West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet) introduce Shakespeare's stories in an easy to understand medium. This creates a foundation of passion for Shakespeare, that will hopefully lead people down a path to discovering and better understanding his original works.
In the passage, Salanio and Salarino are discussing the fate of Antonio, who is rumored to have been lost at sea. They ask Shylock what he has heard through the merchants, but Shylock is too upset over his daughter, Jessica, running away. We formatted this conversation as a text message, and modernized the language for a young audience. Given that Salanio and Salarino are characterized as being an integral part of the play's the comedic relief, their conversation is sprinkled with Gen Z slang to amplify the comedic element. Shylock's lines are modernized as well, but in a much more formal extent, both in turn to acknowledge his emotions in this scene while also magnifying Salanio and Salarino's idiocy.
Salanio- 1 whats the tea with the rialto
Salarino- apparently antonio shipwrecked
Salarino- it like is def true bc i heard it from mary 2 who heard it from john who heard it from rachel who heard it from dylan who is on his private story so you know its gotta be true
Salanio- thats foul, but fr fr sounds legit
Salarino- girl bye i dont wanna talk about this anymore
Salarino- its tragic
Salanio- antonio rn: ☠️
Salarino- lol at least he isnt a broke bitch3 anymore
Salanio- OMG wait
Salanio- wouldnt it be funny if we added shylock
Salarino- LMFAOOOOOOO do it
*Shylock added to the chat*
Salanio- heyyyyyyy shylock
Salanio- what are you merchants up to
Shylock- Hello boys, There is nothing new to report from my place of work. However, I unfortunately have been abandoned by my dear daughter, Jessica. Sincerely, Shylock4
Solario- oh yeah lol I saw that coming
Salanio- what a girl boss. She slayed tbh I wouldn't wanna live with you either.
Shylock- Excuse me? Sincerely, Shylock
Salanio- jessica=devil emoji
Shylock- I cannot believe it…. My own daughter left me. Best, Shylock.
Salanio- jessica emancipation era
Shylock- She is my own daughter. How could she do this to me? From, Shylock.
Salarino- girl are you fr. ur a hailey and she’s a selena.5
Salarino- where tf is Antonio
Salarino- like whats his deal
Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library, copy G.176.16. The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. First Quarto. London: 1600.
Citing this page: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice, E2r. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by [your names]. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16). http://cacodemonshakespeare.com/comedies/merchant/e2r.
- Salanio and Salarino's texts are all in lowercase, referencing the Gen Z trend of turning automatic caps off in text messages for the "aesthetic"
- The original text referenced the rumor as coming from a reputable source, so we added this section to add irony to the reliability of the rumor
- modernized spin on the line "I would it might prove the end of his losses"
- In our edits, Shylock's texts are more formal in juxtaposition to Salanio and Salarino's. This is a reference to how in today's age, older generations have a tendency to text more formal, while younger generations are more casual. While the three characters aren't explicitly said to be divided by generations, Shylock is still characterized as being outcast due to the antisemitism of the time. By him writing more formal, it allows Salanio and Salarino to look down upon him in a similar way that younger generations look down upon older, for they feel that they are more "in" or "trendy".
- This is a reference to drama between Selena Gomez and Hailey and Justin Beiber. Selena and Justin dated for many years on and off, before he ultimatley married Hailey. Recently, Hailey has been exibiting some jealous behavior towards Selena, dispite her having no involvment with their marriage whats so ever. We chose this reference because it is very current, and also represents the feelings between Shylock and Jessica. Jessica wants to live her own life unbothered from the possesive and jealous nature of Shylock, similiarly to the dynamic between Selena and Hailey.