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Merchant of Venice, F2v

Editorial note

We chose to present our translation in a group chat format. Not only does this modernize the page, but it also makes it a more accessible format for a teenage and young adult audience. Additionally, the contents of the page consist of many side conversations and different characters, and we felt the perfect way to encapsulate the chaos of this would be in a group chat. Some of the speeches by the characters are long and consist of multiple sentences, which we felt was perfectly encapsulated by having one character send multiple smaller messages rather than one whole paragraph. Moreover, By using the “reply” feature, we were able to call attention to which parts of the conversation were between certain characters, however, we included the icons to represent people's reactions to the texts. 

One element of interest for us were the stage directions of the play. For example, three characters enter the scene midway through the play, so we nodded to that by having them being added to the group chat. We felt like this made the most sense. Additionally, there is a part on the page where Bassanio opens and reads the letter. We decided to make the group chat from his point of view and include invisible ink to emphasize that the contents of the letter were meant to be seen by him only. 

Another element we addressed was Graziano’s use of a slur. As editors, we debated whether or not we should have a character call out Graziano’s comment. After analyzing the characters and their relationships with the other characters, we concluded that the characters would not stand up for Jessica. We however did not feel that it would be right to completely ignore the use of the slur, so we decided to address it here.  

One reference that we had trouble modernizing was the allusion to the hero Jason when he wins the golden fleece, so we decided to keep it in the text. Since the purpose of this was to emphasize how happy they are, we wanted to keep that message constant. Another aspect we grappled with was what to name the group chat. Since this was an interesting combination of people who didn’t expect to be together, we just stuck with some emojis that fit the conversation's ambiance, as we initially envisioned the group chat being used to discuss wedding details.

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, F2v. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by Amanda Cinelli and Marley Borrow. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).

Outside Sources: Shakespeare, William. “The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice.” The Norton Shakespeare. Edited by Stephen Greenblatt, 3rd edition, vol 1, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2016, pp. 1339-1393.

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  1. put the money down now, as in placing a bet, (followed by Graziano's joke on a “flaccid penis”)
  2. a slur that refers to Jews in a derogatory way, specifically towards Jessica in this scene