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Shakespearean Controversies: Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice

Explore two controversial masterpieces and the cultural forces that helped to shape them: The Merchant of Venice , Shakespeare’s troubling pre-political-correctness work about the place of Jews—and women—in Renaissance Venice; and Hamlet , a work founded on the towering disparity between appearance and reality, in which intrigue lurks in every corner of the Danish court and no character is what he seems—including, possibly, the ghost. Is the ghost really Hamlet’s father? Or a force of evil bent on Hamlet’s destruction? Is Merchant anti-Semitic, as is widely alleged—an interpretation exploited by anti-Semites throughout the play’s history, including the Nazis, who used Merchant to buttress their anti-Jewish agenda? Or is it, as others argue, a plea for tolerance? Why must every woman in the play dress as a man to obtain her desires? And why does the play end with a dirty joke?

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You'll Walk Away with

  • Increased cultural literacy
  • An understanding of two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays

Ideal for

  • The curious and creative
  • Professionals who use critical thinking
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.