The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts

As you continue to read The Merchant of Venice, and as we discuss the portrayal of Shylock, notice the times that Shakespeare compares him to animals, particularly dogs (mutt/cur) and wolves. You will find these comparisons next week as you read Act 1, scene 4.

Go to the following link to view a 1607 informational book by Edward Topsell. In "The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts," Topsell describes the characteristics of animals in a way that captures the knowledge and assumptions that Shakespeare and his audiences would have about animals at the time Merchant was written. Scroll down to the links under "view available documents" and browse through what Topsell writes about "Dogges", "Lambe", and "Wolfe".

What effect does it have on the audience's perception of Shylock when he is compared in this way to these animals?

Be prepared to discuss this question in a quiz later in the week.

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM