Read William Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice and then choose from one of the following topics to write about: 1. Who’s the Protagonist? Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is a difficult play in many ways, and one of those ways is the simple question: who is the protagonist of the play? Make your claim about which figure is this main, focal character, and tell us how you know. Be sure to support your argument with specific, well-analyzed examples from the play. 2. Shylock: Villain or Victim? In terms of the play’s plot, Shylock seems to be set up as a villain; there are, however, certain elements of the play itself that indicate that perhaps Shakespeare does not intend him to be understood only in the role of a villain. What do you think? Does Shakespeare intend us to read Shylock only as a bad guy, or is there more going on here? If you find yourself being sympathetic to Shylock, how much of your sympathy is due, do you think, to our different attitude nowadays toward religious difference? 3. Other Themes in The Merchant of Venice: It can be easy to focus entirely on the Shylock-Antonio conflict in The Merchant of Venice, but there are a number of other themes that come up, such as obedience to one’s parents, love and marriage, and friendship.