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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWelcome to week five of Shakespeare and his world. Money makes the world go round. And that was certainly true in Shakespeare's time. This week, having looked last time at the clash of two nations, England and France in Henry V, England and Spain in the reality of Shakespeare's time, we're going to look at trade between nations. I want to suggest that Shakespeare's world was the time when globalisation, international trade really took off for the first time. There's all sorts of respects in which our modern concerns about the economy were Shakespeare's concerns.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsHis great play about money is The Merchant of Venice. Rather as, in another week, we saw that Windsor was a kind of double for Shakespeare's Stratford upon Avon, the idea we're going to explore this week is that Venice, in The Merchant of Venice, is a kind of double for Shakespeare's London. We're going to make comparisons between these two great trading cities, both of them set on water. And at the centre of Merchant of Venice, we're going to meet the character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. We're also going to find out about Shakespeare's own business dealings. We'll discover that he was a pretty shrewd businessman, himself.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsSo join me in a reading of The Merchant of Venice, and an exploration of documents that reveal Shakespeare and the world of credit, Shakespeare dealing with the first Elizabethan credit crunch. There are all sorts of fascinating ways in which Shakespeare's Venice is a world that he was familiar with even though he never went to Venice. And The Merchant of Venice is a play that speaks to our time, our financial crisis, as well as his. Although, what we must look at very closely towards the end of this week's sessions is the question of the representation of Shylock the Jew. That takes us into some very complicated areas and a very difficult history.

Welcome to Week 5

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This video is from the free online course:

Shakespeare and his World

The University of Warwick

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