I will attempt to answer the question: Who is the protagonist in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The story for me was difficult to comprehend and follow, so I decided to watch a version of the play on YouTube. I will be the first to admit that the other literature selections from previous week have been easy to follow and comprehend. This week was a major challenge for me.

The play presented a variety of challenges for me. For me Portia could be considered the main character, as she is present in the story from beginning to end and much of the plot runs through her. If the protagonist would be the character that drives the plot I would say Portia would be my choice. However, I went to the definition of protagonist. According to Webster’s Dictionary a protagonist is: ” the principal character in literary work.” I began to think further and changed my choice to Antonio as the protagonist. I first looked at the title of the play and Antonio would be the “Merchant” the title speaks of. Secondly, Every character is connected to Antonio in some way or another, no other character has all of these connections. The third reason I chose Antonio is because he has a clear antagonist in Shylock.

Shylock and Antonio are clear enemies. Antonio does not seem to be happy with the money lending practices of Shylock. Shylock is quoted as saying “You call me a misbeliever, cutthroat dog,/And spit on my Jewish gabardine,…” (Shakespeare 1.3.135-136) This is a clear stance that Shylock understands the two are at odds. This also points out that Antonio may be anti-Semitic.

I would say that with my limited interaction with literature, a protagonist needs an antagonist. Antonio and Shylock fill these roles respectively. Also the title of the play seems to point to Antonio being the main focal point of the play. Regardless of the other characters who play a main and vital role throughout the play.

Thanks for reading through my forum post this week. Good luck to everyone with next week’s written assignment.


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice