A Study of the Contract Spirit in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

Shanxiu Zhu, Dan Cui


As a famous playwright and one of the most remarkable literary figures in Britain and the world, Shakespeare is the master of humanist literature in the European Renaissance. The Merchant of Venice is one of his the most representative of works. In this play, a conflict arose from different laws: that is Roman law and Christian law. Shakespeare depicts two laws together perfectly. The spirit of contract and Shakespeare’s humanist ideas are profoundly reflected throughout the play. Shakespeare achieved his desired humanist sentiment while complying with the social and legal system of Venice. The spirit of contract plays quite an important role in social relations. This paper will explore the spirit of contract from three aspects in The Merchant of Venice: family relationships, individual relationships, and societal and individual relationships. It aims to analyze the essence of Shakespeare’s contract spirit, understand the Western countries in the dialectical way and recognize the spiritual essence of Western people.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v8n1p61


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