The Merchant of Venice: Shylock and Covenantal Interplay

  • Mary Jo Kietzman


Reformation preoccupation with the Hebrew Bible and covenant theology encouraged a connection to biblical Jews and patriarchal religion that opens a more sympathetic early modern reading of Shylock. Shylock’s “merry bond,” Kietzman argues, is a covenantal commitment to respond beyond the letter of law to the other, which he does when he breaks his custom to dine with the Christians. Shylock’s identification with Jacob the wrestler enables his interfaith reach, but the Christians claim identity with Jacob the thief; and when the Christians steal Shylock’s daughter, he breaks his covenant and reduces the bond to a contract in order to claim the pound of flesh penalty.


Shylock Christian Bassanio Akedah Jew Shylock 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Jo Kietzman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Michigan–FlintFlintUSA

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