For a Shakespeare play, this wasn't half bad. Especially if you dislike Jews. It's one of the most anti-Semitic works I've ever read. And by read, I mean I read along while I watched the movie. But I didn't watch the movie with Al Pacino as the Jew, and that was a mistake I think. It's on my list of things to watch eventually.
So the play is all Shakespeare-like and difficult to read. The language is confusing and poetic. But the story is good - full of dramatic plot devices. When suitors show up to try and woo Portia, they have to choose one of three chests - one is gold, one is silver and the other is lead. Anyone who has seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows you have to pick the lead chest. Duh. Oh wait, Shakespeare was before Harrison Ford. Oh well. You get the point.
Here's a fun fact: I didn't know that the derogatory term "Shylock" came from this play. I knew what it meant and how it was an insult, but I didn't know that term existed because Shylock was the name of the Jew in this play who was greedy and tried to take a pound of flesh from someone who didn't pay back a loan on time. Way to go, Shakespeare, for encouraging and promoting stereotypes! Well, in his defense it was 400 years ago and there were no Jews in England because they had all been banished. As someone in my class yesterday pointed out, that would be like writing a story that included a stereotypical terrorist today.
I would never recommend reading a Shakespeare play. Don't get me wrong, I don't completely dislike Shakespeare. He's contributed valuable material to the world. I just don't want to read him. As Professor Gentry so rightly said: "Shakespeare was never meant to be read. It was meant to be acted out." Watch the movie - I bet Al Pacino makes a brilliant Shylock.