What parents need to know

Parents need to know that most teens will have trouble at first following Shakespeare's untouched and dense prose. Given that the anti-Semitism of the time is given explicit treatment with Christian characters spitting on, cursing, threatening, and "damning" Jewish citizens forced to live in a ghetto, parents should be aware that sensitive viewers of any age may be upset and that this plus other mature themes render it unsuitable for younger viewers. A character's life is threatened, a young woman runs away with a man against her father's wishes, a man's anger becomes madness, a young woman refers to being orphaned, characters manipulate and lie to one another, and otherwise "good" people show grave intolerance to others based upon their religion or nationality. There is social drinking. Bare-breasted prostitutes beckon to passing men, and one scene has two characters doing business in a brothel.
  • Families can talk about the relationships between Antonio and Bassanio, Portia and her departed father, as well as the one between Shylock and Jessica. How are father-child type relationships at the heart of many of the dynamics of this play? The relationship between Antonio and Shylock becomes representative of other issues -- what are these, and why can they not be resolved more easily?
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