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William Shakespeare's intriguing tragicomedy is explained in plain and direct prose! This volume also contains the complete tale from "Il Pecorone," Shakespeare's primary source for the play. In "The Merchant of Venice" Shakespeare plays with the concepts and conventions regarding protagonists and antagonists; and like "Julius Caesar," the title character is not actually the central figure of the play. In fact, Shakespeare’s merchant, Antonio, is more of a plot device, a bit part, rather than a major role in the work.