Lorenzo Zucca, King's College Lond, Dickson Poon School of Law, has published Global Crisis in Shakespeare: Legal, Social, Political and Economic Conflicts in the Merchant of Venice as TLI Think! Paper 15/2016. Here is the abstract.
Shakespeare’s Venice is the prototype of a global city: open to trade and business, it attracts a great flux of money and people. Its laws have to facilitate trade and provide incentives for business interactions. They also have to punish swiftly those who do not respect business contracts to maintain an impeccable image of a trade-based city state. Shakespeare uses this image of Venice to highlight a series of conflicts arising in the rest of Europe and in particular in England. Europe is moving from a class-based Aristocratic society to a trade-based bourgeois society, this creates a great number of uncertainties. Moreover, law is administered by a chaotic number of jurisdictions (in England, common law courts are working side by side with equity courts and ecclesiastical courts), which also increases legal uncertainty as to whom exercises justice and according to which procedures. Last but not least, Europe is plagued by religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants as well as between Christians and non-Christians. Shylock embodies the threat at the legal, social, economic, and religious level. The Merchant of Venice has never been as topical for our contemporary societies where law, religion, economics and politics are undergoing deep transformations and uncertainty reigns sovereign.Download the article from SSRN at the link.