The Introduction to this edition of The Merchant of Venice addresses one of the most important issues raised by the play, the question of Shakespeare's attitude toward Semitism. There follows a study of the play's sources, background, and date, including a discussion of Freud's essay on "The Three Caskets." The critical interpretation of the play focuses on its contradictions and inconsistencies, especially as they relate to the overarching theme of bonds and bondage. The text, based on a fresh examination of the early editions, is presented in modernized spelling and punctuation, and helpful commentary includes new interpretations of particular passages and characters. Unfailingly lucid and helpful, this is an ideal edition for students at all levels as well as for the general reader.