The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, but it remains deeply controversial. The text may seem anti-Semitic; yet repeatedly, in performance, it has revealed a contrasting nature. Shylock, though vanquished in the law-court, often triumphs in the theatre. In his intensity he can dominate the play, challenging abrasively its romantic and lyrical affirmations. What results is a bitter-sweet drama. Though The Merchant of Venice offers some of the traditional pleasures of romantic comedy, it also exposes the operations of prejudice. Thus Shakespeare remains our contemporary.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's collection of short stories starts off with her most well-known story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." This story, like many others, displays the true treatment of women during the early 1900s. Such topics as the feminization of disease, gender roles, and the economic enslavement some women experienced in relationships to men.