Between the two—melodrama and tragedy—both perhaps sensational in episode, but only the second justifying its episodes by perfectly motivated character, lies the story play. In this the light and the serious, the comic and the tragic, mingle, though the ending is cheerful. “The Merchant of Venice,” regarded as Shakespeare regarded it as the story of Portia and Bassanio, is clearly not a tragedy but a story play. If, however, we sympathize with Shylock as modern actors, especially by their rearrangement of the scenes, often make us, is it not a tragedy? There lies the important distinction. There is no essential difference between the material of comedy and tragedy. All depends on the point of view of the dramatist, which, by clever emphasis, he tries to make the point of view of his audience. The trial scene of Shylock perfectly illustrates the idea: to the friends of Bassanio, as to most of the Elizabethan audience, this Jew-baiting was highly delightful; to Shylock it was torture and heartbreak. The dramatist who presents such material so as to emphasize in it what would appeal to the friends of Bassanio, writes comedy. He who presents it to an audience likely to feel as Shylock felt, writes tragedy.

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