William Shakespeare is almost universally considered the English language's most famous and greatest writer. In fact, the only people who might dispute that are those who think he didn't write the surviving 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems still attributed to him. Even people who never get around to reading his works in class are instantly familiar with titles like King Lear, Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo & Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice is technically a comedy, but it's also a dramatic story about a Venice merchant and the Jewish lender Shylock. While the play is a little controversial for dealing with elements of traditional anti-Semitism, it's also heavily debated by some who think Shylock is portrayed sympathetically, especially in his famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech.