Close to the time of Elizabeth’s expulsion of the Hanseatic merchants and the closing of the Steelyard (der Stahlhof) in the years 1597-98, two London plays engaged extensively with the business of trade, the merchant class, foreign merchants, and moneylending: early modern England’s first city comedy, William Haughton’s Englishmen for My Money, or A Woman Will Have Her Will (1598); and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (registered 22 July 1598). Whereas Haughton’s play uses foreignness, embodied in a foreign merchant, three half-English daughters, and three foreign suitors, as a means of promoting national consciousness and pride, Shakespeare indirectly uses the foreign not to unify but to reveal the divisions within England’s own economic values and culture.
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