View Poll Results: Is the Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

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    6 75.00%
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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #451
    stanley2
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    I think that Jessica is then another puzzle in this play. In the scene right before the court scene we find: "Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Lancelot and I are out. He tells me flatly there's no mercy for me in heaven, because I am a Jew's daughter: and he says you are no good member of the commonwealth, for, in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of pork"(MV3.5.26-30).

  2. #452
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Very ironic. But what did Lorenzo say before she gave that answer?
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  3. #453
    stanley2
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    "I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Lancelot, if you thus get my wife into corners!" I remember my knee-jerk reaction to Graham Midgley's 1960 essay: "Boy is this guy out in left field. If Antonio desired sex with anyone it was with Shylock's wife." I'm not smart enough to come up with anything. My reaction came about by reading Shakespeare. For his 1986 essay, Bloom wrote: "Bardolatry is not always an innocent disease, and produces odd judgments, as when J. Middleton Murry insisted: 'THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is not a problem play; it is a fairy story.' For us, contemporary Jews and Gentiles alike, it had better be a problem play, and not a fairy story. Shylock, Murry admitted, was not 'coherent,' because a Shakespearean character had no need to be coherent. Yet Shylock is is anything but incoherent. His palpable mimetic force enhances his rapacity and viciousness, and works to make an ancient bogeyman come dreadfully alive." We have seen that Shylock is linked throughout to Shakespearean characters before and after MV. The play is both a problem play and in part a fairy story.

  4. #454
    stanley2
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    In Bevington's introduction, along with his notes regarding "paradox' and "ironies" we have "......spiritual as well as financial. Unless one recognizes these aspects of Bassanio's quest, as well as the clear fairy-tale quality with which Shakespeare deliberately invests this part of the plot, one cannot properly assess Bassanio's role in this romantic comedy." Of Shylock he wrote: "He bears an 'ancient grudge' against Antonio simply because Antonio is 'a Christian.'" The first lines of R&J read: "Two households both alike in dignity, / In fair Verona where we lay our scene / From ancient grudge, break to new mutiny." The fact that the first word is "Two" and that the phrase "ancient grudge" is found in these two instances only in all of Shakespeare is another indication that the author presents two comic villains in MV. Shylock's "How like a fawning publican "(1.3) speech is spoken to the audience. The Clown Lancelet's first speech is also spoken to the audience: "Certainly, my conscience will serve me to run from".....(2.2). Antonio begins the play speaking to Solanio and Salerio, two Salads. The play is full of duos.

  5. #455
    stanley2
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    Let's return to Hazlitt's comments from 1817: "he becomes a half-favorite with the philosophical part of the audience who are disposed to think that Jewish revenge is at least as good as Christian injuries. Shylock is a 'good hater;' a man no less sinned against than sinning." The phrase "half-favorite" might inspire one to search for the other half and come up with Antonio. One may then reasonably argue that the play rejects Judaism or Christianity. Or one might then add to Lokasona's early "quandry" comment here. If one then considers Bassanio's part in the court scene and the link to the death of Marlowe, one might argue that the author is suggesting that religion might be helpful to anyone who who finds himself in such a situation. That is, all the characters survive the court scene in part because they are religious.

  6. #456
    stanley2
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    Bevington's comments(#454) came about two years after Bloom's(#453). He was clearly responding to the man from Yale. We have seen that a single speech in the play can be cited to support opposing opinions. For example, Shylock's "I hate him for he is a Christian, But more......"(MV1.3)) echoes Romeo's "Here's much to do with hate, but more with love"(ROM1.1.170).

  7. #457
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I think the religious hate in the play is strong with Antonio as well as with Shylock. The strange thing is, the administration of Venice being Christian, that such a court case is at all possible. But there is also the comercial aspect of it. Shylock hates Antonio, as he himself states, because he lends money so cheaply bringing the interest down.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  8. #458
    stanley2
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    I finally found the quote from the "Your favorite quote from Shakespeare" thread. She wrote only that it's from HAMLET: "Are you like the painting of a sorrow; a face without a heart?"(HAM4.7.123-4). It's near a line from Laertes: "But my revenge will come"(HAM.4.7.31). Earlier in HAMLET, the Ghost says to the Prince: "So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear"(HAM1.5.12). Certainly, the author has some sympathy for the characters in his longest play. Therefore, my first impression of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE was that the author's sympathy was more for Shylock than Antonio. And one might return to John Gross' comment: "I personally think it is absurd to suppose that there is a direct line of descent from Antonio to Hitler, or from Portia to the SS, but that is because I do not believe that the Holocaust was in any way inevitable." Gross and others are rightly concerned about the relationship of folklore in Europe to Shakespeare's play. Still, if one has read some of the Sonnets, it is plain that Antonio may have desired Shylock's wife or even had a love affair.

  9. #459
    stanley2
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    In Bevington's introduction we also find: "Portia and Nerissa cleverly present their new husbands with a cruel choice:................The two husbands, who have vowed never to part with these wedding rings, must therefore choose between love and friendship. The superior claim of friendship is clear, no matter what the cost, and Portia knows well enough that Bassanio's obedience to this Neoplatonic ideal is an essential part of his virtue..........As Gratiano bawdily points out in the play's last line, the ring is both a spiritual and a sexual symbol of marriage. The resolution of this illusory quarrel also brings to an end the merry battle of the sexes between wives and husbands." I think that we have seen that this play was written to promote discussion.

  10. #460
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    And if you think of Antonio as concurring with Portia for Bassanio's love, this episode of the ring serves to establish Portia´s rights as wife definitively.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  11. #461
    stanley2
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    As Professor Greenblatt noted, the death of Dr. Lopez , the Queen's physician, may have been noted by Shakespeare. There is a report that at the execution of Lopez, some in the audience giggled at his last words. Therefore we find in MV the author's interest in what makes people laugh. One example is the contrasting responses from Antonio and Bassanio to Shylock's "merry sport"(MV1.3) proposal. John Gross noted that during the Nazi era the government provided goons and faux scholars during performances. Certainly this discouraged discussion. William Shirer reported that the Nazis jailed hundreds of Christian clergy and though the majority of Germans supported the government at the time one might suggest that doing so also discouraged discussion with tragic results.

  12. #462
    stanley2
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    It can be interesting to compare the anthology SHAW ON SHAKESPEARE with Ron Rosenbaum's THE SHAKESPEARE WARS. Edwin Wilson's introduction to the former begins: "For many people Bernard Shaw's writing on Shakespeare began as a joke. When he became drama critic of THE SATURDAY REVIEW in the 1890s Shaw attacked Shakespeare with an impudence that had not been seen before, nor is likely to be seen again." To say "attacked" is hyperbole as the following example shows, I think: "With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespear when I measure my mind against his." In Rosenbaum's book there are many interesting interviews with actors, directors and scholars.

  13. #463
    stanley2
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    Back in post #280 we noted that Oliver in AS YOU LIKE IT echoes the first line of MV, spoken by Antonio. Editors note that Oliver's speech is spoken to the audience: "Farewell, good Charles. - Now will I stir this gamester. I hope I shall see an end of him; for my soul - yet I know not why - hates nothing more than he"(AYL1.1.153-62). Did we note that Shylock's "How like a fawning publican" speech(MV1.3.37-48) is also spoken to the audience? Shylock's "If I can catch him once upon the hip"(line 42) is echoed by Gratiano later: "Now, infidel, I have you on the hip"(MV4.1.330). "Good Charles" is a professional wrestler. I believe that I did note this previously, yet it is important. There are two comic villains in each play.

  14. #464
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I don't see Shylock as a comic character.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  15. #465
    stanley2
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    Thanks Danik. There are two villains in each play. The Duke says to Shylock: "How shalt thou hope for mercy rendering none?"(MV4.1.89). Therefore, the Duke believes that Antonio has done something wrong. Antonio's line, "Let me have judgement and the Jew his will"(MV4.1.84) is problematic. I don't see any way to solve the problem other than to regard Antonio and Shylock as equally culpable.

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