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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #196
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I´m no native, Stanley, but I suppose, Shakespeare uses the expression "merry sport" as a synonym of "merry game" in a playful sense. He is not referring to the modern sport categories, I think.
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  2. #197
    stanley2
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    During the play within the play in MND we have: "The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them," and Hippolyta's reply, "It must be your imagination then, and not theirs"(MND5.1.210-11). In the Prince's speech that concludes R&J we have: "Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things"(R&J5.3.307). In this thread we have from Hawkman: "Shylock's interaction with Antonio constitutes the drama of the piece. It's what drives the plot forward." From Charles D. we have: "The love story is the driving point of the play."
    Last edited by stanley2; 05-26-2020 at 08:10 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #198
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    I think, we have at least two stories in MV: The hate and revenge story of Antonio and Shylock and the love story of Bassanio and Portia. But you could also say that there are two love stories: the love story of Antonio and Bassanio and the love story of Bassanio and Portia.
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  4. #199
    stanley2
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    Another puzzle we have is how did Portia and her cousin prepare for the court appearance? Bellario's letter to the Duke reads: "We turned o'er many books together"(MV4.1.156). On the other hand, when Portia says "Tarry a little," she may be reviewing her cousin's "notes"(3.4.51). Much more certain is Antonio's "You may as well go stand upon the beach / And bid the main flood bate his usual height; / You may as well use question with the wolf"(MV4.1.71-3) and Gratiano's "O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog!"(4.1.128). Some editors replace "inexecrable" with "inexorable". Inexecrable is in keeping with Bassanio's "Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing"(1.1.114). These lines are clearly intended to recall Romeo's lines to his man in the last scene of R&J(see post #176).

    .
    Last edited by stanley2; 05-26-2020 at 08:32 AM.

  5. #200
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    A good question that, stanley. The play doesn´t make that clear, but I suppose that Portia was instructed privately or even at a law university. Portia was intelligent and avid of knowledge. And it is very possible that she was prepared to administrate her wast inheritance. Law is a complex subject and just reading her cousins notes wouldn´t enable a brilliant court defence.
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  6. #201
    stanley2
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    Professor Bevington suggested that "Renaissance Neoplatonism, depicting love as a chain or ladder from the basest carnality to the supreme love of God for man," helps explain Antonio's relationship with Bassanio: "On this ladder, perfect friendship and spiritual union are more sublimely Godlike than sexual fulfillment." Professor Bate, however, quotes W. H. Auden: "Shylock, however unintentionally, did, in fact, hazard all for the sake of destroying the enemy he hated; and Antonio, however unthinkingly he signed the bond, hazarded all to secure the happiness of the man he loved." These obscurities may be in part, Shakespeare's response to the uncertainties surrounding the death of Christopher Marlowe and the strange case of Dr. Lopez, who was hanged for conspiring to murder his client, the queen. Marlowe was reportedly killed with a dagger. The coroner ruled than the man who killed him acted in self defense. Marlowe is thought to have been gay and atheist. It may then be tempting to say that Antonio is at the end of the play the same as at the start, simply a melancholy man.

  7. #202
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    Professor Bevington and Professor Bate may be right. As a person Antonio is melancholy from the beginning to the end of the play, but his initial protagonism as a character has to give way to Portia´s. He loses not only Bassanio but also the limelight to her, ending the play among the secondary characters.

    But is there any evidence that Marlowe´s death has anything to do with MV?
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  8. #203
    stanley2
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    I'll return to Marlowe's death later. In his introduction, Professor Drakakis notes that a play called THE THREE LADIES OF LONDON "was evidently popular " in the early 1580's. Bevington tells us that the Jewish character in that play "is an exemplary person." Marlowe's play, THE JEW OF MALTA, written in the late 1580's, is a very different play. Shakespeare, then, took a different approach. In ROMEO AND JULIET, the Friar says "Two such opposed kings encamp them still / In man as well as herbs--grace and rude will"(R&J2.3.25-6). In MV, Lancelet the clown says to Bassanio: "you have the grace of God, sir, and he hath enough."(MV2.2.133). Therefore, in MV the audience hopes to learn whether Shylock is more like Tybalt and Mercutio or like Romeo.

  9. #204
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    "Therefore, in MV the audience hopes to learn whether Shylock is more like Tybalt and Mercutio or like Romeo."
    Not sure, if the audience is making any comparisons between MV and other plays, but Shylock is certainly no Romeo. No Mercutio either, though he has some grotesques moments.
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  10. #205
    stanley2
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    The author also recommends comparison of Shylock and Capulet. Capulet says to his daughter: "How, how, how ,how, chop-logic? What is this?............But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next.........Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither....."(ROM3.5.150-157). Shylock says to Tubal: "Why there, there, there, there..........Would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin"(MV3.1.71-78). Lady Capulet's response to her husband, ""Fie, fie! What, are you mad?," is a serious question as MV begins with Antonio telling us that "sadness" has made him a "want-wit" and at the end of the court scene Shylock is "not well"(MV4.1.394).
    Last edited by stanley2; 05-30-2020 at 09:53 PM.

  11. #206
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    Well, both have daughters that rebel against the will of their fathers, because of their lovers. But while one is of the side of Julia Capulet, I personally I´m not so sure about Rebecca. She robs her own father and the play gives some indications that the love relationship might not last.
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  12. #207
    stanley2
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    And Professor Bate tells us that Shakespeare "found in Ovid a great store of examples of female feeling---something that was notably lacking in many of his other models, such as the plays of Marlowe and the history books of Plutarch and Holinshed." Professor Kermode marked the uncertainty surrounding the deaths of Marlowe and Dr. Lopez by sharing his opinions that "Marlowe was murdered, but that was when he was apparently engaged in his second career as a spy" and Lopez "was in 1594 tried on false evidence." Morocco's farewell, "Portia adieu, I have too grieved a heart / To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part"(MV2.7.26-7), foreshadows Antonio's "These griefs and losses"(3.3.32). In making his choice, Morocco says: "Let's see once more this saying graved in gold: / 'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.' / Why that's the lady, all the world desires her, / From the four corners of the earth they come / To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint"(MV2.7.36-40). "Saint" and "shrine" are also found in Romeo and Juliet's first conversation, which, we are told is in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet. Therefore, the author recommends comparison of the Sonnets once again with the play.
    Last edited by stanley2; 06-04-2020 at 02:04 PM.

  13. #208
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I must have a look at Ovid, sometime.

    I see, but what does Marlowe's life or death have to do with MV?

    Maybe it was usual at that time to compare "good" women to saints.?
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  14. #209
    stanley2
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    Among other things, the author seems to be recommending sympathy for grieving widowers and eccentric gays. The play begins with discussion of Antonio's melancholy. One possible cause is clearly stated in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: "This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad"(MND5.1.284-5). Shylock's "What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?"(MV4.1.68) might recall Juliet's "O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face!........Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb"(ROM3.2.73-6) . In turn, Gratiano echoes Juliet: "for thy desires / Are wolvish, bloody, starved and ravenous"(MV4.1.137). As the author suggests that Portia's father and a woman named Leah have passed on to eternity, Antonio and Shylock are possibly each grieving both losses.

  15. #210
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Is Leah Shylock´s deceased wife?

    Portia´s father died, as we know, before the play started. It is not clear if Antonio knew him personally.
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