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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #181
    stanley2
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    oops

    The line in KING LEAR from Kent is actually a bit later, Act 1 scene 4. Now, one comment earlier in this thread, "The arrogance(and stupidity) of the man is staggering.........What a twit!" might stimulate one to respond as it is about Antonio. Perhaps Professor Bevington's introduction to the play is the best. He uses the terms "paradox" and "undoubted ironies." The beginning of the play is also stimulating: "In sooth I know not why I am so sad............And such a want-wit sadness makes of me / That I have much ado to know myself." The phrase "want-wit" allows one to argue that Antonio finds himself "lacking in good sense"(Bevington's gloss). Professor Goddard's comments are also interesting as he suggested that Antonio's sadness may be in part attributable to a long standing romantic passion.

  2. #182
    stanley2
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    The "strange nature" of the suit

    In his book THE AGE OF SHAKESPEARE, Professor Kermode wrote of the trial or court scene: "The trial is folklore, and the judgment comes from a folklore lawyer, but the issues are real enough." Therefore, the scene is exciting. Further review, I think, allows one to suggest that only Shylock, Antonio and Portia make it so stimulating. The Duke gives us a clue regarding why he is allowing the case to be presented: "The world thinks, and I think so too, / That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice / To the last hour of act, and then 'tis thought / Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange / Than is thy strange and apparent cruelty"(4.1.16-20). That is, he hopes that the proceedings will resolve, at least in part, the conflict between Antonio and Shylock. When this is not happening, he turns things over to Portia. Her "the Venetian law / Cannot impugn you as you do proceed"(4.1.180-1), is one of the "thousand raw tricks"(3.4.77) that she warns us she may "practice." It also allows her famous "quality of mercy" speech that may be be intended to save the life of Shylock. Bassanio's "You shall not seal to such a bond for me!"(1.3.150) may mean simply that he regards the proposed terms as "bad form." Therefore, Shylock and Antonio alone regard the forfeiture to have any legal standing.

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