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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #466
    stanley2
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    Let's return to historian Michael Woods IN SEARCH OF SHAKESPEARE where he suggests that there are too many unanswered questions left at the end of the play. I think that we have seen that there are various answers suggested by the links to other plays and poems. The author is also suggesting that we discuss with others such things as Juliet's question "What's Montague?"(ROM2.2.39) and Shylock's "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?"(MV3.1.49-50).

  2. #467
    stanley2
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    I should say that one might well argue that Ron Rosenbaum is a fan of team Portia as well as of team Shylock. Portia's "Tarry a little, there is something else"(MV4.1.313) seems to bring us all back to search the play. He noted that Shylock's "Signior Antonio" speech(MV1.3.105-127) is too full of the letter "s." One then may note that the scrolls that Portia's father included in the gold and silver caskets are also adorned with the same letter: "Some there be that shadows kiss / Such have but a shadow's bliss"(2.9.66-7). Therefore, Shylock is linked to yet another character. In Act 3, scene 5 of R&J we find Juliet exclaiming: "Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!" She is sharing with the reader her opinion of the Nurse. It also is another place where the author makes use of the term "ancient." Is Shakespeare here simply implying that the Nurse is a senior citizen? Or is there more to it?

  3. #468
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I donīt remember any more if this nurse had an active role in the play.
    "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

  4. #469
    stanley2
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    As Professor Julia Kristeva noted, R&J, as it has come down to us, was most likely written in late 1596 shortly after the loss of the author's son. It is therefore a kind of elegy. This may be why we find little mention of links to MV. In Norrie Epstein's fine book, THE FRIENDLY SHAKESPEARE, she included an interview with an actor where she asks him if Antonio is gay or homosexual. His answer is that we're not to know. Antonio is a puzzle at the center of the play. The same may be argued regarding Shylock. Shylock, it seems, desires to kill Antonio. Yet the Duke's line, "How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?"(MV4.1.89), plainly indicates that Shylock's life is the one in danger.

  5. #470
    stanley2
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    Back in post #83, Hawkman asks: "Why does Shylock want to kill Antonio?" He notes a long list. Drkshadow03 responds(#84) that the play is in part about the BIBLE. There we read in DEUTERONOMY as translated by Shakespeare's contemporaries that one may not "desire thy neighbor's wife." Portia's father wrote "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire"(MV2.7.5). One may then suggest that Antonio desired Shylock's wife.

  6. #471
    stanley2
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    When Bassanio asks Shylock, "Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?"(MV4.1.123), one might note that the line that precedes Bassanio's is Nerissa's: "From both. My lord Bellario greets your grace." It is Nerissa who speaks the line "Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat?"(MV1.2.98). As Marlowe was a scholar and a government secret agent, we have another indication that the author had his fellow dramatist in mind. The second to last line of the play, "Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing" might recall Shylock's first line in the play: "Three thousand ducats, well"(MV1.3.1). In the lines that follow the word "well" is repeated twice. In R&J, we find: "How doth my lady? Is my father well? / How fares my Juliet? That I ask again, / For nothing can be ill if she be well. Balthasar replies: "Then she is well, and nothing can be ill"(R&J5.1.17). Eighteen lines later, Romeo says: "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight." I returned to these lines again after reviewing Ron Rosenbaum's notes on the play. Therefore, we have yet more links to Marlowe and R&J.

  7. #472
    stanley2
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    In Professor Kenneth Gross' fine book, SHYLOCK IS SHAKESPEARE, he comments on Shylock's last lines: "Shylock abruptly leaves the court; the Christian world wants to know no more about him, but it is not likely he will go out of our minds...........The last act, with its moving evocation of cosmic music, and its touching game of rings, offers us a sense of time restored, of fortune made right, of a happiness, a 'life and living, 'that extend toward an unknown future." The "game of rings," as Professor Bate suggested, recalls the ring that Shylock's wife gave him(MV3.1.104). One may then argue that Shylock believed that Antonio had an adulterous relationship with Leah. One then might quote John Gross again: "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." This last quote, I think, supports what we have seen here. That is, the author wrote the play to foster discussion.

  8. #473
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    This Professor Bate seems obsessed by Shylock's wife who never was a character in the play.

    Happy New Year, stanley!
    "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

  9. #474
    stanley2
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    Happy New Year, Danik. And thanks so much for helping me stay on track. Professor Parrott suggested that Shakespeare himself had a kind of "sex obsession." This may in part be due to the fact that the top government office was held by Elizabeth I from 1548-1603. At any rate, Bate is not altogether fool: "Whether or not it is appropriate to invoke the idea of sexual transgression, Shakespeare often returned to a triangular structure of relationships in which close male friendship is placed at odds with desire for a woman. The pattern recurs not only in several of the plays but also as the implied narrative of the Sonnets."

  10. #475
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    You are welcome! Possibly this triangular pattern exited already in the old Greek plays.
    "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. #476
    stanley2
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    I botched the numbers in #474. Elizabeth was queen in 1558, not 48.

  12. #477
    stanley2
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    Professor Dusinberre, in her introduction to AS YOU LIKE IT, wrote that "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE(1596-7) and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING(1598-9) feature in Portia and Beatrice powerful women who, like Rosalind, suggest parallels with Elizabeth I, before whose court-as well as at the public theatre, most of the comedies would have been performed." Of the character Cleopatra Professor Bate wrote: "She is the consummate actress, able to change her mood on a whim, to keep all around her guessing as to whether she is in earnest or at play..........She is also the only woman in Shakespeare's tragedies to have a wit comparable to that of such comic heroines as Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT and Portia in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE............Cleopatra is a grown-up Juliet." To answer this thread's question one must compare one play to another.

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