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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #241
    stanley2
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    Mr. prendrelemik continues: "Shakespeare has written him in that way, and goes further, to say he is acting the way he does because he is a Jew." As Danik might note, not directly. We might then note that as Professor Wilson suggested, R&J was fresh in the minds of the audience when MV was first performed. Thus it is that in the former there are several violent deaths and in the latter we find Shylock presenting his case before a formal court: "Some men there are love not a gaping pig; / Some that are mad if they behold a cat; / And others, when the bagpipe sings i'th' nose......."(MV4.1.46-8). These particular lines echo lines from Solanio in the first scene: "Now, by two-headed Janus / Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time; / Some that will evermore peep through their eyes / And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper / And other of such vinegar aspect........(MV1.1.50-54). Of course when Shylock is finished, Bassanio replies: "This is no answer, thou unfeeling man"(MV4.1.62). And Shylock's "I am a Jew" in Act 3, scene 1 is as the late Joseph Papp called such lines, one of the play's "show stoppers." These last two quotes may help explain Mr. prendrelemick's comment. As I have documented, this last quote plainly corresponds to Juliet's line "What's Montague?"(R&J2.2.40). And thus Antonio and Shylock are "strange fellows."

  2. #242
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "Mr. prendrelemik continues: "Shakespeare has written him in that way, and goes further, to say he is acting the way he does because he is a Jew." As Danik might note, not directly."

    Im not sure if Danik would have noted that but never mind. And it would be good to have some news of prendrelemik.

    But I like the part where Shylock explains himself for it is where Shakespeare permits him to explain his own point of view.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #243
    stanley2
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    The lines from Antonio, "I pray you, think you question with the Jew. / You may as well go stand upon the beach......"(MV4.1.70-73), may also have been what prendrelemick had in mind. As we have seen, the lines also echo some from Romeo Montague. For his introduction, Professor Halio wrote: "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is studded with both classical and biblical allusions, though how many were deliberately intended or unconsciously woven into the fabric of the dialogue is uncertain.......Some, of course, cannot be mistaken or missed.......Others may be more subtle, involving satirical or other purposes. But all of them extend the play's dimensions." Much the same may be said of allusions to ROMEO AND JULIET and the Sonnets. Therefore, when Shylock says "But more for that in low simplicity / He lends out money gratis"(MV1.3.39-40), the reader may recall Sonnet 66: "Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry.........And simple truth miscall'd simplicity." This adds to the list of answers regarding why Shylock acts the way he does.

  4. #244
    stanley2
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    In post #102, mona amon noted Solanio's mimicry of Shylock: "It's difficult to explain why one finds something funny, but I did laugh at the 'My daughter! O, my ducats! O, my daughter! / Fled with a Christian! O, my Christian ducats!'"(MV2.8.15-16). There's something incongruous about the phrase "Christian ducats." Solanio's "laugh like parrots" from the first scene is useful here as some parrots are capable of mimicking human speech. If Shylock is a dog, then Solanio is a parrot. In Act 3, scene 5 we find Lorenzo's "I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and discourse grow commendable in none only but parrots"(MV3.5.40-3).

  5. #245
    stanley2
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    Charles D. and Drkshadow03 note Shylock's much noted speech in Act 3, scene 1. The speech is prompted by Salerio's "Why, I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh. What's that good for?"(MV3.1.46-7). In turn, Salerio is responding to Shylock's "There I have another bad match:...............let him look to his bond." This is his reply to "There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than between jet and ivory, more between your bloods than there is between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?" Editors have various opinions regarding the "Salads." All agree, though, that the two characters that Shylock speaks to here are the same two that Antonio speaks with in the first scene of the play. As I have documented, Salerio's "difference" speech corresponds to three images in R&J that in turn correspond to the black and white picture representing Chinese dualistic philosophy. At any rate, these two characters, then, indicate some semblance regarding Antonio and Shylock. They are each comic villains.

  6. #246
    stanley2
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    " Before you know it the general consensus is that no one should subject school children to this 'without context,'" wrote kiki1982. I do recall in high school one of the guys carrying a copy of this play when I was reading JULIUS CAESAR and that the same fellow had a copy of R&J the year before when I was reading MND. It seems that context has been regarded as important for some time. Even in Shakespeare's time successful writers, I should think, were rarely killed with daggers. Therefore, when Shylock says "Thou stick'st a dagger in me"(MV3.1.103), many in the audience in 1597 or so would have recalled the reports of Marlowe's death, though Shylock's speech is hyperbole, a figure of speech, an idiom and a literary device. YesNo quoted Greenblatt's comment on the dialogue between Shylock and Tubal: "This is the stuff of comedy, and it is certainly possible to play the scene for laughs." YesNo goes on to ask "How do you 'play the scene for laughs' given what happens to Shylock in the end unless the laughter originates from an underlying antisemitism?" If we also recall the lines from Juliet(see the recent post above #236), you most likely do not. If Antonio is noted as a second comic villain, as we see in AS YOU LIKE IT, one might laugh here and there, I suppose. If R&J is fresh in the minds of the audience, Nick Bottom tells us what to expect: "That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes"(MND1.2.27-8).
    Last edited by stanley2; 10-03-2020 at 08:04 PM.

  7. #247
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I'm just putting up these links about these courses that might interest you, Stanley, and other litnetters. They are free on line Harward courses about The Merchant of Venice and Shakespeare. One has to pau for the Certificate though, if one wants one:
    https://www.edx.org/course/shakespea...venice-shylock
    https://www.edx.org/course/shakespeares-life-and-work
    https://www.edx.org/course/shakespea...hello-the-moor
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  8. #248
    stanley2
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    Thanks for the suggestion. While considering the matter, I came across another Greenblatt book, THE SWERVE. Looks interesting. The "course," in another sense, that we're on here was set by the late critic John Gross in his 1994 book about Shylock: "I personally think it is absurd to suppose that there is a direct line of descent from Antonio to Hitler or Portia to the SS, but that is because I do not believe that the Holocaust was in any way inevitable." Here in the U.S., with the passing of Justice Ginsburg, we are reminded of the tribute she wrote when Justice Scalia passed on to eternity. The conclusion reads "It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend." Their determinations as Justices were often in opposition, and the one was Jewish and the other Roman Catholic Italian-American. This is something like what I've been carefully documenting in Shakespeare's play. In AS YOU LIKE IT, the two comic villains are reforming themselves late in the play. Back in the court scene in MV, we find Bassanio's question again: "Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?"(MV4.1.120). When Portia turns things around, then, part of the tension is the question of whether Shylock will meet the same fate as Christopher Marlowe. Back in ROMEO AND JULIET we find Romeo also threatening: " O, tell me, Friar, tell me, / In what vile part of this anatomy / Doth my name lodge? Tell me that I may sack / The hateful mansion"(ROM3.3.104-6). It is interesting that in the First Quarto is a stage direction: "He offers to stab himself, and Nurse snatches the dagger away."
    Last edited by stanley2; 10-14-2020 at 06:43 PM.

  9. #249
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "Here in the U.S., with the passing of Justice Ginsburg, we are reminded of the tribute she wrote when Justice Scalia passed on to eternity. The conclusion reads "It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend." Their determinations as Justices were often in opposition, and the one was Jewish and the other Roman Catholic Italian-American."
    More than any relation to MV I liked you mention of this tribute.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  10. #250
    stanley2
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    Mr. Lake's notes, "Shakespeare is playing on racial stereotypes for laughs.........all comic writers play on one stereotype or another," are good regarding one side of the ducat. On the other hand, when the Duke says "Upon my power I may dismiss this court, / Unless Bellario, a learned doctor / Whom I have sent for to determine this, / Come here today"(MV4.1.103-6), part of the original context is Romeo's "This shall determine that"(ROM3.1.131), where Romeo is speaking of his sword. Of the play onstage Professor Halio wrote: "Unfortunately, scant information on THE MERCHANT OF VENICE as performed in Shakespeare's era has come down to us. The first known record of any performance appears on the title page of the first quarto(1600)." We do know that the author worked with a troupe of players. It is then possible that the actor who played the Prince in R&J may have played the Duke in MV. It is also thought that the leading actor in the company played Shylock and a young man played Portia. Richard Burbage went on to play Hamlet. Shakespeare himself may have played Antonio, or Bassanio. Imagine the "sweet swan of Avon" saying "When I told you / My state was nothing, I should have told you / That I was worse than nothing"(MV3.2.256-8).

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