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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #496
    stanley2
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    When Portia says "Tarry a little; there is something else"(MV4.1.304), Shylock may be standing face to face with Bassanio. That Shylock has a knife in his hand evoked the death of Marlowe. That Bassanio is a scholar and a soldier evoked the life and death of Sir Philip Sidney. The fact that no character in this play is killed makes the question of this thread quite difficult.

  2. #497
    stanley2
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    And in the last scene of R&J we have: "and if aught in this / Miscarried by my fault, let my old life / Be sacrificed some hour before his time / Unto the rigor of severest law"(R&J5.3.266-9). Shylock's "I stand here for law"(MV4.1.142) plainly echoes the Friar. As we have seen, Shylock's first line in the play, "Three thousand ducats, well"(MV1.3.1), plainly recalls Romeo's "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight"(R&J5.1.34). "Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things"(R&J5.3.307), says the Prince. During the Nazi era in Germany, the lunatic government used Shakespeare as a terrorist tool. We read that goons were present in the audience to threaten anyone interested in obeying Shakespeare's Prince.

  3. #498
    stanley2
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    And as Professor Parrott wrote some eighty years ago for students, criticism is often written in response to other critics. Professor Bevington's remarks(see post #391), then, may be in reply to Isaac Asimov, Professor Bloom or his own Christian students whose first impression of the play may be that Shakespeare is rejecting Christianity. For example, Hawkman's remark here that Antonio would rather die than be poor is a thought that might be tempered by further study. And I'm responding in part to John Gross' fine book about the play. Professor Kenneth Gross was responding in part to John Gross and Philip Roth.

  4. #499
    stanley2
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    Professor Barnet begins his notes about the stage history of the play by quoting a comment on Charles Macklin's nineteenth century performance: "This is the Jew that Shakespeare drew." He goes on to add "exactly what does one mean when one says that a certain portrayal renders the figure 'that Shakespeare drew?'.........One school of scholarship protests that we will get the most out of the play if we try to see it in its Elizabethan context, but to argue that 'the Elizabethans' thought thus-and-so about Jews is scarcely convincing, for although Shakespeare certainly was an Elizabethan, he certainly was not a typical Elizabethan..........Moreover, the Shakespeare that interests us is the playwright." Barnet also quotes Shylock's "eyes speech"(as Hawkman calls it here) exactly where Marchette Chute did, "I am a Jew," but he leaves it to us to note that the Elizabethan context is such that the phrase rhymes with Juliet's "What's Montague?" from Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET. Answering the question of this thread is a team effort.

  5. #500
    stanley2
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    Dang! Charles Macklin performed the part of Shylock for nearly half of the eighteenth century, not nineteenth. Portia's "How all the other passions fleet to air"(MV3.2.110) speech can be overlooked as it is found between two lengthy speeches from Bassanio. It does contain, however, a list of passions where we find "green-eyed jealousy." One may then argue that "green-eyed jealousy" is an important motive among others that drive Shylock's "losing suit"(MV4.1.63).

  6. #501
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I still have to look up Portia's speech "How all the other passions fleet to air"( I didn't understand why it has to be ignored only because Bassanio's speeches are longer.
    "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

  7. #502
    stanley2
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    Sorry about a lack of clarity in #500. I meant to note that the speech has not been noted prior to the other day here. Jealousy is also a subject in the scene just before the court scene: "I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into corners"(MV3.5.29-30). "Rash-embraced despair"(MV3.2.109), I should think, might recall the first conversation in the play. One might suggest that Portia's "How all the other passions" speech brings together such things as Hawkman and Charles D.'s disagreement in posts #50-53 here. It is reasonable to suggest that one passion motivating Shylock is jealousy. This is suggested in a speech from Launcelot earlier: "Adieu! Tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew! If a Christian do not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived"(MV2.3.10-12). Some editors,as we have seen, substitute "did" for "do."

  8. #503
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Interesting, Stanley. Launcelot seems to like Jessica indeed. But in the case of Shylock I would rather suggest envy ( of the greater freedom of the Christians) than jealousy.
    "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. #504
    stanley2
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    Well done Danik! One might recall Professor Leggatt's comment for the Folger edition, that various comments are "allowed" by the text. The author's use of the word "or" also comes to mind: "What said my man when my betossed soul / Did not attend him as we rode? I think / He told me Paris should have married Juliet. / Said he not so? Or did I dream it so? / Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet / To think it was so?"(ROMEO AND JULIET5.3.76-81). Eminent scholar J. Dover Wilson wrote that MV was written near the time of R&J and that it is interesting to compare the two.

  10. #505
    stanley2
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    Portia's "How all the other passions"(MV3.2.110) speech is found right after Bassanio makes his choice. Portia is quite relieved, one might say. We then have the question of whether the casket test was a good idea. In the first two scenes of the play we learn that Portia and Bassanio are fond of one another. Was Portia's father, then, like Egeus in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Shylock in MV lacking in enthusiasm? Yet another difficult question I think. That the phrase "green-eyed jealousy" follows hard on Bassanio's choice, I think, strongly suggests that this passion is the most important one regarding Shylock's motivation.

  11. #506
    stanley2
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    The last four of the seven lines in Portia's response to Bassanio's choice(3.2) follow: " O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy, / In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess! / I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less, / For fear I surfeit"(MV3.2.114-117). We find an echo in the first lines of TWELFTH NIGHT: "If music be the food of love, play on! / Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, / The appetite may sicken, and so die." Most editors include the word "aside" in brackets before Portia's speech, which begins with the word "How." These last two points are the same as in Shylock's "How like a fawning publican"
    speech(MV1.3.41-52).

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