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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #301
    stanley2
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    In MV, the author at times makes it difficult to determine where religion is an issue: "Now by two-headed Janus, / Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time. / Some that will evermore peep through there eyes, / And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper. / And other......"(MV1.1.29-32). Professor Bate included an excerpt from the prologue in THE JEW OF MALTA, by Marlowe(In his book, SOUL OF THE AGE): "I count religion but a childish toy, / And hold there is no sin but ignorance....." Bate tells us that this speech is a satirical sketch of Florentine political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli. Shakespeare, in turn, makes it difficult to determine if Portia is at times presenting a satirical sketch of Balthasar, though the "quality of mercy" speech is clearly serious.

  2. #302
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I have never thought about it, but what would Shakespeare own religious believes be?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #303
    stanley2
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    There's a fine article, a far ranging book review, by the late scholar Edward T. Oakes, S.J. in the journal FIRST THINGS, June/July 2004, Number144. Part of his conclusion reads: "So who knows what Shakespeare's religious convictions were? No one, probably. But at least Kermode, Wood and Bernthal can confirm this historical fact: he knew his theology, Catholic and Protestant. What audiences and readers make of that, it seems, is up to them."

  4. #304
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks, Stanley. Do you have the link to that article?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  5. #305
    stanley2
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    I think you can see the article at www.firstthings.com, then click issues archive, and june/july 2004. That is, as elsewhere, one is allowed a free sample, so to speak.

  6. #306
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks, Stanley!
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  7. #307
    stanley2
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    For the RSC edition(2007), Professor Bate wrote; "shortly after the second world war, the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye published a short essay that inaugurated the modern understanding that Shakespeare's comedies, for all their lightness and play, are serious works of art..........the essential structure of Shakespearean comedy was ultimately derived from the 'new comedy' of ancient Greece, which was mediated to the Renaissance via its Roman exponents Plautus and Terence." It is interesting, then, to note that Shakespeare plainly had in mind the conclusion of THE ODYSSEY(see the other thread). Bate goes on to note that Shylock is a bit like Jaques in AS YOU LIKE IT. I noted that Jaques is also associated with Antonio(see post #277).

  8. #308
    stanley2
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    Professor Bloom also wrote in 1986 that "Shakespearean representation presents us with many perplexities throughout the comedies and romances: Angelo and Malvolio, among others, are perhaps as baffling as Shylock." He quite reasonably argues that the play is a "problem play" in part due to "xenophobia and the Gospel of John." Antonio's line, "Mark you this, Bassanio, / The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose"(MV1.3.92), is noted by editors as proverbial and a reference to Matthew 4:6. There are indications that Shakespeare also had in mind the Gospel of John. The last line of Antonio's speech reads: "O what a goodly outside falsehood hath!" This line echoes the last line of Juliet's "O, serpent" speech: "O, that deceit should dwell / In such a gorgeous palace!"(Romeo3.2.84-5), yet another link to ROMEO AND JULIET. Juliet is speaking of Romeo. Another indication is the multiple mention of the word "father" in each text. In chapter 8 of the Gospel we find, "Abraham is our father.....If God were your Father.......Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?" In the second scene of MV we find: "so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?(MV1.2.21-2). The clownish fool's monologue(Act 2, scene 2), with talk of "the devil himself," is followed by the stage direction, "Enter Old Gobbo with a basket."

  9. #309
    stanley2
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    That is, following the Prologue in ROMEO AND JULIET, as we have seen, the first and last lines of the ensuing conversation are together an allusion to the first line of the Gospel of John. The play ends with a speech by the Prince where we find: "Go hence to have more talk of these sad things."

  10. #310
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    These allusion to the Gospel of John is not so clear to me.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  11. #311
    stanley2
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    Professor Halio's introduction(see post #243, page 17) suggests that we should expect various opinions regarding the author's Biblical allusions. You may find having a look at the King James translation of the Bible interesting in comparison to Shakespeare as it was written by his contemporaries.

  12. #312
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks for the indication.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  13. #313
    stanley2
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    Shylock's "Mark what Jacob did:................The skillful shepherd peeled me certain wands, / And in the doing of the deed of kind, / He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes, / Who then conceiving, did in eaning time / Fall parti-coloured lambs"(MV1.3.75-86), is glossed by Bate and Rasmussen as follows: "refers to the idea that what the mother sees during conception influences the appearance of the offspring." In CLIFFSNOTES(2000 edition) we find "Antonio(like many playgoers) is baffled by the story's relevance to the matter at hand." Therefore, in trying to make sense of it one may consider that Shakespeare here has the Gospel of John in mind. Juliet's "What devil art thou that dost torment me thus?"(R&J3.2.45) is another piece of the puzzle.

  14. #314
    stanley2
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    As the Friar's monologue(R&J2.2) reaches it's conclusion, Romeo enters and says: "Good morrow, father." This corresponds to Lancelet's 'O heavens, this is my true-begotten father"(MV2.2.28). Bate and Rasmussen gloss "true-begotten" to mean "honestly conceived(Lancelet means 'real, true)."

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