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

Voters
8. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes

    2 25.00%
  • No

    6 75.00%
Multiple Choice Poll.
Page 11 of 16 FirstFirst ... 678910111213141516 LastLast
Results 151 to 165 of 236

Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #151
    stanley2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    117
    "Mark you this, Bassanio, / The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose "(MV1.3). You might take a break from writing challenging posts and read one of Professor Greenblatt's books, as recomended by Mr. Bishop. In the court or trial scene, there is no indication that Bassanio is not standing between Shylock and Antonio throughout, that is, until Portia has ruled against Shylock. It seems that the phrase "pound of flesh" was already becoming proverbial when Shakespeare picked it up.

  2. #152
    Closed
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    6,375


    Edit: Oh sorry. Something in my eye.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-02-2015 at 07:47 PM.

  3. #153
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,420
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by stanley2 View Post
    "Mark you this, Bassanio, / The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose "(MV1.3). You might take a break from writing challenging posts and read one of Professor Greenblatt's books, as recomended by Mr. Bishop. In the court or trial scene, there is no indication that Bassanio is not standing between Shylock and Antonio throughout, that is, until Portia has ruled against Shylock. It seems that the phrase "pound of flesh" was already becoming proverbial when Shakespeare picked it up.
    I could not find a history of the phrase "pound of flesh" that did not have the earliest reference to The Merchant of Venice, but I only did a quick internet search.

    Who used it before Shakespeare?

  4. #154
    stanley2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    117
    I am indeed, as they say, "in over my head" or "out of my depth" on that point. Perhaps my profile at this site needs work, like, I have the mind of a five year old who was glad to be rid of it or I wouldn't know a proverbial from an idiom if, etc. My comment came about from reading editors notes regarding "sources" such as ""But the Jew in Silvayn's narrative in not benign in his rejecting payment of a bond and demanding a pound of the merchant's flesh," and "The so-called 'flesh-bond' may be traced back to the MAHABARATA. Also, In Professor Gross' fine book SHYLOCK IS SHAKESPeARE, we find "The forced conversion is Shakespeare's most conspicuous addition to the traditional pound-of-flesh legend." Therefore, "This is not altogether fool, my Lord." Some might argue that the phrase is not proverbial or idiomatic even today except among a small group of people who wear bow ties every day. At any rate, no , I do not have an example that you ask for. I meant to suggest that the phrase may have become proverbial or whatever even if Shakespeare did not write this play.

  5. #155
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,420
    Blog Entries
    2
    It would be interesting if the idea of a flesh-bond could be traced back to the Mahabharata. I've only read the part that became the Bhagavad Gita in it.

    I'm also out of my depth when it comes to Shakespeare or even this play.

  6. #156
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    75
    YesNo

    I would recommend you read the whole of the Mahabharata. Might sound strange thing for someone brought up as Muslim but now long time atheist to say. I was thinking of starting a thread about the wonderful stories/plot lines and characters in the book. Personally I did not enjoy the Ramayana as much, but both books are on my bookshelf at home. If nothing else, reading them will give you a better understanding of the values and references in Indian culture, rather similar to reading the Bible gives insights into European cultures and values. (Yes I have read the bible cover to cover too, when I was 17 years old and the new English translation of the Bible was first published.)

  7. #157
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,420
    Blog Entries
    2
    One day I plan on reading the Mahabharata. I haven't read much of the Bible. I can only remember reading Genesis, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Job, parts of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and Revelation primarily because people referred to them. I've read the shorter surahs at the end of the Quran.

    What do you think of The Merchant of Venice? Do you think it is an antisemitic play? After watching it a few years ago, it gave me the impression that it was. I didn't enjoy it either. Probably the only play by Shakespeare that I wouldn't mind seeing again is Midsummer Night's Dream.

  8. #158
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    75
    YesNo

    Yes we did cover Merchants of Venice at school. I have read quite a few of the responses from people on that thread. My views are (pardon the pun) coloured by my work as a senior manager in local government addressing the issues of equality/diversity. I have also as a racially discriminated against minority in the UK been a political activist around equality issues. That said your question can be answered at two levels. Is the play itself and how it portrays Shylock anti-semitic? IMO yes, it's ani-semitic (even though as a good writer Shakespeare gives Shylock some good lines.) To me the other important question is whether we can or ought to apply modern day standards of morality to historical situations (fictional or real). In this regard, Shakespeare was only reflecting popular and public attitudes to Jewish people. He would have to describe Shylock as a Jew in ways that were familiar to his audience.

    I think the same sort of arguments can be used about Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Last of the Mohicans etc. Those novels (all of which I have read despite them having a particular resonance for Americans) reflect the morality/social mores of their time. To retrorespectively label them racist is unhelpful.

  9. #159
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,420
    Blog Entries
    2
    Thanks, Munshie.

    We partially agree. I have also worked in corporate environments where harassment issues are openly discussed for the company's legal protection. So we agree that the text is antisemitic.

    I don't agree with the idea that it was acceptable for Shakespeare to have written such a play because the common sense standards of morality were different in his day. One could excuse even the audience on those grounds. The most I would grant is that it would be easier for him to write such a play hundreds of years ago than it would be today.

    I've heard such arguments used to justify people like Thomas More who had the power and ordered religious opponents burnt at the stake. (See "God's Bestseller" for details). I don't think those arguments excuse More any more than they excuse Shakespeare. Nor do the arguments of relative cultural morality justify those who canonized More.

  10. #160
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    75
    YesNo

    You make a fair point.

  11. #161
    stanley2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    117
    One guess re the brevity of Mr. Pompey Bum's note, as we have learned to expect him to share more from the "great heap"(AS YOU LIKE IT) of his knowledge, is that he may not have read the play for some time. This seems to be common, that is, people stop by MV and then rush off, or return to the later plays ASAP. Shylock is then no more than a "bad example" and the play is bad. Once again, though, Romeo threatens to "sack the hateful mansion," that is, to kill himself with a knife or dagger(ROM3.3). This from a "virtuous and well-governed youth"(ROM1.4). Therefore, Shylock is dealing with common problems. As the ladies here have suggested, conflict is a convention in drama. In MV, the major conflict is between Antonio and Shylock. Also noted is the real question of who is most to blame.

  12. #162
    Closed
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    6,375
    No Stan. It was an inside joke having to do with your mention of a former member who was banned. It had nothing to do with the play or your opinions or you. Sorry to have hurt your feelings. I'm glad you enjoy my heaps, though. ;-)
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-08-2015 at 06:27 PM.

  13. #163
    stanley2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    117
    Now I have it: Enter Jeeves and Wooster

  14. #164
    stanley2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    117
    As they .say, Yup, Shakespeare was good. And the conclusion of THE ODYSSEY was very very likely on his mind. Thanks for stopping by, guys.

  15. #165
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,420
    Blog Entries
    2
    We were talking about the origin of the pound of flesh, stanley2. I read more of the wikipedia article I cited earlier and apparently Shakespeare did not make it up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Merchant_of_Venice

    The forfeit of a merchant's deadly bond after standing surety for a friend's loan was a common tale in England in the late 16th century. In addition, the test of the suitors at Belmont, the merchant's rescue from the "pound of flesh" penalty by his friend's new wife disguised as a lawyer, and her demand for the betrothal ring in payment are all elements present in the 14th-century tale Il Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino, which was published in Milan in 1558. Elements of the trial scene are also found in The Orator by Alexandre Sylvane, published in translation in 1596. The story of the three caskets can be found in "Gesta Romanorum", a collection of tales probably compiled at the end of the 13th century.

Similar Threads

  1. Help! What is the best theme to write about Merchant of Venice
    By sparrgrovek in forum Merchant of Venice
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-04-2011, 10:57 PM
  2. SE Merchant of Venice
    By fleurinemenijn in forum Merchant of Venice
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 12-28-2009, 10:21 AM
  3. Some questions for 'The merchant of Venice'
    By icon in forum Merchant of Venice
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 02-06-2007, 04:00 PM
  4. Candles and Light in the Merchant of Venice
    By kre8ivkath in forum Merchant of Venice
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-25-2006, 12:52 PM
  5. merchant of venice
    By jack mc jackerton in forum Merchant of Venice
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-24-2005, 06:07 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •