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

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #256
    stanley2
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    Regarding Shylock, Mr. yesno asked, "why is he so often called just 'the Jew?'" One answer is that as Hawkman suggested, the characters have something in common with the characters Alf Garnet and Archie Bunker. Another is that "Jew" rhymes with "Montague." As we have seen, Shakespeare suggests that the passions of Shylock and Antonio may be much like those of Romeo. Charles D. wrote that the clownish fool Lancelet's purpose is a "comic mirroring or parody of what is happening in the main plot." In his little play within the play(Act 2 , scene 2), he follows the advice of "the fiend." This is in keeping with the beginning of the play where Antonio is a "want-wit." And one might argue that the court scene is engaging, in part, because Antonio and Shylock are co-villains. That is, as Hawkman noted, Antonio is also blameworthy.

  2. #257
    stanley2
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    In AS YOU LIKE IT, the clownish fool says to young William: "I do now remember a saying: ' The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool'"(AYL5.1.31). Portia's "I have within my mind / A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks, / Which I will practice"(MV3.4.76-8). This last passage must be noted if we are to consider the puzzle of how she and her cousin prepared for the court scene. Therefore, one might argue that Portia herself is, to some extent, the clownish fool even in the court scene. And Shakespearean baseball fans will suggest that Shylock hits a three run homer off relief pitcher Gratiano: "Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond, / thou but offend'st thy lungs to speak so loud. Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall / To cureless ruin. I stand here for law"(MV4.1.139-42).

  3. #258
    stanley2
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    And in AS YOU LIKE IT, Touchstone and young William are rival suitors of Audrey. The clownish fool threatens the life of William(Act 5, scene 1). In MV, the clownish fool says to Jessica: "so now I speak my agitation of the matter"(MV3.5.4). Professor Drakakis glosses "agitation:" " A possible malapropism, since the clown appears to substitute agitation for cogitation(Ecclesiastes, quoted in Furness, 182); but agitation neatly combines the sense of 'reflection' (OED 1: 'cogitation') and anxiety or perturbation(OED 4: 'agitation') both on Jessica's predicament and on her behalf." I tried to count the number of times he cites the Oxford English Dictionary(more than 700?), but here, I think, it is clear that Shakespeare is interested in the question of comedy vs. tragedy as topic. Scholars note that King Lear comments on the topic of adultery and the subject is central in OTHELLO. Therefore, it is also an implied subject here. Paris says to Romeo: "Can vengeance be pursued further than death? / Condemned villain, I do apprehend thee. / Obey and go with me, for thou must die"(ROMEO5.3.55-7). Romeo replies: "I must indeed, and therefore came I hither." This is the context in which MV was first performed.
    Last edited by stanley2; 01-10-2021 at 08:17 AM.

  4. #259
    stanley2
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    If Sen. Graham and V.P. Pence are trustworthy, President Trump was playing the clownish fool after Shakespeare Wednesday. Did he not say "everybody knows" and then pause enough to allow us to sing " a turkey and some mistletow?" When Trump first suggested that the election was stolen, we patiently waited for more information. Given that Sen. Cruz said merely that the subject of fraud is a real concern, we can only conclude that the President has no more information. When I turned on the TV Wednesday afternoon, I was reminded of the storming of the Bastille in the French Revolution. Others will say it rather recalls the "first we'll kill all the lawyers" character . So, back to MV, in 1986, Professor Bloom wrote: " I know of no legitimate way in which THE MERCHANT OF VENICE ought to be regarded as other than an anti-semitic text agreeing in this with E.E. Stoll as against Harold Goddard, my favorite critic of Shakespeare." Of course, he later added that some of his students are very unhappy when he says this. And Rosalind says to Touchstone; "Peace, you dull fool, I found them on a tree."(AYL3.2.112). When Bassanio stands between Shylock and Antonio in the court, we will recall his "So may the outward shows be least themselves"(MV3.2.75). Drakakis and Bevington gloss the above: "external appearances or displays that may lead to deception(OED sb. 2 and 3b)" and " least represent the inner reality." Therefore, as Shylock stands before him, knife in hand, Bassanio must be prepared to both defend Antonio and disarm Shylock. And thus, we are left with the questions regarding the inner reality of Shylock and Antonio. One answer is that
    Shylock and Antonio are grieving the loss of Leah. The last lines in KING LEAR tell us that this is the best answer.
    Last edited by stanley2; 01-10-2021 at 08:18 AM.

  5. #260
    stanley2
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    In baseball, there is a phrase known as "fielder's choice." One might then regard Gratiano's "O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog"(MV4.1.127) as an editor's choice as some editor's prefer "inexorable" to "inexecrable." In my copy of CLIFF'S NOTES, we find the former without a definition. If one then looks in MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S DELUXE DICTIONARY, where we would expect to find "inexecrable," we instead find "inexhaustible." The first words regarding meaning are "not exhaustible." Therefore it is reasonable to define "inexecrable" to mean "not detestable." Professor Drakakis tells us that in the OED we find "inexecrable" is " used as an intensifier of 'execrable.'" All of this is reasonable. As I have documented, the author plainly has in mind Romeo's use of "inexorable" from the conclusion of R&J. Therefore there is no easy answer regarding both the "editor's choice" and the subject of this thread.

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