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.

  6. #261
    stanley2
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    In Professor Bate's introduction we find: "The representation of Shylock as monstrous villain has played a part in the appalling history of European anti-semitism. But such a representation necessarily occludes the subtler moments of Shakespeare's characterization. A ring is not only the device whereby Portia and Nerissa assert their moral and verbal superiority over their husbands, but also the means by which Shylock is humanized........'I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor'......" Bate does note other comedies by Shakespeare, but leaves it to us to note Professor Wilson's recommendation of comparison to ROMEO AND JULIET. One might then rank Marchette Chute's "The MERCHANT OF VENICE is a romantic comedy, but of a most unusual kind" as the best introduction.

  7. #262
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "The MERCHANT OF VENICE is a romantic comedy, but of a most unusual kind" I agree. At moments it is too dramatic for a comedy.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  8. #263
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    Simple answer: It's Venice as in Venezia, Italia, an almost mythical Roman Catholic City State where the English believed that money lending by Christians was against the law but permitted by Jews.
    Shylock couldn't be a Christian.

    For further read the appropriate parts of: https://library.ndsu.edu/ir/bitstrea...=1&isAllowed=y

  9. #264
    stanley2
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    Professor Bate also wrote: "Shakespeare often returned to a triangular structure of relationships in which close male friendship is placed at odds with desire for a woman. The pattern recurs not only in several of the plays but also as the implied narrative of the Sonnets." "I would be friends with you and have your love"(MV1.3.137), says Shylock. I think we have not yet noted indications that Shylock desires Portia. Romeo's last lines seem to be mostly spoken to Juliet, though he believes that she is dead. Of course she is alive, as is Portia. Shylock flatters Portia: "O wise young judge, how do I honor thee!"(MV4.1.228). It is also ironic: "O noble judge! O excellent young man!"(4.1.252). Gratiano follows Shylock's example: "O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!"(MV4.1.321). Earlier in the play, Morocco has said of Portia: "all the world desires her"(MV2.7.38). The above, then, is yet more proof.

  10. #265
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Gratiano follows Shylock's example: "O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!" Isnīt Gratiano being ironic here?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  11. #266
    stanley2
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    As writer C.J. Box might say: "maybe." We have yet another conundrum. In the first scene, Gratiano says: "Let me play the fool"(1.1.82). The intentions of the clownish fool are often uncertain: "Your 'if' is the only peacemaker; much virtue in 'if'"(AS YOU LIKE IT5.4.100). Gratiano seems to follow Bassanio's example: "You must not deny me. I must go with you to Belmont"(AYL2.2.161).

  12. #267
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Remember the wisdom of the Shakespearean fools!
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  13. #268
    stanley2
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    Gratiano's line: "Let me play the fool"(1.1.82), echos Nick Bottom: "An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too"(DREAM1.2.45) and "Let me play the lion too: I will roar that I will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar that I will make the duke say, 'Let him roar again, let him roar again.'"(DREAM1.2.64-6). Later, of course, the Duke will say: "I wonder if the lion be to speak"(DREAM5.1.157), and in response to Hippolyta's "This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard," "The best in this kind are but shadows,; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them"(DREAM5.1.216). This, then, contrasts with Hamlet's "purpose of playing" speech.

  14. #269
    stanley2
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    Hamlet's "purpose of playing" speech is early in Act 3, scene 2 of HAMLET. Returning to Professor Gross's suggestion, "Shylock is Shakespeare," we might note again Professor Bate's comment, "the collection called SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS stitches together multiple poems with very different origins and styles to make a single narrative. But this narrative should no more be read back literally into Shakespeare's life than should the narrative of that other lovely boy, Viola/Cesario." One might then return to the epilogue in THE TEMPEST. There we find the character Prospero speaking directly to the audience, yet one also may regard the speech, in part, as Shakespeare himself as Professor Greenblatt put it, peeking out from behind his mask.

  15. #270
    stanley2
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    The first lines in TWELFTH NIGHT are spoken by Orsino, whom Professor Bate tells us is "the conventional Elizabethan sonneteer." Therefore, one might suggest that the author is inviting us to compare Orsino to Antonio, who speaks the first lines in MV.

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