Re: Shakespeare, Jews, and Anti-Semitism
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 115. Monday, 1 March 1993.
From: Jay L Halio <
Date: Monday, 1 Mar 1993 14:34:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0108 Shakespeare, Jews, and Anti-Semitism
Comment: Re: SHK 4.0108 Shakespeare, Jews, and Anti-Semitism
For John Dorenkamp:
You did not include the sonnets and poems in your tally, or references to
obvious Jewish figures, e.g. Judas Iscariot. I did all that for my Oxford
edition and found no references to Jews in the Sonnets at all, surely the
most "personal" of Shakespeare's writings. So I don't think the subject
quite obsessed him, and the most of the other allusions or references, as
you say, are mixed.
Derek Cohen has an essay on the whole issue in *SQ* (ca. 1980) and infers
from the specific references in *MV* that Shakespeare was an anti-Semite.
He makes a very cogent argument, e.g. by noting the number of times Shylock is
referred to not by name but as "Jew," but I still can't go quite the whole way
with him. Like the Ghost in *Hamlet,* Shylock seems to me an essentially
ambiguous figure. Can we let the arguments rest there?