Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 129. Thursday, 4 March 1993.
Date: Thursday, 04 Mar 93 16:08:00 EST
Subject: 4.0115 Re: Shakespeare, Jews, and Anti-Semitism
Comment: Re: SHK 4.0115 Re: Shakespeare, Jews, and Anti-Semitism
Although, as Jay Halio points out, there are no explicit references to
Jews in the sonnets, I wonder about line 7 of sonnet 20:
"A man in hew all *Hews* in his controlling" ["Hews" is italicized]
Even without the (random?) italicization, it strikes me that there might
be a pun here, especially given the prevalence of "use" and usury as
themes in the sonnets. Booth suggests several possible meanings of
'hue' and a pun on "you." Give the typography of "Iew" in MOV, and at
least one use--"Marke Iew, O learned judge" (Hinman facs)--which suggests
a similar pun, it's tempting to speculate about visual or auditory puns on
you/Iew/ewe/hew or Iews/Hews/use/ewes in the sonnets.
The italicization is also interesting, although perhaps even more dangerous
as grounds for speculation. Authorial intent, of course, isn't the issue,
but I'm also unwilling to believe that italicization and capitalization are
utterly irrelevant at least as clues to some kind of perceived emphasis.
The most frequent use of italicization in the sonnets (based on a very rapid
scan) seems to be to highlight proper nouns, esp. from classical sources.
In the "will" sonnets, the most concentrated use of italics, although not
consistent, highlights a word which is both a proper noun and a fertile pun.
Having said this, I'm prepared to be jumped on and will have little to say
in my defense unless others have supporting ideas or evidence.