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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: February ::
Shakespeare and Anti-Semitism
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 83.  Tuesday, 16 February 1993.
 
From:           Kelly Caldwell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 93 00:01:02 EST
Subject:        Shakespeare & Anti-semitism
 
Somebody raised an interesting point re: anti-semitic Shakespeare in MofV.
It reminded me of an experience I had as an undergrad.  Certain unlucky members
of a class I was taking were asked to take sides in a debate re: Shylock in
MofV -- as soon as my prof saw me hiding behind my notebook, he enlisted me in
the "Poor Shylock" side.  Needless to say, consensus was that "our side" won.
 
There is a VERY strong case supporting the thesis that Shakespeare depicted
Shylock as the tragic hero/victim of the play.  Aside from the fact that I
"shy" away from making personal statements about authors (ie: the play is
racist; therefore, Bill was too!), IMHO Shylock's mistreatment by other
characters in the play whose racism is indisputable, is not praised or given
merit to any extent.  Let's face it, Shylock isn't the *only* unlikable
character in the work.  Rather a long way of saying that I think the "MofV is
an anti-semitic play, and Shakespeare was a racist" statements are the results
of over-simplification.
 
                I wonder what Bill would say?
 

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