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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: January ::
Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0033. Thursday, 19 January, 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Aaron Tornberg <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Jan 1995 10:56:24 -0500
        Subj:   Re: MV and inconsistencies
 
(2)     From:   John Owen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Jan 1995 12:06:54 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0025  Re: Miller *MV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Aaron Tornberg <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Jan 1995 10:56:24 -0500
Subject:        Re: MV and inconsistencies
 
Okay,
 
So I put the "Merchant of Venice" topic out there (again for most of you) and
received some very interesting responses.  I then retrieved the database and
read all I could from discussions 93-.
 
Now here's what I still haven't found regarding my original post.
 
Looking through MV I.iii.(71-95) there is a speech by Shylock about Jacob and
Laban and the sheep.  From what I know of Rennaissance England, The Bible had
great importance.  If this is the case, then why does Shakespeare quote half
the story withing MV?  The only conclusion I can arrive at is that the whole
story would have taken away from the anti-Semitic characterization of Shylock.
 
If Shakespeare is so textually incorrect with the Bible, then how can we trust
that his views are at all reliable when dealing with studies of Elizabethan
England?  After all, Riverside often indicates his misquotation of Holinshed or
at least misunderstanding. This bothers me because it is a blatant disregard
for any kind of accurate research.  This is from a man whose use of drama and
language is almost revered.
 
For those interested in responding, the Biblical passage in its entirety can be
found in Genesis 29 and continues for a number of chapters after.  I am
interested in continuing this discussion either on the question of accuracy in
general or withing MV with which I am particularly interested.
 
Aaron Tornberg,  York University,  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Owen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Jan 1995 12:06:54 -0800
Subject: 6.0025  Re: Miller *MV*
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0025  Re: Miller *MV*
 
The isolation of Jessica at the end of Miller's MV is unsettling (good) but
hardly in keeping with the play's tone (bad). How can we possibly follow the
charming duet between Lorenzo and Jessica, wherein they tease and joke in the
most loving and familiar manner, with the unwarranted implication of a
rejection of Jessica? They just don't match up. To all appearances, Jessica is
happily paired at the end of the play, and there is no reason to assume
otherwise. I remember seeing photographs of an Old Vic MV from the early 50's
with Paul Rogers as Shylock and Claire Bloom as Jessica, where the end staging
was much more effective. All the couples were paired off, and only Antonio was
left alone - he, indeed, is alone at the play's end, like Shylock (though not
ruined) and if a note of sadness must be added to Act V, it should be given to
the ever-melancholy title character.
 
The practice of revolving the production around Shylock, as if he were the
central character, is unfortunate. Since Henry Irving's scenery-chewing 19th
century performance, there has been a tendency to play Shylock up. Act V has
always meant trouble for this line of thinking, and some directors have
actually chosen to omit the final act altogether!! Miller's decision is the
next best thing - keep him present in spirit, to haunt the consciences of the
evil -- well everyone else, right?
 
Are there other ways to handle Act V?
 
John Owen
 

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