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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: January ::
Re: *MV*, Especially Act V
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0037. Friday, 20 January, 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Suba Subbaro <
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        Date:   Thursday,  19 Jan 95 07:55:46 EST
        Subj:   MV Spinoffs
 
(2)     From:   Stephen Schultz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jan 95 11:27:25 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0033  Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
(3)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 11:51:34 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies
 
(4)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 13:14:51 +0001 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
(5)     From:   Louis Scheeder <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 14:44:37 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
(6)     From:   Daniel M Larner <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 17:24:43 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Suba Subbaro <
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Date:           Thursday,  19 Jan 95 07:55:46 EST
Subject:        MV Spinoffs
 
Pardon me if these questions have been asked before--I am a relative newcomer
to this list.  Is Arnold Wesker's "Merchant" a MV spinoff?  Also, I've heard
that the cult movie, "My Own Private Idaho" is loosely based on MV.  Is it?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Schultz <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jan 95 11:27:25 EST
Subject: 6.0033  Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0033  Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
On ways to handle Act V of _MofV_:  One of Irving's biographers says that Sir
Henry regularly cut the fifth act as anticlimactic.  When some critic had the
temerity to attack this excision, Irving restored the act in a spirit of
experiment.  But he excised it again upon discovering that it (added onto the
pauses for scene changes at the Lyceum) made the play so long that audience
members couldn't catch public transportation after the show.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 11:51:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies
 
John Owen has a point--yet one of my favorite idiosyncrasies of Act 5 is that
the "charming duet" between Jessica and Lorenzo that begins the act invokes
famous examples of romantic disasters...Troilus and Cressida, Pyramus and
Thisbe, Dido and Aneas...and finally, Medea and Jason! That the Medea reference
is used to segue into Jessica and Lorenzo's tale is maybe telling--another
betrayal of a father, rejection of home and "nation," infatuated elopement,
ending in romantic treachery, rejection, loss, bitterness, and grief...
 
I am teaching this play for the first time next week--so this discussion is
proving both provocative and timely!
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 13:14:51 +0001 (EST)
Subject: 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
Re John Owen's remarks on the "happy ending" of Jessica's romance:  why is it
inconceivable that Jessica might be happy with her Lorenzo, and that she might
at the same time register the fact that no one else (except for Launcelot)
finds her worth talking to?  Wouldn't that muddy the happiness of her marriage,
to find that marriage to a Christian doesn't make her acceptable to other
Christians, and that perhaps revange on her father is not as sweet as she
thought it might be, when only she was the revenger? The kind of revenge that
the others are enjoying might simply remind her of her own Jewishness, her own
otherness, and might well make her as melancholy as Antonio.
 
Helen Ostovich
McMaster University
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Scheeder <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 14:44:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
Re:  John Owen's comment that in the final act of MV, wherein Jessica and
Lorenzo "tease and joke in a familiar way", I would suggest that such a way is
not the only way the scene can be played.  It can also be played for great
conflict - as a real fight.  He has married her for the money, and now the
money's gone.  They seem to be living on Portia's largess, and the servants
don't seem to much like Jessica.  Life is not what they thought it might be.
 
Louis Scheeder

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(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel M Larner <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jan 1995 17:24:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0033 Re: *MV*: Inconsistencies and Miller's
 
I think John Owen misses the point of the isolated Jessica at the end of
Jonathan Miller's MV.  She has stopped, on her way to bed with Lorenzo (with
whom she has just been flirting and teasing), seeing in her hand the judgment
on Shylock awarding her his forfeit properties.  The irony and pain of this
moment, and of her discovery that she will prosper on the back of her father's
loss, is intensified by (not inconsistent with) the teasing scene with Lorenzo.
 I found this a brilliant directorial move, and a terribly moving movement
which pierced the smug self-satisfaction of the play's ending in a way that
seemed appropriate and contained within it.
 
When I saw it at the Old Vic, the intensity of the experience was doubled
because Olivier was ill and had announced his retirement.  This was one of his
last performances, and everyone was hoping for him, praying for him, as if (who
knew?) there were a real chance he might die in the middle of the performance.
His manic energy as Shylock, coupled with his apparent (and rumored)
decrepitude, made his performance look like something of a miracle, which his
very alive appearance for many curtain calls confirmed.
 
Daniel Larner
Fairhaven College
Western Washington University
 

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