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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: January ::
Re: *MV*: Shylock and Moonlight Bank Scene
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0055. Saturday, 28 January, 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Shirley Kagan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Jan 1995 18:23:28 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0046 Re: *MV*: Act Five
 
(2)     From:   Ben Schneider <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Jan 1995 10:47:17 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   moonlight bank, MV 5
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shirley Kagan <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Jan 1995 18:23:28 -1000
Subject: 6.0046 Re: *MV*: Act Five
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0046 Re: *MV*: Act Five
 
In response to John Owens post that we should keep Shylock in perspective
because: "He fully intends to publicly skin a living human being in front of
his friends.. .Mutilation for the sheer pleasure of killing is absolutely
unforgivable, and Shylock should alienate any unbiased spectator here if not
for the idiotic antisemitism of some of the Christian characters".
 
It is true that mutilation for the sheer pleasure of killing is unforgivable,
but it is NOT true that this is Shylock's motivation.  On the contrary, his
desire for Antonio's pound of flesh is motivated not by some inexplicable
tendency to gore but by that same "idiotic antisemitism" that would probably
drive the sanest of us towards some pretty malicious feelings.  It is very
important that we see Shylock's bloodthirtiness in its proper context.  It is
specifically this context that causes so many of us to read him as "nasty" and
"unpleasant" but not as a villain.
 
Shirley Kagan
University of Hawaii at Manoa.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Jan 1995 10:47:17 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        moonlight bank, MV 5
 
The trouble with all of these nasty renditions of the moonlight bank scene is
that they ignore the way it ends.  Does one have to repeat that these aren't
real people but characters in a play?  Jessica admits, as the scene closes,
that she is sad, because music always makes her so.  Lorenzo tells her, that's
because she really appreciates it, her "spirits are attentive."  A person who
doesn't like music, he continues, is "fit for treasons, stratagems, and
spoils."  Shylock doesn't like music.  Belmont is full of music.  In context,
then, Jessica proves in this scene that, far from being an outcast, she is a
well-qualified member of Belmont society, and that, I would say, is the
function of the scene.  All these nasty renditions of act V only prove once
more that a director can make a play say anything he wants it to, and the
author be damned.  See Lawrence Danson, _The Harmony of MV_, and my article in
_Restoration_, aforementioned.
 
Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER
 

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