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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Antonio and *MV*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0743.  Monday, 2 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Shirley Kagan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 14:10:17 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0738 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 01 Oct 1995 15:18:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Oct 1995 00:54:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shirley Kagan <
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Date:           Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 14:10:17 -1000
Subject: 6.0738 Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0738 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
In response to Bruce Young's post:
 
Is Antonio's money lending without usury really "generosity"?  There are
several indicators to suggest otherwise.  First, as has been pointed out
already, he is taking a huge risk borrowing from Shylock conidering all his
fortunes are at sea.  Why does he do this?  To impress Bassanio and continue to
cultivate their relationship.  Working from this point, it appears Antonio
wants to make friends with influential/important people, even at the risk of
great financial loss.  Even if he loses, he wins. That door is open to him, as
it most certainly NOT to Shylock within the context of the Venetian society.
So is his lending wiht no interest really generosity, or a shrewd tactical
social-climbing move?  Secondly, Antonio can afford to lend without interest
since he has another source of income.  Shylock does not.  Keeping these
factors in mind the idea of Shylock's controlling/closure vs. Antonio's
venturing/opnenness becomes a question of necessity vs. choice; incarceration
vs. freedom.
 
Shirley Kagan.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 01 Oct 1995 15:18:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Bruce Young is quite right: there is a different between Shylock and Antonio.
Shylock does not spit on Antonio, neither does he kick him. As far as we know,
Shylock does not try to undermine Antonio's business ventures. And the two make
their money in different ways.  But, since I've just finished Wm. Ingram's THE
BUSINESS OF PLAYING, I wouldn't think that a sixteenth century audience would
have seen money lending as "risk free." After reading Ingram, I am wondering
why any sixteenth century person would have lent money.  Debts seem rarely to
have been promptly and ungrudgingly paid in the world Ingram describes.
 
Bruce Young also brings up the issue of control, which is, of course, a big
issue in the play.  Portia is, according to my students, a "control freak."
Perhaps she does not control Bassanio's choice of caskets, but she does gain
control of Shylock, and she gets her husband's ring in order to control her
husband and Antonio.  Antonio tries to control Bassanio (1) by giving him
money, (2) by writing him that pathetic letter, and (3) by convincing him to
give his wedding ring away.
 
Both Portia's dead father and Shylock try to control their daughters, Portia's
father with the caskets, Shylock by direct command.  Obviously (?), the
playwright hints that we think about these two controlling fathers.  Is Portia
the dutifull daughter, Jessica the rebel?  Or do both daughters break free of
paternal control, Jessica leaving Venice, Portia Belmont? Both daughters dress
as boys or young men for their "escapes."
 
I'm not surely that Shylock is more controlling than the Christians.
 
All in all, I think Portia wins the control game.
 
Addendum: sixteenth century merchants did lend money, of course.  They "sold"
merchandise at a greatly inflated price to a person who wanted to borrow money.
 The borrower could then resell the merchandise (sometimes to the same
merchant) at the normal price. The borrower then had the money he wanted, and
he promised to pay the merchant the inflated price, say, in a year. This way
the merchant could get around the ceiling on loan interest. Did Antonio ever
lend money in this fashion?  Not in the playscript!
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Oct 1995 00:54:43 +0100
Subject: 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0738  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Antonio tells us about his polymorphic homosexuality:
 
ANT. My ventures are not in one bottom trusted (1.1.42)
 
Gabriel Egan
 

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