Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Antonio and *MV*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0759.  Sunday, 8 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Oct 1995 09:49:43 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 06 Oct 1995 13:27:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 06 Oct 1995 13:43:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(4)     From:   Michael Saenger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Oct 1995 22:25:05 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(5)     From:   John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 07 Oct 1995 12:46:05 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Oct 1995 09:49:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Greetings all!
 
Bill Godshalk writes something about Shylock that surprised me: "Shylock has
not responded well to the diaspora and to living with mean-minded Christians
who force him to wear gaberdine and to make a living doing essential business
(i.e., banking) that the Christians find objectionable."
 
What caused my eyebrow to lift was the idea that the gaberdine was an enforced
uniform for Jews a la the yellow armband with the Star of David the Nazis
forced Jews to wear.  I've actually done some looking around about this whole
"gaberdine" line, and it seemed to be one of the only loci for complete
critical consensus and bafflement.  It's a crux when juxtaposed with "which is
the merchant here and which the Jew?"
 
Furthermore, Shylock seems quite defensive of his "Jewish gaberdine" which also
seems to grate slightly against the idea that it was enforced.
 
Now, let me be clear, especially since people have seemed quite sensitive on
this list lately:  Bill, I'm *not* jumping down your throat here.  I am,
however, intensely curious as to how you came to the idea that the gaberdine
was enforced.  Can you please enlighten me?
 
On a slight tangent, John Gillies exceptionally intelligent SHAKESPEARE AND THE
GEOGRAPHY  of difference points out not only that Shylock and Antonio are more
alike than differing, financially-speaking, when both are compared with Portia
but also that the only other person to wear a gaberdine in Shakespeare is
Caliban.
 
All the best,
Bradley Berens
Dept. of English
U.C. Berkeley
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 06 Oct 1995 13:27:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
>      The Duke cannot deny the course of law;
>      For the commodity that strangers have
>      With us in Venice, if it be denied,
>      Will much impeach the justice of the state,
>      Since that the trade and profit of the city
>      Consisteth of all nations.
>
>. . .  the reason why the Duke cannot deny the course of law is that
>*it is the law.*  The law does not exist to promote "the trade and profit of
>the city."
>
>--Stanley Holberg
 
I'm not sure I agree with Stanley Holberg's reading of this passage.  It seems
to me that "commodity," "trade and profit" are intricately related to the
"course of law."  Why must the Duke follow the law?  Because if he doesn't his
actions "Will much impeach the justice of the state."  Yes.  But Antonio
implies that the justice of the state cannot be impeached because of economic ,
NOT ethical reasons.  Apprently, if Venice were not a trading center, the Duke
could abrogate the law.  That's the way I understand these lines.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 06 Oct 1995 13:43:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0756   Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
In response to Joseph Green, yes "plutocrat" is a loaded word, and that's why I
used it.  That's the way that I feel about Antonio.  (Although "plutocrat" is a
19th century word, "Plutocracy" was first used in the 17th.)
 
And regarding Shakespeare's audience, aren't we all one of Shakespeare's
audiences?
 
If we are talking about Shakespeare's original audiences (plural), I think they
would be mixed in their reaction to someone who takes interest.  Many of the
original audience (I gather) did take interest on loans.  I imagine these
interest takers might feel rather ambivalent about Antonio's condemnation of
interest.
 
Did Shakespeare ever lend money at interest?  How did Shakespeare the
businessman feel about making money?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Saenger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Oct 1995 22:25:05 -0400
Subject: 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
I have nothing against wrestling with the Merchant's Jewish stereotypes in the
modern age, but I also think it's helpful to remember the play's original
context.  Most important is the play's relationship to Marlowe's the Jew of
Malta.  Shakespeare took several of Marlowe's dramatically provocative plays
and did something like a rewrite, or a transformation. So Tamburlaine became
Henry V, Faustus became Macbeth, and so on. Marlowe was really a genius at
creating drama.  In fact Shakespeare's genius seems to lie more in poetry and
subtlety- when Shakespeare has no clear source play he often also has little
plot.  So let's take a look at Barabas, the Jew of Marlowe's play.  We find a
character who starts out sympathetic and becomes a horrid stereotype, one which
is difficult for any modern reader.  So if Shakespeare does anything to his
"source" he softens it, but we must remember that even a soft picture of a Jew
by Elizabethan minds will cause us to be offended.  If Shakespeare were writing
now he would never make any such offence.  I see in Shakespeare a profoundly
a-political playwright.  He borrowed the fundamental dramatic pattern of his
play from Marlowe, simply adding exquisite poetry. Perhaps Shakespeare's lack
of a strong interest in creating plots corresponds with his lack of interest in
politics, in taking sides. Perhaps he was simply a poetic dramatist.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 07 Oct 1995 12:46:05 +0100
Subject: Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        SHK 6.0756 Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Wow!
 
Bill Godshalk has REALLY been on the red wine!!  Maybe if the discourse about
"character" could be suspended, and replaced by a discourse which deals with
representations, we might get a little further.
 
It is interesting to see those of a liberal humanist persuasion (but whose
liberalism becomes a rather red-necked conservatism (and violently so) bending
over backwards to deny that The Merchant of Venice is, in very large part
manifestly anti-semeitic.
 
Have some valium on me Bill,
 
John Drakakis
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.