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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: *MV*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0798.  Tuesday, 17 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   David Jackson <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 95 10:20:24 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
(2)     From:   Stanley Hoberg <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 13:57:16 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   *MV*
 
(3)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 15:14:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Jackson <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 95 10:20:24 EST
Subject: 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Re: Leslie Harris' observations about Christian hypocrisy and money-lending
violating principles of Christian charity, let us not also forget that the
Christian powers-that-were in many parts of Europe barred Jews from many trades
and professions, conveniently leaving them limited to providing such services
as good Christians wouldn't do (but obviously needed someone to perform), such
as money-lending.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley Hoberg <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 13:57:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        *MV*
 
I think that the so-called "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech requires a closer look
than it is usually given by those who regard it as a bid for sympathy for
Shylock.  It is really a speech about revenge.  That is the subject with which
it begins and ends, and, on the whole, shows us Shylock at his worst.  He
starts out by justifying his desire for revenge against Antonio and then
launches into the "Hath not a Jew eyes?" passage.  After the question "If you
poison us, do we not die?" which ends the passage, we *expect* him to say
something to the effect "Why, then, do you not treat us as human beings?"  But
he doesn't He returns to the subject of revenge, now on a more general plane:
"If we are like you in the rest, we wil resemble you in that," and so on.  In
this way, Shakespeare undercuts what might have been a touching appeal for
sympathetic understanding by turning it into yet one more insight into
Shylock's inhumanity: unable to exper- ience fellow-feeling, he is incapable of
asking for it.  And to add a mordantly comic touch to the proceedings,
Shakespeare allows Shylock to waste the speech on two such lightheads as
Solanio and Salerio.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 15:14:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0784  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Shirley Kagan wrote:
 
>Let me try and get one thing clear first.  When this discussion first started
>(by Sam Schimek, I believe) the questions clearly referred to MOV in production
>and the implications of Antonio's characteristics IN PRODUCTION.  I have
>treated this discussion from beginning to end within that context and it is
>within that context that I speak of Antonio apologia and justifications of
>anti-semitism.  I couldn't care less if Shakespeare was anti-semitic within the
>context of this conversation.  The only element I am concerned about is how we
>read his problematic script in production TODAY as per the original post's
>request.
 
I wonder if we can see our quarrels over interpretation as really quarrels over
possible ways of staging *MV*.  It is possible, of course, to present Antonio
on stage as a Christian who learns charity from his experiences in the play.
When he demands Shylock's conversion in Act 4, he is geuinely concerned with
Shylock's soul.  Antonio has changed through his suffering; he is no longer
kicking and spitting on Shylock. He is now a good, concerned Christian.
 
Just as obviously, this is not the way the BBC presented the conversion of
Shylock.  Here it is presented as a violent act against Shylock's identity. The
cross is forced on Shylock, and he is summarily baptized.
 
It seems to me that either interpretation can will work on stage, but I prefer
the second.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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