1995

Re: Conversation; Universal; Importance; Salvini;

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0757.  Friday, 6 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   James Schaefer <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 12:53:34 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:16:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
 
(3)     From:   Robert Appelbaum <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 6 Oct 1995 00:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Importance of Shakespeare
 
(4)     From:   John Mucci <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 22:32:47 -0400
        Subj:   Fwd: Salvini;Sleepwalking
 
(5)     From:   Peter C. Herman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 21:52:20 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 12:53:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
To Amy Hughes:
 
All drama is an imitation of a conversation, and one of the things that
differentiates a mediocre a good-or-better playwright from a mediocre one is
the ability to make us believe that we are overhearing a "natural"
conversation.  If two characters are together at the very beginning of a scene
-- as opposed to meeting each other onstage, having come from separate
locations -- our belief is increased if we get the feeling that they have
already been talking before we discover them _in medias res_.  Thus, in
*Hamlet*, Polonius and Reynoldo, II.i:
 
        Pol.    Give him this money and these notes, Reynoldo.
        Rey.    I will, my Lord.
 
Reynoldo doesn't ask, "Who, my Lord?" -- although we do -- because they are
already in the middle of this conversation.  *AYLI* opens similarly in
mid-stride:  "As I remember it, Adam...."  Orlando and Adam need no
preliminaries; the old retainer has been listening patiently to the dispossed
son's complaints for some time.  This technique fosters the feeling that the
stage's world is one that is continuously alive. Plays in which each scene
starts like a first-year foreign language primer's conversation -- Hi!.  Hello.
 My name is .... -- really drag.
 
Unlike passing conversations heard in real-life restaurants and subway cars,
the playwright usually doesn't leave us in the dark about the presumbed earlier
information:  we learn who/what/when/where, and especially why,  From the later
dialogue, gradually filling in the past as we go, just as we come to know
people with whom we talk in real life.
 
Jim Schaefer
 
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From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:16:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
 
I think Erika Lin is essentially correct in her believe that the human animal,
like any other animal, may be described in general.  "Culture" -- whatever that
is -- has not transformed us into non-animals.
 
But each "culture" wants "recognition."  (I share K, Anthony Appiah's
skepticism about the entities that now demand to be called  "cultures.") And
the concept of general human/animal traits seems, to some people, to stand in
the way of recognition.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Appelbaum <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 6 Oct 1995 00:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Importance of Shakespeare
 
I don't want it to seem like Marcello Cappuzzo and I are ganging up on a fellow
SHAKSPERian.  As Marcello might say, it's the idea that we are arguing against.
 In any case Marcello has already made a remarkably strong case, I believe,
against the implications of the idea that English somehow DESERVES to be
dominant language in the world, and that Shakespeare is largely responsible for
the language's morally privileged position.  I only want to make two smaller
points:
 
1.  It *does* matter that several generations were skipped before Shakespeare
became absorbed into English culture.  History matters.  In the present case it
matters partly because it was just while Shakespearean texts were more or less
in hiding, part of an academic and theatrical subculture which formed only a
small part of English life as a whole, that modern English became standardized
and codified in its present form.  The language we speak and write, today, now,
developed without much input from the Bard.  To see my point, think about what
it would take to rewrite this paragraph in the language of Defoe or Dr.
Johnson;  then think about what it would take to rewrite it in the language of
an Elizabethan.  I am using words here that would be foreign perhaps to Johnson
and Shakespeare alike -- "subculture," "input,"  "codified."  And my periods
are comparatively brief.  But I think it is clear that my syntax and diction
are considerably closer to Johnson's then to Shakespeare's, and most of you
would think there was something wrong with me if they weren't. Something
happened between 1620 and 1710 to make English English in its present form; but
what happened wasn't the dissemination of the Shakespearean canon.
 
2.  It follows from this, or is implied in this, that we do NOT now speak or
write the language of Shakespeare.  Nor, in general, do the people of Ireland,
South Africa, or Jamaica.  So what, finally, is the point of claiming that
Shakespeare somehow invented our language?  This is the issue, it seems to me,
that Marcello Cappuzzo is addressing.  And it is the issue that the Bardolaters
among us are refusing to address -- apparently because it is more "refreshing,"
as someone remarked, to mystify history than to come to terms with it.
 
Robert Appelbaum
UC Berkeley
 
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From:           John Mucci <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 22:32:47 -0400
Subject:        Fwd: Salvini;Sleepwalking
 
To me,Salvini is way off the mark when he suspects that the LM sleepwalking
scene was originally assigned to M himself and then later reassigned to LM.
 
My feelings are that LM pushes her husband because she loves him and
understands and shares his ambitions.  She is his strength when he is weak. But
she shows the first signs of weakness when after seeing the murdered men she
declares her heart "so white".  So begins her journey that ends when she takes
her life.  Consciencely, she maintains a hard exterior but underneath she is
cracking.  With each crack underneath she presents an even harder outside.  She
is no longer able to admit to herself or anyone else how deeply her misgiving
plague her.
 
So how does the playwright show us this?  One way is to put into a state where
she cannot control the way she presents herself.  Many playwrights use
drunkedness for this purpose.  In this case it is in sleepwalking that the
truth is revealed to the audience.
 
In the way of metaphor, the next the audience hears of LM she is dead.  taken
her own life, unable to continue living with the life that was only a dream at
the beginning of the play.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter C. Herman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 21:52:20 -0400
Subject: 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
 
Thanks very much to everyone who responded.  The comments were all very useful,
and I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my query.
 
Yours,
Peter C. Herman

Re: Antonio and *MV*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0756.  Friday, 6 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 14:07:32 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 16:25:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   Stanley Holberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:56:09 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Antonio et al
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 14:07:32 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Bill Godshalk asks how "we" would feel if we were spat upon and treated rudely
by a plutocrat.  The question seems odd. If it is an attempt to direct us to
place ourselves within Shylock's perspective, it seems beside the point.  We
know how Shylock feels.  If the question has other purposes, then it seems
equally beside the point.  Isn't the question a question of how Shakespeare's
audience might feel?  They might, first of all, not see Antonio as a plutocrat
-- the word is loaded with a lot of modern connotations.  They might see him,
instead, as a generous merchant of the sort the myth of Venice might lead them
to imagine, of the sort Antonio's actions might suggest. In the same way, they
might think of Shylock as a usurer and a despised Jew -- someone who deserves
Antonio's contempt. Maybe Shakespeare attempts to modify this attitude, but it
seems that, if we are trying to understand the play, loaded and anachronistic
words such as "plutocrat" are not helpful and assume what is to be proved.
 
But concepts such as "usury" are very much to the point.  Antonio enters and
Shylock says:
 
"If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him"
 
I don't find it credible that the audience would not have recognized Shylock as
a usurer.  He was not just a "banker."  Audiences would also understand (how
could they not) that Antonio "Lends out money gratis."  Shylock:
 
"How like a fawning publican he looks,
I hate him for he is a Christian;
But more, for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us at Venice."
 
This is an aside, of course, and is to be believed.  It seems impossible to
conclude from this that Shylock is just a "banker" and that Antonio is a
"plutocrat."
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 16:25:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0753  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Okay!  Years ago, as I remember, I told one of my students, "Shylock is not the
nice Jewish man who runs the candy store down the street."  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.  He has himself become
as mean-minded as the Christians. (How would you like to be addressed as "Jew,"
the old J word?)
 
My basic point is that Shylock is not unmotivated in his hatred of Christians.
If he has become suspicious, vengeful, angry, and so on, he has just cause.
Were I living next to Antonio (would he really live next door to me?), I would
have beat him up long ago, i.e., after the first time he spit on me.
 
Yours, Violent Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley Holberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:56:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Antonio et al
 
It seems to me that Antonio's lines at the end of III.iii reveal something
interesting about him and about the world in which he and Shylock operate:
 
      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.
 
But the fact is, 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
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs; Importance of Shakespeare

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0754.  Thursday, 5 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Mike LoMonico <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 15:40:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: WordCruncher
 
(2)     From:   Roger D. Gross <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 16:10:48 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   cd-roms
 
(3)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 02:33:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike LoMonico <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 15:40:55 -0400
Subject:        Re: WordCruncher
 
Just a correction to Giorgianna Zeigler's comments about WordCruncher.
The new address is:
                        Box 6627
                        Bloomington, IN  47407
 
Phone : 812-339-9996
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 16:10:48 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        cd-roms
 
For my interests, the most useful cd-rom is the one called Shakespeare Database
CD-ROM.  It was created and is distributed by the Shakespeare-language gang at
Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat in Munster, Germany (excuse my lack of
diacritical marks).
 
They say it "makes available the structured totality of texts and grammar and
various other literary, linguistic, and lexicographical perspectives necessary
for complete interaction with the Shakespeare corpus.  Most of the database
information is based on original research undertaken [at that University]."
The access modes provided on this cd-rom go far beyond anything I have seen
before.  This is a big-league scholarly tool.
 
Fortunately, the basic text is the Riverside Shakespeare.
 
Unfortunately, the disc costs about $900.  !!!
 
If you want to know more about this disc, call up the makers' home page:
       http://ves101.unimuenster.de/www/shadcd.html
 
They provide a thorough description of the system, info on the makers, a
bibliography of studies based on their work, etcetera.
 
Among the prestigious list of makers are Marvin Spevack (of concordance fame),
H. Joachim Neuhaus, and Peter Kollenbrandt.
 
I would like to second the recommendation of Wordcruncher.  I have been using
it for six years now.  It works beautifully with that company's indexed version
of the Riverside Shakespeare.  It has simplified and speeded up all of my
language and verse studies and has made it possible for me to find things which
were "invisible" before.
 
Roger Gross
Univ. of Arkansas
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 02:33:52 +0100
Subject:        Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
        "I regret that my choice of example of what our culture would be like
        without Shakespeare offended Professor Capuzzo [Cappuzzo]."
                                Stephanie Hughes, Oct 4
 
Ms Hughes' opinions do not offend me at all.  I just object to them, while
trying to express mine.
 
I hate to quote myself, but in this case I cannot do otherwise.  In my note of
Sept 30 I wrote:
 
        "What I objected, and still object to is the idea -- somehow present,
        I suspect, in Ms Hughes' interventions, in both of them [Sept 8 and
        26] -- that the English language is of a superior, a-historical,
        metaphysical, divine nature, and that therefore this language *and*
        (necessarily) the culture of which this language is the 'medium' have
        a superior role, a *mission* to perform in the world at large.  For
        this idea and for its various implications I have no respect, nor do
        I think I have to show any.  However, since my mother tongue is not
        English, and I cannot be sure that my way of reading Ms Hughes'
        'tone' is correct, I offer her my apologies."
 
In her posting of Oct 4, Ms Hughes wrote:
 
        "Certainly English imperialism was the major factor in spreading
        English around the globe, and then when that phase came to an end,
        the continuation of its use by the American influence after WWII.
        *Yet how much did the nature of the language have to do with the
        ability of the English and the Americans to spread their control in
        the first place?* I am not saying this out of chauvinistic pride,
        simply trying to examine the phenomenon with a measure of detachment."
        (My emphasis.)
 
[Yes, and how is it that today the English control nearly nothing?  Do they
speak Spanish now, or have they put WS aside?  Was it from WS that they derived
their "ability" to massacre entire populations in all five or six continents?
And what about the "ability" of the American government and military in
certain, well-known phases and episodes of the recent history of the U.S.?  Had
all those people specialized in WS and Early Modern English?]
 
       It seems that, notwithstanding the *fact* that my mother tongue is not
English, my tentative interpretation of Ms Hughes' opinions and 'tones' was
quite correct.  And, I repeat, for these opinions and for their various
implications (some of which are now slowly surfacing) I have no respect -- how
can I have or show respect for Ms Hughes' suggestion that behind a bigger gun
there is necessarily a linguistically and culturally bigger man!?  Opinions of
this nature do not offend me:  they offend the very culture that Ms Hughes
pretends to represent.
 
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo

Universal Human Experience (was Qs: Food Imagery)

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0755.  Thursday, 5 October 1995.
 
From:           Erika Lin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 09:32:03 -0700
Subject:        Re: universal human experience (was Qs:  Food Imagery)
 
In his posting on Sep 28, Roland Nipps makes the following request:
 
|I am presently working on my graduate thesis at the University of Rhode Island.
|The work involves studying Shakespeare's use of food imagery in the
|Bollingbroke tetralogy. I hope to show how a study of this imagery compliments
|existing scholarship on how man, as a microcosm, reflects the communal
|ordering of human experience. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with
|relevant materials. Thank you, Roland Nipps.
 
The question he raises in my mind is what exactly he means by "communal
ordering of human experience."  What people generally mean by this is the
experience of (male) Western Europeans and Americans.  Unlike some New
Historicists, though, I would not make the blanket generalization that *all*
human experience is culturally-based.  Although I understand the sentiment,
since what American and British scholars in the past century or so have called
universal aspects of human experience (all humans want love, all humans need a
God or God-like figure to believe in) are decidedly Western characteristics, I
would still have to say that some universal characteristics of human nature do
exist.  They just may not be the same aspects as those proposed by Western
critics.  My reasoning is this: within the time frame we are talking
about--say, 5000 years or so-- biological evolution of the human species is
negligible, and, therefore, based on the fact that we are still the same animal
as we were 5000 years ago and that humans from different cultures can still
reproduce with each other (for the time period we generally look at) there must
be some aspects of human nature which are constant through that time.  However,
to determine what those universal aspects are, we would have to study Asian,
African, and Latin American cultures, not merely an array of Western European
ones.
 
Any thoughts on the matter?
 
Erika Lin
University of California at Berkeley
 
P.S. Thanks to everyone who helped out with my request a couple of months ago
regarding advice on PhD programs.  The application process is continuing, and
I'm indebted to all the postings on the subject I received.  Thanks again for
all your help.

Re: Antonio and *MV*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0753.  Thursday, 5 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 11:39:57 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 14:44:12 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 14:20:26 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0743  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(4)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 16:28:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0749  Antonio and *MV*
 
(5)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 17:07:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0749 Antonio and *MV*
 
(6)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 08:08:49 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 1995 11:39:57 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
The effort to turn Antoinio into a money -grubber seems perverse, yet typical.
There is no evidence in the play that this is so. We see, in the first act,
that he has taken the kind of risk that he will take again.  He initially
denies this to the courtiers -- and I still think that this is because they are
not quite the folks he wants to reveal himself to -- but he does reveal the
true nature of his actions to Bassanio and to the audience. The effort to
convict him of this and that pettiness seems so obviously of an age -- our age
-- that I would think that it would be suspect at once.  We have our doubts
about merchants and bankers and other fine cankers but there are no doubts
about Antonio in the play.
 
I contributed a brief note about some ideas/attitudes the audience might have
held about the Merchant Adventurers.  My point was that Antonio was not like
this.  If the audience had plenty of reasons to resent merchants, they have no
reasons to suspect that Antonio is like these merchants.  Suspicions are
overcome, for many reasons, including, of course, the fact that Antonio makes
the bargain he does.  He is lighting a candle in a naughty world etc.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 14:44:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
I'd like to respond to John Owen's comment about the "either/or"
VENICE---Granted, Owen is not the only one who argues that we can't accept both
Antonio as a hero and everyone else-- and it hardly matters "which side you're
on"--pro Christian or pro-Jew or pro-Portia 9as woman). I mean these debates
are getting tired (not just on the list either). There are some crittics who
seem to acknoweldge that it is not just an either/or debate-- and it seems this
MUST be the way to deal with this play in which Shakespeare is trying to put
certain conventions of tragedy into dialogue with certain conventions of
comedy-- The formal brilliance of this dialogue in the play is obviously still
maddening to those who demand a "moral"---chris stroffolino
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 14:20:26 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 6.0743  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0743  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
One more thing (from me) on *MV*: Bill Godshalk, whose frequent postings are
for me one of the delights of SHAKSPER, claims that "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."  It's hard not to agree with the first
two claims, but I must disagree with the last one.
 
Shylock obviously tries to undermine Antonio's business ventures. That's one of
his motives for insisting on the pound of flesh: "for were he [Antonio] out of
Venice I can make what merchandise I will"  (3.1.127-29).  That's the only
point I can think of where Shylock contemplates specific action against Antonio
and his business activities, but it fits with his attitude throughout the play
("I hate him for he is a Christian, / But more, for that in low simplicity / He
lends out money gratis, and brings down / The rate of usance here with us in
Venice. / If I can catch him once upon the hip [i.e., bring him down], / I will
feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him" [1.3.42-47]).
 
In pointing out what I think is a clear instance of Shylock's hostile behavior
toward Antonio, I don't mean to be taking a stand on whether this (or his
treatment of his daughter) is justified or on whether he's better or worse than
Antonio.  But even if you think Shylock is the hero of the play, totally
justified in everything he does, and as nice a person as you could possibly
expect him to be, you have to acknowledge that he's trying to improve his
business operation by killing Antonio.
 
Bruce Young
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 16:28:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0749  Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0749  Antonio and *MV*
 
John Owen seems to suggest that Shylock skins Antonio "alive in public," and
that Shylock is "a ruthless loan shark." As far as I can see neither assertion
is undoubtedly true.  Shylock doesn't get his pound of flesh, so we don't
really know if he would cut into Antonio's flesh.  Shylock is never called a
ruthless loan shark in the play, and all we know is that he lends money at
interest -- a banker's function.
 
But let's try to empathize with the revenger, Shylock, for a minute.  Let's
imagine that a privileged member of society -- one whom we cannot with impunity
oppose -- spits on us and kicks us recurrently, calls us names in the
marketplace (Riverside ed., 1.3.48-51, 111-118), promises to do it again
(130-135), and is a bigot to boot (48).  And further it appears that his
plutocrat wishes to put us out of business (44-45). How would we respond to
such treatment at the hands of a wealthy merchant who apparently has no sense
of civility?
 
I honestly do not think it was (or is) Shakespeare's obvious intention that the
audience admire Antonio unquestioningly.  I rarely find Shakespeare's
intentions obvious.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 1995 17:07:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0749 Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0749 Antonio and *MV*
 
Bruce Young suggests that *MV* would be "more interesting if we didn't turn all
the characters into self-seeking controllers."  But wouldn't a play in which
all the central characters were self-seeking controllers -- of different kinds
and types -- be filled with tension? I think a case could be (probably has
been) made that Antonio, Bassanio, Shylock, and Portia are all looking for some
kind of personal gain, and each of them tries -- in different ways -- to gain
control of situations that appear to be beyond his or her control. As Bruce
suggests, these characters are complicated, not all of a piece.  Portia's
struggle for control is far different from, say, Shylock's.
 
And I'm not convinced that there's a simple contrast between
venture/risk/hazard/openness/generosity and control/safety/enclosure/ hoarding
in the play.  For example, Portia begins the play "enclosed" in Belmont.  She
(apparently) has no control over her fate (but look at 1.2.95 where she talks
with Nerissa about controlling the choice of the Duke of Saxony's nephew). When
Portia comes to Venice, she comes in disguise (not openly), nor is she open
about her intentions. How much does Portia venture or hazard?  When she comes
as judge to the trial, she already has her legal trick in mind.
 
I think the apparent contrast seems less strong after a close consideration.
 
Yours,  Bill Godshalk
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 08:08:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0749  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
I applaud Bruce Young's comments on Shakespeare's magical ability to create
characters that are combinations of good and bad, attracting our interest with
the eternally tantalizing nature of the ambiguous. As for Portia's attraction
to Bassanio, surely he was a "hunk", as witness Antonio's attraction, so
powerful he was willing to risk everything, "hunkiness" being a quality not
transmitted explicitly through play texts, but here, certainly implicitly.
 
Stephanie Hughes

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