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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Re: Shylock's Property
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0380.  Thursday, 16 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Harvey Wheeler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 96 21:44:19 UT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0375  Q: Shylock's Property

(2)     From:   Jesus Cora <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 May 1996 13:19:08 UTC+0
        Subj:   SHK 7.0375  Q: Shylock's Property

(3)     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 May 1996 09:56:55 +0300
        Subj:   Reply: Shylock's Property


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harvey Wheeler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 96 21:44:19 UT
Subject: 7.0375  Q: Shylock's Property
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0375  Q: Shylock's Property

Daniel;

I'm sure from what you say that you know Coke (Penny Cyclopaedia) and Bacon
(three articles: Chudliegh's Case (vol 14, p. 155); Reading on the Statute of
Uses (vol 14, p.277) and Case of Revocation of Uses (vol 15, p. 78) - Spedding
et al._Works_.

Quote from the first paragraph of "Reading..."  (delivered at Grays Inn, Lent,
1600)

"...a law whereupon the inheritances of this realm are tossed at this day, as
upon a sea, in such sort that it is hard to say which bark will sink, and which
will get to the haven: that is to say, what assurances will stand good, and
what will not."

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jesus Cora <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 May 1996 13:19:08 UTC+0100
Subject: Q: Shylock's Property
Comment:        SHK 7.0375  Q: Shylock's Property

To me Antonio forfeits Shylock's penalty so that he is not destitute. Now, it
occurs to me that the revelation that his ships are safe and sound could be
interpreted as a sort of "providential reward" for his generosity and his
mercy, a proof, then, that Shakespeare shared this tennet of Christianity?

Yours,
J. Cora

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 May 1996 09:56:55 +0300
Subject:        Reply: Shylock's Property

To Daniel Lowenstein ,

Do you wish your question to be answered exactly as you termed it and with your
own sources or can it be answered by  what I believe are Shakespeare's terms
and their implications as I have characterized them in my listserv essay
"Shakespeare's Hebrew"? If the latter than accept that Portia's name stem in
Hebrew implies that she must elucidate, 'feret', (P and F are the same Hebrew
letter, peh) in the way of the Talmud. Shylock's condition is dealt with in
Hebrew law under the heading of 'Bailment'.  (Notice that the name sounds
almost the same as Belmont, where Portia dwells.) Of  three general categories,
that which suits Shylock's final condition is the 'sho'el' , borrower "and on
him is imposed the highest duty of care toward the owner of the article , since
the bailee (Shalish) has borrowed it for his own benefit. He is therefore
liable to make restitution in all cases of damage or death" (Menachem Elon,
"The Principles of Jewish Law", Encyclopedia Judaica, Jerusalem, pp. 256-262)
Since the dispensations of the sho'el does not apply to immovable chattels
Shylock must "record a gift / Here in the court, of all he dies possessed "
which is as Portia calls it "a deed of gift" and Shylock agrees "Send the deed
after me/ and I will sign it." As you say, the questions of  whose and which
duties and limitations apply to each of the three involved  has not always been
clear during the course of the play, so that there is truly a need of an
elucidator.

Concerning Antonio's destitution:  1. His "argosies" did not all sink, they are
simply late returning and indeed three of them "richly" come to port by the end
of the play. Before that he is hardly more at pecuniary risk than is his usual
condition. 2. His investment in Bassanio's future has also paid off. And those
debts can now be recalled not to mention the desire of Bassanio and Portia to
give him hospitality. 3. He does take money from Shylock. "To quit the fine for
one half of his goods,/ I am content. (IV, I, 376-381)  Were he too grasping
one would have to question his dislike of usury.

                          Florence Amit
 

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