Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: August ::
Re: Interpreting Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0624.  Sunday, 25 August 1996.

(1)     From:   Michael Conner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 24 Aug 1996 21:48:03 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0618  Q; Interpreting Merchant of Venice

(2)     From:   Jacob Goldberg <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 24 Aug 1996 16:18:25 -0400
        Subj:   Interpreting Merchant of Venice


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Conner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 24 Aug 1996 21:48:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 7.0618  Q; Interpreting Merchant of Venice
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0618  Q; Interpreting Merchant of Venice

I always took Antonio to mean that his entire estate was not at risk because
his investments were so diversified, Tripolis, Indies, Mexico and England, that
it was extremely unlikely that he would be lose his entire fortune and that he
would easily be able to repay the bond.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacob Goldberg <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 24 Aug 1996 16:18:25 -0400
Subject:        Interpreting Merchant of Venice

Re: Interpreting Merchant of Venice (8/19/96): When expressing several comments
on Shakespeare and his Shylock (SHK 7.0428), I suggested a reason why
Shakespeare, needing, for the purpose of the story, to leave Antonio at
Shylock's mercy, made it quite clear, as Albert Messeldine points out, that
there should have been little financial reason for doing so: (1) he was a
wealthy merchant, (2) he was not only liked, he was *well-liked*, (3) all of
his wealth was not at sea, and (4) he had plenty of time to raise the 3000
ducats before D-Day (due date).

Shakespeare was being covertly critical of the Christian community of Venice.
When Antonio needed the money and had no ready cash, he sent Bassanio out to
see how good his (Antonio's ) credit was.  Bassanio was unable to find even one
Christian colleague of Antonio who would loan him the money!  Granted that such
a loan would have to be interest-free, but what of that?

And when Shylock agreed to the loan, he could legally have taken interest but
did not.  The insertion of the pound of flesh into the contract instead of an
interest rate was a means of humilating Antonio who found himself forced to
accept a favor from the Jew, that is, a loan without interest.  No one at this
time could envisage that (1) Antonio could lose ALL of his land-locked and
seaborne wealth and (2) not a single Christian would come to Antonio's aid if
he needed it.

Shakespeare did not have to surround Antonio with a city of Christians who were
unwilling to loan money to a fellow-Christian and who were unwilling to loan
(or give) the 3000 ducats to save the life of a fellow-Christian.  Why did
Shakespeare do it?

I think that Shakespeare, while catering to the religious (not racial)
anti-Semitism of the crowd by finally picturing Shylock as the murderous Jew,
made sure that the Jew acted. in the matter of the loan, as the Christians
should have done - and could have done.

The picture of the Christians in MV, with the possible exception of Portia, is
not a flattering one.  I don't think that Shakespeare intended it to be.

Jacob Goldberg
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.