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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: August ::
*MV* -- Q: Scholarly Opinion; Modern Writer
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0632.  Wednesday, 28 August 1996.

(1)     From:   Mason West <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Aug 1996 14:20:39 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0630  Re: *MV* and *Edward III*

(2)     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Aug 1996 10:13:10 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0627 Re: Merchant of Venice and Revenge; *Edward III*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mason West <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Aug 1996 14:20:39 +0000
Subject: 7.0630  Re: *MV* and *Edward III*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0630  Re: *MV* and *Edward III*

Hello --

The question of Shakespeare's attitude toward Shylock arises at a serendipitous
moment for me.

Kay J. Wade writes:

    I don't think Portia is meant to be an exception.  Recall
    that despite her lovely speech about mercy, it is she who
    insists on justice, justice, justice for the rest of the
    scene.  She says, "As thou urgest justice, be assured thou
    shalt have justice, more than thou desirest."   From then on
    the only time the word mercy crosses her lips is when she is
    making Shylock grovel.   As usual, Shakespeare leaves us to
    draw our own lessons...

We have recently agreed to disagree over the question of Shylock in a somewhat
hot-tempered debate in a literary list called Prufrock that I operate on the
Internet.

I defended Shakespeare, saying that his intentions were to shed light on the
prejudices of his times, but others argued that Shakespeare was unquestionably
an anti-Semitic bigot. I also argued that, were Shakespeare as aligned with the
officially sanctioned anti-Semitism of Elizabethan England as his detractors
claimed, he would not have needed to be so oblique.

I am curious about the range of opinions is in scholarly circles. According to
contemporary scholarship, is it foregone that Shakespeare (was/was not)
anti-Semitic or, for that matter, in reference to Othello (which I invoked to
defend my point), a racist?

-- Mason West

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 27 Aug 1996 10:13:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0627 Re: Merchant of Venice and Revenge; *Edward III*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0627 Re: Merchant of Venice and Revenge; *Edward III*

The modern writer to whom the Jewish people should be indebted may be Lessing
whose humane play "Nathan the Wise" promotes tolerance and understanding among
the world's three great religions.  I don't recall the exact date of the play,
but I believe it to be 18th century, second half.  David Richman
 

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