Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: April ::
Re: Monkeys
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0298  Thursday, 2 April 1998.

[1]     From:   Pat Dolan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 06:46:24 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Gil Harris <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 08:03:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0292 Re: Anti-Semitism

[3]     From:   John Owen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 11:41:34 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism

[4]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 17:57:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 06:46:24 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism

Not only does Jessica trade the ring for a toy, in "Othello" that toy is
associated with lust. Iago says that it would be impossible for Cassio
and Desdemona to be so reckless that they could be caught in the act
even if they were "hot as monkeys" (3.3.408). This might have something
to do with a honeymoon and a deceived father/patriarchal owner's
despair.

Pat

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gil Harris <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 08:03:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0292 Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0292 Re: Anti-Semitism

Recent posts concerning early modern monkey lore have prompted me to
wonder: what is the provenance of the bizarre image of spinsters
"leading apes to hell," referred to by both Katherina in _Shrew_ and
Beatrice in _Much Ado_? Might this be in any way connected to the stage
direction in _Eastward Ho_? And might this image's associations provide
a potentially ironic vantage-point from which to assess Jessica, leading
ape(s) to Hell-mont?

Monkeying around,
Gil Harris

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Owen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 11:41:34 EST
Subject: 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism

Ed Taft writes,

>As for how this bit of information might affect the interpretation of
>the play: The turquoise ring is all that Shylock has left of Leah, and
>so it represents his wife (Sorry, Bill, the context makes it pretty
>clear who Leah is.).

There is absolutely nothing in the play to indicate that the ring is
"all Shylock has left of Leah". Out of curiosity, do we have any
particular Shakespearean scholar to blame for the wildly over romantic
tradition Ed follows here? I am only able to trace it back via
theatrical history, as in Henry Irving's messing about.

>By selling the ring for a monkey, Jessica repudiates her Jewishness and
>defines it as essentially subhuman.

Uh, no. By trading the ring for a monkey, Jessica shows herself to be a
silly girl on a spending spree. Shylock is horrified not by her lack of
respect for Leah, but by her careless waste of his possessions.

>She wants to fit in and will do whatever it takes to do so.

Unsupported.

>Her only saving grace is that she probably does not suspect that Shylock
>will ever find out what she has done. This play is about a ot of things, not
>just Jewishness, but Jewishness is one of the things it is about, and it does
 >no good to try to evade the issue.

Agreed. Jewishness is one of the things the play is about. But it does
no good to try to make Shylock into something he is not.

John Owen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 17:57:30 -0500
Subject: 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0292  Re: Anti-Semitism

Ed Taft writes:

> The turquoise ring is all that Shylock has left of Leah, and
>so it represents his wife (Sorry, Bill, the context makes it pretty
>clear who Leah is.). By selling the ring for a monkey, Jessica
>repudiates her Jewishness and defines it as essentially subhuman. She
>wants to fit in and will do whatever it takes to do so.

The immediate context is this: "It was my turkis, I had it of Leah when
I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys"
(3.1.121-23 Riverside 2). I see nothing here about wives.  As I read it,
Shylock is referring to a pre-marital lover. Shylock might have held the
ring more dear if he received it from the one didn't marry him!

As to the monkey on a chain, if we think of the 1617 "Integrae Naturae
speculunm. Artisque imago," in Robert Fludd's <italic>Utriusque cosmi
mioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica
historia</italic>, where God has Nature (Venus genetrix?) changed by the
right hand, and Nature has a monkey (Art) changed by the left,  we might
come to a different conclusion about Jessica's monkey and even Jessica.
Jessica becomes a symbol of great creating Nature who cannot be held
captive, but must overflow with generosity (as in Fludd's picture).  By
the way, I cite Fludd, but elemets of this picture come from earlier
artists, etc.  The monkey (Art) is controlled by Nature.  Fantastic?
You bet, but hardly as fantastic as seeing the purchase of a pet as a
rejection of Jewishness.  (I'm writing this with a cat on a lap.)

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.