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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: April ::
Re: Jessica
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0367  Monday, 20 April 1998.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 19 Apr 1998 21:46:09 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Jessica

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Apr 1998 00:17:37 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0365  Re: Jessica


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Sunday, 19 Apr 1998 21:46:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Jessica

As I tried to suggest in an earlier post, there is a distinct
allegorical level in this particular play which involves the Protestant
Reformation in England.  The breaking of the thousand year bond with the
Roman Church was the source of profound anxiety among Elizabethan
Englishmen.

The fate of their souls had been secured by the authority of Peter who
got it straight from Jesus.  In order for the Reformation to be
successful, the people had to be convinced that the covenant of Abraham
that had passed from  the Jews to the Christians at the Resurrection had
now passed to the English, that they were now the "chosen people."

On the allegorical level of the play, Jessica represents that covenant
(Shylock as an Italian usurer is therefore the Popish Church with only a
genealogical relationship to Judaism). She is the daughter of a Jew, but
marries a Christian.

Her relationship to the Jew had been one of Law (i.e. covenant), but she
transgresses Law in the name of Love (i.e. Christianity).

Portia represents the passing of the covenant from another perspective.
In order for the English to inherit, they must choose aright, thus the
three caskets.

Shylock's ring is a symbol of grace.  Shylock attempts to lock it away
as a possession held by covenant, but Jessica gives it away freely in
the name of Love, replacing a Judeo-Catholic orientation to grace with a
new Protestant vision.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Apr 1998 00:17:37 -0400
Subject: 9.0365  Re: Jessica
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0365  Re: Jessica

Ben Schneider wrote:

>  Bassiano's giving away Portia's ring to pay back "the lawyer" is an
> analog of Jessica's giving away
> Leah's ring to buy a monkey.

I think I should resent that.  Larry Weiss
 

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