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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Merchant as Psychodrama
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0161  Saturday, 30 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Catherine Loomis <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:25:16 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?

[2]     From:   Scott Oldenburg <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:31:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?

[3]     From:   Richard Regan <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 23:51:03 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Catherine Loomis <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:25:16 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?

One possibility your analysis over looks is that Antonio needs to give
up his infatuation with Bassanio before Bassanio and Portia can be each
other's surety.  Look at Antonio's "I once did lend my body for his
wealth / Which but for him that had your husband's ring / Had quite
miscarried" (5.1.249-51) where body-which-but(t)-husband's ring is a
mis-carriage of the heterosexuality Portia requires.  In sooth, he knows
not why he is so sad, or perhaps it's just, for a merchant, unspeakable.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Oldenburg <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:31:44 -0700
Subject: 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?

Brian Hylett wrote "There is a mystery about

>characters that both exist in their own right but also as manifestations
>of a conflict in the hero's psyche. Psychodrama (for want of a better
>name) is a sophisticated form of allegory, a form that Shakespeare
>obviously knew well. But he seems to have leapt outside his time to play
>out this soul-searching in realistic form - if Belmont is completely
>realistic."

Interesting reading!  However, rather than "psychodrama" might we be
observing a manifestation of transference-an unconscious assignment to
others of feelings and attitudes that were originally associated with
other important figures...parents, siblings, etc.?  Psychodrama, after
all, relies on transference to achieve its therapeutic end.

As most Shakespeareans will point out, Shakespeare could not have had
knowledge of Freud (or psychodrama).  He may, however, have observed the
phenomenon of transference in himself and others (examples in everyday
life are abundant).  The question is, whose transference? Shakespeare's?
the character's? or the critic's?

All the best,
Scott Oldenburg
SFSU

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 23:51:03 EST
Subject: 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0157 Is The Merchant a psychodrama?

I think Portia's "You shall not know by what strange accident I chanced
on this letter" is a metadrama joke, an extension of magic in AMND and a
look forward to Rosalind's manipulations and the entrance of Hymen in
AYLI.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University
 

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