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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Who Chooseth Me
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0765  Wednesday, 28 April 1999.

[1]     From:   Ben Schneider <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Apr 1999 12:32:27 +0000
        Subj:   Who Chooseth

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Apr 1999 12:05:28 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0763 Re: Who Chooseth Me


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Apr 1999 12:32:27 +0000
Subject:        Who Chooseth

Thanks Ed Taft for your kind words.  You go on to say that Bassanio is
culpable for risking Antonio's life.  Exactly so, and feeling bad about
this is why he so quickly hands over Portia's ring.  As I said, nothing
in the world is more valuable than his friend.
It's Damon and Pythias all over again.

When you use a Stoic lens, lots of stuff in Shakespeare shines through
the murk of ages.

Yours ever.
BEN SCHNEIDER

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Apr 1999 12:05:28 +0000
Subject: 10.0763 Re: Who Chooseth Me
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0763 Re: Who Chooseth Me

David Evett writes:

>But if Antonio will die of this one the "revenge" is
>incommensurate with the initial insult, unless Shylock inhabits a
>culture in which spitting on somebody's robe and the unfair commercial
>practice of lending money without interest are capital crimes.

You're right, of course, it is incommensurate, though it seems rather
characteristic of self-righteousness as an emotion to indulge a sense of
revenge out of all proportion to the crime.  Being a victim tends to
equip one with an unshakable sense of moral superiority, enough to
justify the most hideous acts.  We could think of how Germany's defeat
and impoverishment in 1919 led to its quite self-conscious racial
superiority in 1939.  Or how the Holocaust can be used to justify even
the worst excesses of Zionism.  Or how centuries of being freedom
fighters against much larger powers convinces the Serbs that it's okay
to shoot Kosovars and dump them in mass graves.

Frank Whigham writes:

>I certainly think that the idea of "being in it just for the money" is,
>on our own tongues, usually a reductive and impoverished notion (as is
>equally, in my view, an unqualified "doing it [simply] for love").

I really enjoyed your post.  It seems to me that we could subsume both
the "money" economy and the "love" economy under a more general
term-like quid pro quo exchange, or "economy." The opposite, a truly
gratuitous generosity or surrender, seems to be twice offered only to be
rejected or revised:  first when Portia tells Bassanio that all she has
is his, then ends the play on the exchange of rings; second, when her
"quality of mercy" speech gives way to Shylock's bond, and his eventual
punishment at the hands of the Christian characters.

Cheers,
Se

 

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