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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Re: Chooseth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0981  Friday, 11 June 1999.

[1]     From:   Thomas Cartelli <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 1999 12:14:46 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0969 Re: Chooseth

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 1999 13:53:23 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0969 Re: Chooseth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Cartelli <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 1999 12:14:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.0969 Re: Chooseth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0969 Re: Chooseth

On Portia providing or not providing hints to Bassanio, I think Barbara
Palmer's representation of the DC production demonstrates that "keeping
one's word" in the world of this play means different things than it
does in the world of idealized understandings of Shakespeare.  Just as
in her "mercifixion" of Shylock, Portia shows she is a savvy Venetian
here who knows both how to get her way and to legitimize the getting of
it.  Does she 'cheat'?  Yes, she probably does but in the worldliest of
ways, demonstrating that she is very rich in the "virtues" of her world.

                        TC

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 1999 13:53:23 -0400
Subject: 10.0969 Re: Chooseth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0969 Re: Chooseth

Judith Craig wrote:
>
>>I would argue from the woman's point of view that Portia loves her
>>father and respects his judgment:
>
>Try doing a word study
>of the words forswear, lie, and their derivatives and synonyms sometime
>throughout the canon.  It is very instructive.
>
>This is why I am confident Portia does not tip off Bassanio as to which
>casket to chose.  It is inconsistent with her character through the rest
>of the play.  She absolutely believes [in] keeping [her] word, but also in
>forgiveness.

If "keeping her word" includes truth telling, I think this point of view
has a problem. In 3.4., Portia tells an out-and-out lie, claiming that
she's made a secret vow "To live in prayer and contemplation" until
Bassanio returns (28).  She then disguises herself as a man, pretends to
be a learned judge, and, as far as we can tell from the script, spends
no time in prayer and contemplation.

I think (because of 1.2.77-83, Norton ed.) that Portia would use certain
techniques to bypass her dad's will.  And, further, I believe (with
absolutely no evidence) that her father knew full well that she would
use his will to get the man she wanted.  Dad put the will in place to
save her from the miseries of enforced marriage.  Portia uses the will
and the test to reject the men she does not accept, and to accept the
man she wants.  That's the way it works.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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