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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Tragic Hero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0826  Wednesday, 11 April 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 13:11:37 -0400
        Subj:   Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 10:53:57 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero

[3]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 13:08:51 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 17:07:37 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero

[5]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 14:48:49 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 13:11:37 -0400
Subject:        Tragic Hero

Cliff Stetner's most recent post is one of the best that I have read on
SHAKSPER in recent times.  I have one concept to add: When a dominant
culture defines those who are different in stereotypical terms that
stress inferiority and evilness, the effect is to create that exact
stereotype in those who are defined as "different." This is not so hard
to imagine.  If any of us were treated as Shylock has been for years,
and also knew that this treatment extended back throughout history, our
anger, hurt pride, and injured sense of self would make us act much like
he does in the play.  In short, the dominant culture picks its
"outsiders," defines their "inferiority," and then treats them in such a
way that the outsiders exhibit exactly the attitudes and actions that
confirm the initial stereotype.

That's why, for example, minorities, especially blacks, perform poorly
on the SAT even when they have received a quality education.  So much is
riding on that test (they have the weight of their whole people on their
back) that they can't perform well, and thus "confirm" the conclusion of
white bigots that blacks are "dumb."

I suggest that both MV and Othello explore the premise I've stated
above.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 10:53:57 -0700
Subject: 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0807 Re: Tragic Hero

In regards to Shylock as "tragic hero" (or not), Graham Bradshaw
inquires,

>Not for the first time, the fiercely Shylock-centred nature of this
>discussion makes me wonder what people think the rest of the play is
>doing.  The story of the bond comes from one source, pretty intact
>though changed.  Why did Shakespeare want to add the caskets, Portia's
>alien suitors, and the ring imbroglio?

I think that the answer might stem from the line where Portia resolutely
confuses the Jew and the Merchant in the trial scene.  The pattern of
gifts as claims and of love as expressed in money and exacted in blood
seems much wider than just Shylock, who serves perhaps as its
synecdoche.

Clifford adds:

>If Shakespeare had such an unmatched insight into
>human nature, could he have followed the Dr. Lopez case without
>remarking the persistent history of English anti-Semitic bigotry?  In a
>country from whom Jews had been banished for three centuries?

I like the notion that historical determinism isn't so one-sided.  I'd
also like to add that John Dover Wilson, some time ago, argued from the
surviving fragment of Sir Thomas More that Shakespeare seems to have
taken a rather sympathetic position towards aliens, and against
xenophobes.

Cheers,
Se

 

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