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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Tragic Hero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0869  Tuesday, 17 April 2001

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Apr 2001 10:15:24 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0841 Re: Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Apr 2001 15:17:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0841 Re: Tragic Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Apr 2001 10:15:24 -0700
Subject: 12.0841 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0841 Re: Tragic Hero

There are a number of comments I'd like to make on this thread, so I
hope that everyone will be tolerant if I write an omnibus response.

Stephanie Hughes points out that:

>In considering Shakespeare's attitude towards Shylock and his purposes
>in dramatizing him as he did, it might be well to consider that the
>Protestant reformers regarded themselves to a great extent as the
>inheritors of the legacy of the original Jews of the Old Testament, a
>return to basics after the excesses of Rome.

This point is taken up by Thomas H. Luxon in an article online with
EMLS:   http://purl.oclc.org/emls/04-3/luxoshak.html   He does not,
however, develop this notion in the same direction that you do.

Brian Haylett observes that

>Bassanio categorically refuses to give Portia the ring - until Antonio
>asks him to, whereupon he promptly sends it to her. Portia categorically
>refuses to forgive Bassanio for parting with the ring - until Antonio
>asks her to, whereupon she promptly forgives.

And asks,

>Why should this be? Is Antonio learning something?

Perhaps he's just being co-opted, so as to stand for surety rather than
as a rival to Portia's love.

Gabriel Egan includes the following in a fascinating note on equity and
common law:

>Portia's plea for mercy is addressed to Shylock, it is not a
>plea to the bench to invoke equity, and she responds to his refusal with
>positive law (indeed, statutory criminal law). equity does not mean
>mercy, it means fairness.

I'm not sure if I understand this.  Is the plea not addressed to the
bench because equity would imply positive law, not mercy?

Finally, Judy Craig says that,

>As we have seen earlier, he had already gotten some other woman
>pregnant (I am away from my books and can't quote the exact lines), but
>we do know that Bassanio's chief motive in getting to know Portia at all
>was that she was a lady "richly left."

I think you might be confusing him with Lancelot Gobbo, who is accused
of getting up the negro's belly in 3.5.

>I think Shakespeare gives the "ring trick" to Portia at the end of the
>play to get back at Bassanio's shallowness, but I don't know if in the
>real world that trick would work.  Antonio's sadness seems to me to
>reflect his cold affectional life, perhaps in that he sacrificed a real
>family life based on truth to cheap sex and earning money.

I'm not sure how the two points are related, but I can't recall any
evidence from the play of Antonio having any sex at all.  In fact, his
celibacy might explain his sourness.

Thanks for the references to Paul, by the way.

Cheers,
Se

 

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