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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Tragic Hero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0909  Monday, 23 April 2001

[1]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Sunday, 22 Apr 2001 16:10:57 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Sunday, 22 Apr 2001 17:23:23 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Sunday, 22 Apr 2001 16:10:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero

Judith Craig asked for opinions about Bassanio's relationship with
Antonio. Since I have just put another essay on my website I can give
her my opinion fully. The site is: www.tmov-caskets.com and that essay
is under "Caskets of Interpretation" where you then press a button for
"Casting out the Gold". I apologize for a few glitches in format that
must still be worked out. The part about Antonio and Bassanio is about
half way down.

Yours,
Florence Amit

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Sunday, 22 Apr 2001 17:23:23 -0700
Subject: 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0897 Re: Tragic Hero

Judith M. Craig writes:

>I just wanted to add that I rushed down to the local library to obtain
>the only remaining copy of Shakespeare's "Complete Works" that has
>survived stacks and stacks of movie rentals to supply the relevant
>quotation from 1.1 about Bassanio that I was lacking in my last post.
>It is also interesting in rereading Act 1 that Antonio seems to have
>been hardened by his acquisition of money fueled by his sexual
>ventures:  "My ventures are not in one bottom trusted" (1.1.47) and when
>asked by Solanio if he is "in love," he retorts, "Fie, fie!" (1.1.46).
>He seems bored by the whole process of becoming a powerful "player"
>using sex, most likely I believe with women, but maybe not exclusively
>so, to keep his juices going to make a large fortune.

None of this follows even reasonably.  There's no reason to think that
"bottom" even implies sex, much less indicates it.  Nor does Antonio's
dismissal of Solanio's claim that he's in love indicate (in itself) that
the dismissal is ironic.

>At any rate, Bassanio seems embarked upon a similar journey (perhaps
>explaining their mysterious "love" for each other):
>
>         'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
>         How much I have disabled mine estate
>         By something showing a more swelling port
>         Than my faint means would grant continuance;
>         Not do I now make moan to be abridg'd
>         From such a noble rate; but my chief care
>         Is to come fairly off from the great debts
>         Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
>         Hath left me gag'd.  To you, Antonio,
>         I owe the most, in money and in love;
>                                         (1.1.122-131)
>
>In other words, like the prodigal son, Bassanio has dissipated his
>estate with harlots (getting women pregnant as the "swelling port" (line
>123) connotes.

Again, this is hardly necessary.  If the "swelling port" is a pregnant
abdomen, then I would imagine that Bassanio wouldn't be showing them.

>Moreover, he seems to have used Antonio's lifestyle as
>his model: "To you, Antonio,/I owe the most, in money and in love" (line
>131).  Note the order of affection implied in line 131--money and then
>love.

This doesn't indicate that he's following Antonio's lifestyle, only that
he's borrowed money from him, and sees such borrowing as an act of
friendship.  And yes, there are treatments of Antonio as gay, but they
have a certain level of psychological theory behind them.

>I feel that, based on this reading, Portia's life with Bassanio will be
>frustrating at best-- she begins her marriage with a trick necessary to
>retrieve her wedding ring!  His affection is so shallow that he admits
>his motives right at the beginning of the play.

That said, a large number of marriages (Disraeli's, for instance)
started out as financial arrangements and became much more.

By the way, I enormously enjoyed Stevie Gamble's attempt to move the
discussion of the play back to philosophical issues.

Cheers,
Se

 

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