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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Merchant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2372  Wednesday, 17 October 2001

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Oct 2001 20:57:31 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2340 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 13:29:29 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2361 Rings around Merchant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Oct 2001 20:57:31 -0700
Subject: 12.2340 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2340 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant

Gabriel writes,

>Portia does not point out that "murder is illegal". She points out that
>if "an alien . . . by direct or indirect attempts" seeks to take the
>life of a citizen, he forfeits his wealth and is thrown on the Duke's
>mercy. This Venetian law is concerned quite specifically with the
>socio-ethnic statuses of the persons involved (alien and citizen), and
>the causal distance between the 'doer' and the 'done'. How terribly
>modern this Shakespeare is.

I can hardly disagree that this particular murder statute in culturally
inflected; however, it is hardly surprising that murder is illegal.
Even if we didn't have access to the statute, we ought still to suppose
that some such a statute would exist.  It is, perhaps, doubly strange
that, despite the clear fact that the relations of Venice with its
"aliens" is the subject of special laws, everyone up to this point
considers Shylock's demands to the court in terms of contractual law
alone.

By the way, now that you mention it, "indirect attempts" seems widely
open-ended.  It could, in principle, cover Shylock's normal business,
since he might have to foreclose on debtors and you take my life when
you do take the means whereby I live.

Cheers,
Se

 

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