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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Leah and Merchant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2418  Tuesday, 23 October 2001

[1]     From:   Graham Bradshaw <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 02:32:38 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 00:03:11 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Bradshaw <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 02:32:38 +0900
Subject: 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant

While Jessica is being discussed, may I revive an issue which I raised
(gulp!) fifteen years ago, but which didn't then seem to interest
anybody else?  Shameless self-quotation: "In the period between the
signing of the bond and her own elopement Jessica had neither the time
nor the opportunity to overhear any conversation between her father and
his cronies. If we have attended to that time-scale which Shakespeare
took such pains to establish, Jessica must be lying." I hasten to add
that my real concern was and is with something odd in the text
(3.2.282-28), not with Jessica's honesty. What is that speech doing in
the play? And why does Jessica choose this moment to speak up in
Belmont, where she is generally ignored?

A different but (I thought) interesting matter was recently discussed by
Yoshihara Yukari. In the second (1885) Japanese adaptation of "Merchant"
("Sakuradoki Zeni-no yononaka": Life is as fragile as cherry blossoms in
a world of money), the lead casket becomes an iron casket, which the
Bassanio-figure chooses because iron is more useful than gold (or cherry
blossoms), e.g. when building railroads or modernizing Meiji Japan.

Collegially,
Graham Bradshaw

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 00:03:11 EDT
Subject: 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant

I can hardly be the first person to notice that Leah was the wife Jacob
(with whom Shylock has identified himself, in that otherwise odd and
awkward homily on how to make money) did NOT love, at least not in any
Pentateuchal version of the romantic way.  The episode in Genesis evokes
assorted Shakespearean resonances.  It's the locus biblicus for the bed
trick, as in AWW and MM ("When morning came, it was Leah" [NRSV Gen.
29.25]).  Closer to Mer, its core story, in which Jacob goes to seek one
of Laban's daughters as a wife not because they're lovable but because
by marrying one of them he can become rich, and then is lucky enough to
find love, too, is very like Bassanio's.

Genetically,
David Evett

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