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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Tragic Hero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1371  Tuesday, 5 June 2001

[1]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Monday, 04 Jun 2001 20:22:25 -0000
        Subj:   MOV - Jewels

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Jun 2001 23:32:02 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 12.1352 Re: Tragic Hero

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 04 Jun 2001 14:45:47 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1352 Re: Tragic Hero

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 04:12:20 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero becoming Satiric Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Jun 2001 20:22:25 -0000
Subject:        MOV - Jewels

I swim in shallower waters than the abyssal depths of the current MOV
correspondence but I do not think Shylock's primary wish is the death of
Jessica. It is, rather, her return to Judaism. "I would my daughter were
dead at my foot, AND THE JEWELS IN HER EAR:" as I understand it is a
reference to the requirement (?Statute of Venice) for Jewish ladies to
wear earrings as a mark of their faith (Jewish men being required to
wear yellow caps). So a gloss might be "Even if it meant her dead, I
would rather that she had remained in the faith."

There is an article about this  (? SQ/S.Survey/S.Studies) and a recent
RSC production very cleverly - if it was deliberate - had her with
earings, without earings, with a crucifix, without crucifix and finally
with earings again, as the play progressed.

I do not suggest this interpretation is absolute but offer it as a
trinket to the debate... which I hope will continue to sparkle.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Jun 2001 23:32:02 +0100
Subject: Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        SHK 12.1352 Re: Tragic Hero

I endorse Mike Jensen and Thomas Larque.

Florence Amit reminds me of Nelson putting the telescope to his blind
eye and saying: 'what ships? I see no ships'. Thomas Larque's posting
was among the most thorough, most patent, most courteous, best
researched, scholarly demolition job I have read on this web in months.
AS Mike Jensen so lucidly says, Ms Amit seems completely unable to face
the fact that,  yes, maybe Marlowe and Shakespeare were writing plays
that really and accurately reflected current attitudes to Jewish
communities in their midst.

This is not a play with hidden Jewish messages: how on earth could any
audience then or now be expected to spend scholarly time and effort
poring over Ms Amit's Byzantine hypotheses: Shylock is seen in the play
as unequivocal villain, rejected father, a victim of the most appalling
Christian bully-boy tactics, vengeful, calculating, jubilant in victory,
and relishing every chance of cutting Antonio's flesh - it is NOT a jest
bargain. The ingenuity of his revenge on the Christian community is no
work of impulse, but a carefully calculated plan, that even his own
friends warn him off! He is a thoroughly nasty piece of work - yes,
broken, maltreated etc, etc. Jewish or not, that callous, cold-blooded
gleeful vindictiveness, that sheer inhumanity alone would place him in
Elizabethan eyes right alongside almost pantomimic villains. He is
superbly theatrical - and in the first and last analysis, don't we have
to ask, does the wicked, flawed, mistreated Shylock work on stage? As a
producer, I believe it surely does. And Ms Amit's view is simply
anti-theatrical and one-eyed.

Is Ms Amit a closet crytographer for Mossad?

Stuart Manger

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Jun 2001 14:45:47 -0700
Subject: 12.1352 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1352 Re: Tragic Hero

Re: Ms. Amit's comment:

>The writer who pointed out to me that "The Merchant of Venice" was
>suppressed is Edna Krane, in her book, "Shylock and the King of England",
>Vantage, N.Y. 1996
>Krane's thesis is confirmed by my "Penguin" reference book 10/6,  F.E
>Halliday, "A Shakespeare Companion, 1564-1964." On page 312 Halliday gives
>the stage history of the play, which is that, "There is no recorded revival
>between 1605 and 1701."

May I point out that Vantage Press is a vanity publisher?  You pay them
to publish your book.  This does not make Ms. Krane's suggestion that
the book was suppressed wrong, but since her book was not peer reviewed,
and Ms. Krane's reason for this suggestion is not given, I want a surer
authority before accepting there is evidence of suppression.  Halliday
is not it, for he does not suggest the play was suppressed.  He just
says what has already been acknowledged, that it was off the boards for
a time, as many plays were.

>My supposition, with the view of how different
>Restoration drama was from the drama of Shakespeare, is that the restored
>play was not very much like what I think that Shakespeare designed. It has,
>little by little, become more tempered, although, if I take into account
>what I know of the theatrical presentations since that time, it has never
>come near to being what I believe it should be.

I'm not sure what this means.  IF Ms. Amit is trying to suggest that the
texts we have today are corrupted by Restoration rewriting, she is
mistaken.  There are copies of both 1600 quartos extant, so we at least
know what was printed at that time.  We also know that the First Folio
was based on the quarto text, though some corrections were made, and
more extensive stage directions added.  We have the word of
Shakespeare's co-workers that the plays in the folio "are now offer'd to
your view cur'd, and perfect of their limbes, and all the rest, absolute
in their numbers, as he (Shakespeare) conceived the'."  This has been
interpreted various ways, but it is a bit difficult to see Ms. Amit's
problem.

Roughly a year ago, Hardy, I think wisely, chose to ban the supposed
Hebrew origin of Shakespeare's names from this list.  All the Hebrew
rather came through the back door this time, and it is probably right
that he allowed it.  Ms. Amit does have a right to try to defend her
ideas, after all.  However, the same objections persist that got the
topic banned the first time.  I won't review the problems with believing
Shakespeare knew Hebrew.  They were well exercised about a year ago, and
are available in the archives.  I would like to condemn Ms. Amit in the
strongest terms possible for pulling the same trick now that she pulled
then.

Several list members, myself included, pointed out these problems, and
Ms.  Amit chose to ignore us.  We demonstrated the extreme unlikelihood
that Shakespeare knew Hebrew, and she did not address these problems.
She simply waited a couple of days, then reasserted her position.  At
the time I called this "passive aggressive scholarship," since it sought
to defeat opposing arguments by ignoring them.  Maybe you could call it
"getting the last word"?   There was such outrage by several list
members that Hardy acted, I think for the best.

I wrote a friendlier message, posted Tuesday, in hopes of encouraging
Ms. Amit to really engage the objections to her ideas this time.  I give
her credit for the little bit in her long message that does this.  It
saddens me that Ms. Amit continues to show contempt for members of this
list by continuing this passive aggressive approach with all her Hebrew
references.  It saddens me that she only indirectly engages so many of
Thomas L's points.

I have forwarded Ms. Amit's message to my neighbor, a rabbi with a Ph.D
in Hebrew.  He pointed out her Hebrew mistakes in the past.  If he has
time to look at her message, and if he finds other mistakes, I'll
forward them to the list.

>It is a great pity to me if I am thought of as being perverted from finding
>out the truth in literature no matter how bitter or complimentary.

Say what?

Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 04:12:20 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero becoming Satiric Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1300 Re: Tragic Hero becoming Satiric Hero

I just reread my post and besides some typos that I regret as a result
of haste, I failed to mention something essential regarding the act III
explication.  It is that the "monkey" exchanged for the Maternal "ring"
is Tybal's way of telling Shylock that he will have a grandchild - hence
Shylock's emotion and why his prayer.

Another thing about Tubal, that I have mentioned frequently, but maybe
not to this forum. It is that if Shylock was really the mad, revengeful
character that he plays to be, and that is believed by our theatrical
tradition, Tubal would not have stood for it. It would be exceedingly
dangerous for himself and all the Jews to have such a thing as a
killing. His compliance to Shylock's presence and plans indicates total
understanding of them. That they are not for real. Or is there anyone
that will say that still another Jew is as revengeful and rapacious as
Shylock? And then another and another?

Florence Amit
www.tmov-caskets.com

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