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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Belmont on the Brenta
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1029  Monday, 15 April 2002

[1]     From:   Anthony Burton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Apr 2002 23:47:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 09:54:12 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

[3]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 14:48:10 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

[4]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 14:55:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

[5]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Apr 2002 00:49:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Burton <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Apr 2002 23:47:06 -0400
Subject: 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

I don't see why Bill Godshalk should be troubled by chronological
objections to his own interesting proposal of the Brenta as the highway
to Belmont.  Think of the time required first, for Shylock to deliver
the loan, in specie not credit, and second, for Bassanio to prepare the
impressive show he thinks he needs to enter the Portia sweepstakes.  At
the very least, Bassanio would require new clothing for several days and
several functions (traveling, appearing for meals, for the Casket Test,
etc.) for him and a reasonable livery for his entourage.  Those things
don't come off the racks, but have to be ordered for the occasion,
measured and made, without sewing machines or computers.  Maybe the
fabric has to await a shipment from abroad as well.  Bassanio might have
been hard to please and Venice was a very posh place.

Then there is the matter of the other suitors.   The time sequence
doesn't trouble me, because I don't put much stock in the chronological
exactitude of a drama; I'm easy with a willing suspension of disbelief.
But the underlying practicalities of a rigorous geographic and
historical depiction are no difficulty, either.

Although the drama telescopes the action into a series of successive
appearances by the suitors, I can't picture the Casket Test as something
like a scratch and win (or lose) instant lottery ticket, or a drive
through Reno-style wedding chapel.  Nor that suitor #2 rested in a
waiting room while suitor #1 made his choice, and that Bassanio arrived
as the door swung closed on his heels, like the jealous husband in a
farce.  Both of the first two were wealthy men, with entourages and the
great "port" Bassanio feels he has to match.  They presumably did not
park their whole traveling caravan at a meter in front of Belmont with
the horses still in harness, ready to take off the moment the results
were known.  Rather, we might imagine two or more days of courteous
ceremony and entertainment on the front end (certainly without yet
meeting Portia) and a hasty but surely one day long period at the back
end, in readying to leave.  And the same would be true for Bassanio
arriving.

And of course, it is essential to the plot for Antonio to be in default
before Bassanio, through Portia, is in a position to help him.  So, the
quick cut to "three months later," what we all know to be the crucial
deadline, is the most natural sequence in the world.  Bassanio was
surely not free to drop by at his own convenience without notice of any
kind.  Portia was a hot property, and surely there must have been a
parade of other unmentioned suitors who came and had to be received
before those two whom Shakespeare depicts for us in order to show the
nature of the Casket Test and the error in the choices of silver and
gold.

Tony B

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Apr 2002 09:54:12 -0700
Subject: 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1021 Belmont on the Brenta?

Bill Godshalk asks,

>Let's pretend, for the sake of discussion, that Belmont is one of the
>pleasure palaces on the Brenta.  Why would Bassanio take so long to make
>the trip from Venice to Belmont if it is twenty-five miles or less?

I could be missing something, but I don't recall anyone saying that the
trip takes that long.  He might just hang around that long before making
his choice.  Portia has had time to become enamoured of his company.

Cheers,
Se

 

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