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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Belmont on the Brenta
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1055  Tuesday, 16 April 2002

From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Apr 2002 20:54:33 -0400
Subject: 13.1029 Re: Belmont on the Brenta
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1029 Re: Belmont on the Brenta

I think that Bassanio leaves Venice as soon as the money is in hand.
That's when the clock begins to tick.

He invites Shylock to dine with the Christians in 1.3.30. At the end of
2.2, Graziano says, "we will visit you at supper-time," and in 2.5,
Shylock tells Jessica that he is "bid forth to supper" (11) by the
Christians, and at the end of 2.6, Antonio tells Graziano that the party
has been called off because the "wind is come about" and Bassanio
"presently will go aboard" (63-4). I assume that these references are
all to the same dinner-party cum masque. Bassanio apparently leaves
Venice in haste.

Portia's words to Bassanio in 3.1 -- "Pause a day or two/Before you
hazard" (2-3) -- seem to indicate that he will play the casket game as
soon as he arrives. I don't intuit any delay here. But at line 215,
Salerio shows up to remind Bassanio that the three months are expired
and the money is due, or past due.

Clifford Stetner doesn't like placing Belmont in the physical world and
I understand his point. Belmont is a fairyland. But Clifford goes on to
suggest:

"Perhaps facing a lifetime either of celibacy or monogamy, Bassanio uses
some of the extra ducats for a Lorenzo/Jessica style last fling with his
mates."

This sounds like Bassanio to my ears. He makes his way slowly up the
Brenta -- one pleasure palace per day.

I realize that playtime, the time of let's pretend, is not real time.
But is it significant that Bassanio takes three months to get from
Venice to Portia, but only a brief time to get from Belmont to Antonio.
Does this discrepancy tell us something about his priorities?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

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