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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Shylock Redux
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0151  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 08:40:54 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:59:36 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 18:16:45 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redu

[4]     From:   Jacob Goldberg <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:45:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux

[5]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:51:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redu

[6]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 21:35:27 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 08:40:54 -0800
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

Mr. Kennedy corrects me with his usual helpful attitude:

>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

Fine, I should not have written Spanish.

This fails to address the actual point of my comment, which was that
there was likely to be anxiety in Shakespeare's time about forced
conversations due to the inquisition and the religious rules in
England.  I would like to know more about this problem.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:59:36 -0000
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

Galileo was interrogated at Rome.

The trouble is, EVERYONE expects the Spanish Inquisition.

martin

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 18:16:45 -0000
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

John W. Kennedy <
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 > writes regarding Mike Jensen's
post,

>>The phase of the Spanish Inquisition that put Galileo on
>>trial was instituted in 1542.
>
>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

True, it was the Inquisition, plain and simple.  There's a rather nice
Monty Python sketch on this:

"I take it all back. The earth is the centre of the universe, not the
sun. I mean it's obvious isn't it-just look up in the sky and you see
the sun moving across, circling us. I don't know what I was thinking of.
It's all that Copernicus guy's fault. He made me do it. He led me astray
with his fancy De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium talk. It was in
Latin, so my guards were down. Who expects heresy in Latin? I mean just
look at him. Does he look like a heretic to you? It's him you should be
after, not me. Okay I know he's dead this past century but dammit I'm
dead too and that hasn't stopped you!"

http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/paulfitz/spanish/gal.html

For the entire Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch:

"In the early years of the 16th century, to combat the rising tide of
religious unorthodoxy, the Pope gave Cardinal Ximinez of Spain leave to
move without let or hindrance throughout the land, in a reign of
violence, terror and torture that makes a smashing film. This was the
Spanish Inquisition..."

http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/paulfitz/spanish/script.html

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacob Goldberg <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:45:57 EST
Subject: 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux

  Por.        Tarry, Jew:
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be prov'd against an alien  352
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half  356
Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
And the offender's life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st;  360
For it appears by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contriv'd against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd  364
The danger formerly by me rehears'd.
Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.

Portia was indeed very tricky with Venetian law.  The law, she says,
hath yet another hold on you.  What was the first hold?  The contract
between Shylock and Antonio was legal under Venetian law.  Portia
acknowledged that before the Duke.  No one suggested that this was the
first time in Venetian history that such a contract had been made.
Portia conceded that Shylock had the law on his side and pleaded with
Shylock, therefore, to exercise mercy.

It is obvious that the law had no hold on Shylock for entering into the
contract or for insisting on its enforcement.  When Portia then injected
the (implied) prohibition against shedding a drop of blood in the
process of cutting out the pound of flesh (as has been said many times,
this is like giving someone the right to walk on your land but imposing
a penalty for leaving footprints), Shylock canceled the contract.

Venetian law had no hold on Shylock - yet.

Now comes Portia with "another hold" on Shylock (actually the first and
only "hold").  The contract for the pound of flesh, which she had just
found to be legal, is now proof that Shylock, an alien, has attempted to
murder a Venetian citizen, which is illegal.  And so, Down therefore and
beg mercy of the Duke.

Tricky, tricky, very tricky.

I have a question.  May we assume that, if Shylock had been a citizen in
Venice, instead of an alien in Venice, there would not have been a
charge of attempted murder grounded on a legal contract legally entered
into by two willing parties?

Was Shakespeare mocking the Venetian - Christian legal system?

Back again to my lurking status.

Shalom,
Jacob Goldberg

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:51:35 -0600
Subject: 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux

I will have one more thing to say on this matter, but it has to wait
until I have time to do it right. In the meantime I have to be content
with a couple of brief comments.

1. If your morality makes A spitting on B equal to B murdering A, you
are welcome to it.

2. Despite the recurrent use of the word Jew by various characters,
there is no evidence that anyone in the play is seriously anti-Semitic.
They detest Shylock because he is a usurer (and a mean SOB).

3. I stand by my original question: where is this right to be
"different"? Who in Shakespeare's time has codified it for us? Is it not
just a projection backward of a dearly held ideal of our time? Whether
we should have such a right, provided it could be defined, does not
enter in. What "rights" did the Elizabethans think were fundamental and
inalienable? Was "different" among them?

Cheers.
don

PS: I am seriously interested in Point 3, not as a matter of attempting
to triumph over an adversary, but as a matter of learning more. My
knowledge of Elizabethan law (or constitutional philosophy) is woeful,
but someone out there probably does know and could tell us. d.a.b.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 21:35:27 -0000
Subject: 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux

Sean Lawrence writes,

>Surely Shylock's claim about being robbed of his
>house is a metaphor, explaining how his money
>supports his life.

Indeed, but the particular image used was, I think, inspired by the
removal of the Theatre from off Giles Allen's land, which the company
was considering at the time. An adjacent barn was shored up against the
Theatre and with the prop taken away the barn and, its residents'
businesses, might collapse.

My "Shylock's unpropped house and the Theatre in Shoreditch" forthcoming
in N&Q 2003 is about this.

Gabriel Egan

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