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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
Ambiguous Words
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1819  Friday, 19 September 2003

[1]     From:   Todd Pettigrew <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 11:15:50 -0300
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1812 Ambiguous Words

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 11:13:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1812 Ambiguous Words


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Pettigrew <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 11:15:50 -0300
Subject: 14.1812 Ambiguous Words
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1812 Ambiguous Words

On the matter of the exact pound of flesh, I would say that Shylock
ruins himself. It is Shylock who insists on the exact letter of the bond
throughout the first part of the hearing. He will not take the money
owed to him, he will not take the money plus a huge penalty, he will not
provide a surgeon, all because it is not exactly stipulated in the
agreement. This tactic is especially vicious since the pound of flesh
was originally suggested by Shylock as a mere joke and not to be taken
literally. Shylock, like Laertes, is undone by his own villainy.

Todd Pettigrew

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 11:13:08 -0500
Subject: 14.1812 Ambiguous Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1812 Ambiguous Words

Re David Cohen's questions on ambiguous word meanings and Shylock, I can
offer two suggestions:

1) MOV is a fairy tale (that is, a folk fantasy) and the circumstances
need have little relevance to realism as long as they are real. Looked
at practically, the whole set-up is absurd. But bitter anger over
humiliation -- leading to a vindictive, murderous malice -- this is very
human and thus very real. You could easily come up with more realistic
versions of this particular theme, but S obviously liked the fantastic
one that could be linked with the casket story and the true friendship
story.

2) Even within the limited realism of the play, I don't find it that
hard to believe that Shylock in the fury of his hatred of Antonio would
fail to check on the validity of the contract. That, too, is very human
and very real.

Cheers,
 don

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