2004

Jewish Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2151  Monday, 27 December 2004

[Editor's Note: This thread has reached its useful conclusion. I ask
that contributors to it make any concluding statements and then carry on
any further discussion privately.]

From:           David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 21:15:58 -0500
Subject: 15.2141 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2141 Jewish Shakespeare

Peter Bridgman wrote the following:

 >>David Basch writes ...
 >>
 >>The poet is obviously
 >>sympathetic to the Jew because he humanizes him greatly in his speeches
 >>and sprinkles the dialogue of the play with the contradictions in the
 >>morality espoused and practiced by the Christians ...
 >
 >Surely, with the exception of Iago and Cornwall, the poet is sympathetic
 >to ALL his villains?
 >
 >Peter Bridgman

This is good point that Peter Bridgeman makes, but the poet is also
sympathetic to non villains so this is no test of Shylock's alleged
villainy.

Note that the poet was not sympathetic to Portia since he very
conspicuously has Bassanio declare, "Portia's counterfeit." True the
line can be taken as the assertion that the portrait of Portia does not
do her justice. On the other hand the line also declares that "Portia is
counterfeit," a counterfeit of the values she espouses.

I don't believe that Shakespeare could have been guilty of a colossally
incompetent unawareness of the double entendre here. What is more, we do
have evidence that the second understanding of the line is meaningful in
connection with the story. Portia does not follow her own teaching,
which we learn both from her words that tell us so-"I can sooner teach
twenty what to do than to be one of those who follows my own teaching"
[paraphrase] and from the evidence of her failure to dispense (to the
Jew) the mercy that she grandly tells the court is so important.

Meanwhile, no one else in the play comes close to Shylock in the depth
of human feeling expressed. It must be concluded that it was the poet's
intention to humanize Shylock. While the negative expectations of the
audience about Jews and that enunciated by the characters who oppose
Shylock obscure this, there can be no doubt that it is there and was
meant to be felt in order for the audience to break through to an
authentic recognition of the moral status of the characters, which is
opposite to that conventionally assumed. This anti-Jewish atmosphere
would have been especially true during the period in which the play was
originally shown and in hundreds of years since.

Today a new assessment is breaking forth as audiences begin to at least
see Shylock in a "dirty Harry" role, recognizing here his motive to get
even with the humiliation he suffers from his enemies which is ever more
clearly seen.

It further remains to see Shylock in his true light, the way Shakespeare
created and meant him in the story, as a decent man engaged in an
ill-considered charade to get the arrogant Antonio to humble himself to
appeal to him, a Jew, for his life.

In addition, audiences must come to see that Portia and company were
engaged in plundering Shylock's wealth. For as one commentator-attorney
has pointed out, a court which seeks compromise will not lead any of the
parties to believe that he will be permitted to gain his maximum
demands. Shylock, who grievously errs in trusting to the Venetian court
for justice, is set up by the court and brought to his ruin, a victim-a
not too good reflection on those who espouse high-minded ideals and
don't carry them out.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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editor assumes no responsibility for them.

"Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2150  Monday, 27 December 2004

[1]     From:   M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 06:32:02 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?

[2]     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 17:13:50 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 06:32:02 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?

Philip Weller wrote re: "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard.":

Does this stage direction represent some stage practice, or is it only a
reader's aid?

This is the $64,000 question. No one knows for sure, but Alan Dessen in
his book Elizabethan Stage Conventions and Modern Interpreters makes a
very level-headed attempt to answer it. Most of his other works dig
deeper into issues of what the visual language of English Renaissance
drama was and are well worth reading.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 17:13:50 -0500
Subject: 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2137 "Enter BRUTUS in his orchard"?

Philip Weller needs to consult Alan Dessen's *Dictionary of Stage
Directions in English Drama," which should answer this questions and
some others he hasn't yet thought to ask.

David Evett

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Pop culture Reference

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2147  Monday, 27 December 2004

From:           Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 2004 23:23:45 -0500
Subject:        Pop culture Reference

High on my list of weird Shakespeare references this week is a comment
buried in the DVD Special Features of the zombie romantic comedy Shaun
of the Dead.

[SPOILERS COMING...]

In the section titled "Plot Holes", the character Diane explains that
after leaving the pub with her boyfriend's severed leg in hand (um...it
all makes sense in the movie, trust me), she battered her way across to
the park and climbed a tree, where she passed out.  When she awoke, she
found the pub had been burned to the ground and the area was deserted.
Nevertheless, she was too afraid to come down, so she stayed there for 3
days, subsiding on her boyfriend's leg, just like in the film Alive,
which incidentally is the film they saw on their second date....but only
because they weren't able to get into Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About
Nothing.

Happy Holidays to all, living and undead.

Tanya Gough
The Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue
www.bardcentral.com

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Looking For Richard DVD

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2149  Monday, 27 December 2004

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 25 Dec 2004 13:06:31 -0500
Subject:        Looking For Richard DVD

Release date: January 3, 2005 in UK.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Peggy Ashcroft ODNB Bio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2146  Monday, 27 December 2004

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 22 Dec 2004 01:50:29 -0800
Subject:        Peggy Ashcroft ODNB Bio

The new Oxford DNB has daily free email bios that have included some
really choice figures--fabulous courtesans are preferred over dull
clergy--and today's life is about Dame Peggy Ashcroft.  The substantial
bio, by Michael Billington, highlights her role in the founding of the
Royal Shakespeare Company.  In the 60s, she apparently got Peter Brook
to go back to work after he collapsed while producing The Wars of the
Roses:  "At the same time she was fashioning her own monumental
performance as Margaret of Anjou. It began with her as an auburn-haired
French bride of startling girlishness; progressed in the middle section
to the isolated foreign queen and maddened, blood-streaked,
battle-hungry she-wolf; and ended with her as a sad, bedraggled figure,
haunting the court she had once entered as a young bride. It was not
merely her protean range that astonished-it was the revelation of an
untapped demonism lurking within Ashcroft herself and of an overwhelming
imaginative power. Her performance finally laid to rest the accusation
that she was simply an exquisite miniaturist: this was acting on the
'the Big Bow-Wow' scale."

More at http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/lotw/1.html and you can
subscribe at
http://www.oxforddnb.com/oxforddnb/info/online/lotw/#emailbiogs You can
still catch the last week's bios including of a roguish baron once in
all the headlines, Lord Lucan, the suspected murderer.

Happy hols,
Al Magary

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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