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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1299  Friday, 5 August 2005

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 07:27:58 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 10:23:12 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 13:42:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 13:48:12 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[5]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 14:00:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[6]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 14:05:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[7]     From:   Joseph Egert <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 20:46:52 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant [6]

[8]     From:   Martin Mueller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 22:14:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 07:27:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

John Drakakis writes, "Antonio was a mercantilist NOT a capitalist,
which is why he doesn't lend money at interest."

Talk about splitting hairs [ ! ]  C'mon, this is why *Das Kapital* is
not worth the paper it is printed on.  Wake up to reality.

A merchant is a capitalist.  He sells money in exchange for a commodity
and resells the first money through the sale of the commodity at a
PROFIT,  and resells money in exchange for more commodities *ad infinitum.*

In case you doubt that, in addition to my other credentials, I have a
five-year degree in Business Finance from Umass-Amherst, and suggest you
do some reading in the field.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 10:23:12 -0500
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Ed has a curious notion of the history of twentieth century criticism,
since irony and ambiguity were among the greatest interests of the "New
Critics" of the 30's and 40's (with whom he seems to identify me), and
thusof what I am fighting for and against.

What I am arguing for is reason, coherence, and humility, and against
looseness, self-indulgence and inconsistency. Ed's furious responses to
my postings always surprise me, because I don't consider him
particularly loose, self-indulgent, or inconsistent. But he seems
determined to protect a number of examples that are.

(Incidentally, I don't consider this an Ancients-versus-Moderns issue. A
view is not better or worse for being older or newer. To my mind, they
all need to stand the test of reasoned judgment.)

In regard to a few specifics: he attributes to me a view of LLL that I
don't have. To wit, the audience would expect the play to end in
marriages, so that when it doesn't, the author frustrates those
expectations and thus violates some preconceived idea I have about how
his play should end. I have no such preconceived idea.

Structurally, Ed is quite right. We do expect marriages at the end of
comedies, and LLL is surely a comedy, yet the marriages are put off for
a year. The author is evidently playing with the form and the
expectations it generates. And why not? But why should this process be
considered an arcane mystery? We establish the plot, the form it belongs
to, and the contrast of the actual ending to the expected ending. This
is postmodernism?

The problem plays are, of course, a problem precisely because they are
so difficult to work out a basic interpretation of. Quite the reverse,
the drift (to my mind) of much criticism of the past three decades or so
has been to try to force the other plays into the same kind of moral
uncertainty (and resultant queasiness) that the problem plays generate.

Some years ago, a discussion came up about Isabella and sex in MFM,
during which I defended her right to bodily integrity against the
condemnation (sometimes quite brutal) of several posts. I was accused of
being old-fashioned (even (oh horrors!) Medieval), and perhaps I was,
but I also considered myself to be eminently feminist. I don't believe
that the sexuality of women should be either a toy or a commodity that
can be stolen or extorted, and thus a woman has a right to reluctance in
that regard. In the case of Isabella, she was also a woman of faith and
had already committed that sexuality to God, so that she was being asked
to sacrifice not only her virginity, her chastity and her honor, but her
very soul.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people today (as there were at
the time), who are completely cynical about sex. They say, in effect,
"For God's sake, Isabella, don't let your brother die over one lousy
bleep. So what if Angelo is a bleeping bleep and you hate his guts. He
holds all the cards. It's only sex. It won't mean a thing. Hey, you're a
Catholic. Bleep the bastard once and then go to confession."

I am not so out of touch with modern sensibilities that I don't
understand this position. Heaven knows, it is, with certain important
reservations, my own. But it is not Isabella's. To me the integrity of
her body is a civil right, but to her it is an article of faith, a part
of the integrity of her very soul, which is far more important than
either the sin of uncleanness or even the death of her brother.

She could, like Huck Finn, say, "All right, then, I'll go to hell." But
unlike Huck she has a conception of what hell really is.

This is a problem, indeed, and one of the things that makes MFM a
"problem play."

I suppose I ought to derive some kind of grim pleasure from driving Ed
nuts with my obtuseness and refusal accept the defeat of ideas rejected
long ago, but I don't. I could, of course, say that this defeat and
rejection actually took place some 24 centuries ago, but that is more
than even my vanity can accept. But I will go on being a gadfly even if
a very second-rate one compared to the Prince of Gadflies. In the
immortal words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

Cheers,
don

PS. Could we make a generalization to the effect that in the Middle
Ages, the 18th Century and the 19th Century, Isabella's position would
be commonly approved of, and almost universally understood, but in the
20th it would not? Could we then say that in the 16th and 17th centuries
there would be a serious ambivalence about it?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 13:42:44 -0400
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >Sorry Larry Weiss,
 >
 >You're wrong.  Antonio was a mercantilist NOT a capitalist

Sorry, John,

A "mercantalist" was a person who advocated mercantalism.  Mercantalism
was an economic system developing during the decay of feudalism to unify
and increase the power and especially the monetary wealth of a nation by
a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy usually
through policies designed to secure an accumulation of bullion, a
favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and
manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies.

Antonio was a "merchant," as the title suggests.  A merchant was an
"adventurer" who risked his property in buying and selling goods,
frequently for import and export.  To say that someone is a merchant
and, therefore, not a capitalist is akin to saying that a mill owner is
not a capitalist because he is a manufacturer.  The term "capitalism"
was not current in Elizabethan England.  The essential element, though,
is risking wealth in the expectation of making more wealth.  That fits a
variety of enterprises, including trading, manufacture, participation in
joint stock companies, sharing in theatrical companies, etc.  It also
fits the banking industry; but in the late 16th Century money lending
was not considered to involve the hazard of property (which was one of
the reasons interest was popularly despised -- the lender was seen as
getting something for nothing).

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 13:48:12 -0400
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

It just struck me that the inscription on the lead casket bears some
relation to the essence of capitalism.  I'm sure there are those who
will make something of this, probably a variety of contradictory somethings.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 14:00:09 -0400
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >as early
 >as LLL, Shakespeare frustrates the expectations of an audience who,
 >based on structure and plot, expect marriages at the end of this
 >romantic comedy.

But he did sort of promise they would get the weddings if they came back
to see the sequel.  I doubt he continued to frustrate the expectations
in Love's Labours Won.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 14:05:14 -0400
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >Bassanio is not inherently superior to these two men, he's just lucky:

And has an ear for a good rhyme.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Aug 2005 20:46:52 +0000
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant [6]
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant [6]

JD Markel writes, "I've yet to read any article discussing MOV's
possible Commedia roots..."

Check out THREE ENGLISH PANTALONES by William (or Walter?) Barker, a PhD
dissertation from the sixties (I may have misspelled "pantalones").

Regards,
Joe Egert

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Aug 2005 22:14:30 -0500
Subject: 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1293 Shylock as Suffering Servant

I would like to second William Sutton's recommendation that people
should think about the time of others and write less.

There are some ancient parliamentary rules for putting limits on human
garrulity. Time is allotted and can be traded (I yield three minutes to
the gentleman from Tennessee).  There is a lot of good stuff and
intelligence in the contributions to this list (no less than on C-Span,
I guess), but things would greatly improve if there were some quota
system. What if you had n words per week, and if you exceeded them, the
list just wouldn't recognize you?

This might be trivial to implement, and a mechanical way of putting a
limit on debate, while crude and cruel, lets the editor off the hook
(with or without broken arms) and will always certainly improve the mood
of the readers. The Suffering Servant thread--and some other threads
recently--are forceful reminders of Mies' truth: Less is more.

MM

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