Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1360  Monday, 22 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Joachim Martillo <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 08:32:32 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2] 	From: 	Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 10:42:52 -0400
	Subj: 	Shylock as Suffering Servant

[3] 	From: 	D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 11:29:00 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[4] 	From: 	Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Saturday, 20 Aug 2005 07:05:51 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joachim Martillo <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 08:32:32 EDT
Subject: 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >There are one or two SHAKSPERians who have come close to saying that
 >Shylock should have been allowed to butcher Antonio, but I surely hope
 >they are not "just about everyone."

The Star Trek Novel Dark Mirror by Diane Duane takes place mostly in an 
alternative universe in which the alternative MOV ends with the 
butchering of Antonio by Shylock.

Duane creates pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue for the alternate MOV.

Joachim Martillo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 10:42:52 -0400
Subject: 	Shylock as Suffering Servant

Scot Zarela writes:

"It's impossible for a playwright to nail down every last meaning: 
meanings ramify, and by analysis even particles of meaning are 
(endlessly?) divisible into more particles. What happens on the stage is 
the play:  the (singular) meaning is in the (plural) meanings in the 
buzz-buzz of the people streaming away:  they can't stop talking about 
it, arguing about it.  What did it mean?  Then there's life in it!"

I more or less agree with Scot's conclusion. I'd add that a smart 
playwright would want to draw the audience back again and again - one 
answer to Kenneth Chan's question and one reason why Don's 
black-and-white interpretations are almost always wrong. But Scot 
forgets that Shakespeare had his eye on the future much more than we 
used to think. It's pretty clear now that publication (at least Q 
publication) was on Shakespeare's mind, just as it was on Jonson's.

I can't agree with some of Scot's earlier observations. The scene 
between Shylock and Antonio is hardly comic; and the feud between them 
is more than personal: it has a long history that Shylock alludes to 
more than once. We can't "keep it personal" because in part the play is 
about "in" versus "out" groups. First, Shylock is part of the out group, 
and then Antonio, at the end of the play, finds himself on the outside 
looking in as well.

Morocco and Aragon are of the "wrong" groups and their punishment for a 
"wrong" choice is not to be allowed to breed! This is hardly personal, 
Scot. It runs a lot deeper than that.

They are "the wrong kind."

Shylock is a villain but not just a villain - and there's the rub for 
those who, like Don, yearn deeply to simplify the play. Shylock is NOT 
Don John; if he were, we could all agree. Insisting that we discount 
those parts of the play that reveal Shylock as more than a cardboard 
villain does a disservice to Shakespeare's art and patronizes those in 
the audience and those who read the play.

I like duels; I also like to think about what I see or read. I think 
that makes me like a lot of people, and in no way the elitist that Scot 
proposes in his nearly ad hominem argument. Finally, the truth is that 
Elizabethans seemed to LIKE sermons. Maybe they liked to debate/argue 
about things more than you think, Scot. It was taught in school, you know.

Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 11:29:00 -0500
Subject: 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Edmund Taft writes:

 >"Those who see MoV differently than Don have never, to my knowledge,
 >argued that Shylock should get away with murder. Don cuts off the
 >history in the play prematurely because then it makes interpretation
 >easy. What the play clearly suggests is that there is an action/reaction
 >going on: spit on some men often enough and they will seek
 >redress/revenge."

Somebody, however, also operating under the name "Edmund Taft," wrote:

 >"So Shylock is the bully and Antonio the victim? OK (for the sake of
 >argument). If this is so, it reverses the situation at the start of the
 >play in which we learn how abominably Antonio treated Shylock in the
 >past (and will again, he promises!)."

 From the irony in the question and its tentative answer, I gathered 
that Ed didn't really think that Shylock was a bad guy who should be 
defeated. This seemed to be confirmed in the second sentence when he 
appeared to me to say that Antonio's act and Shylock's were morally 
equivalent. Perhaps, though, he meant something else.

On the other hand, I find myself in complete agreement with his 
sentence: "What the play clearly suggests is that there is an 
action/reaction going on: spit on some men often enough and they will 
seek redress/revenge." Indeed, they will. The only question to my mind 
is how we judge a man who seeks death in exchange for insults.

Cheers,
don

PS. Do people ever wonder if Antonio was right? That usury-lending for 
profit-is morally evil? I don't happen to think so, but I wonder 
sometimes if maybe I'm wrong, and with me the whole capitalist enterprise.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Saturday, 20 Aug 2005 07:05:51 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1352 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Edmund Taft writes, "Those who see MoV differently than Don have never, 
to my knowledge, argued that Shylock should get away with murder. Don 
cuts off the history in the play prematurely because then it makes 
interpretation easy. What the play clearly suggests is that there is an 
action/reaction going on: spit on some men often enough and they will 
seek redress/revenge."

What intrigues me here is what probably intrigued Will Shakespeare when 
he penned his portrayal of the money-lenders in MOV.  Recall that Jesus 
drove the money-lenders out of The Temple.  Recall that Jesus disputed 
with the lawyers in The Temple.  Recall that Jesus admonished his 
disciple who cut off the ear of a Roman to save The Savior's life.  Read 
the Epiphany of Christology, the famous Sermon on The Mount: KJV, 
Matthew, C 5-7, in particular, 38-40, 44-45, 48, from Will Shakespeare's 
Savior, the words of  Jesus,

"38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a
tooth for a tooth;

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall
smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat,
let him have *thy* cloak also.

...

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for
he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust.

...

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven
is perfect.

All this money-and pound-of-flesh trading was abhorrent to Jesus.  It 
became the underpinning message of his followers, those who scripted the 
mores of Christianity.  It was common fodder to the Shakespearean 
audience, Judaic-Christian, 1600.  The New Testament is thematically 
front and center to The Merchant of Venice.

Revenge was the furthest thing from the mind of Jesus, and probably from 
Shakespeare.  More likely Shakespeare like His Savior sought to suggest 
the good and evil dichotomy all Christian wished upon the masses 
crowding into the Globe.  I doubt that revenge is the thematic message 
of the play.  Shakespeare probably had this *very passage* in mind about 
forgiving those who "despitefully use you" when he crafted MOV.

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

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.