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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1222  Tuesday, 19 July 2005

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Jul 2005 11:45:53 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Jul 2005 13:12:58 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[3]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 08:21:33 +0300
        Subj:   16.1204 Shylock as Suffering Servant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Jul 2005 11:45:53 -0400
Subject: 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >I look forward to the day
 >when a production does NOT cast an Olivier, a Pacino or whoever as
 >Shylock and makes him a subordinate character,

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival did just that a few seasons ago
and it was very refreshing.  Shylock was played by the same actor who
played Friar Lawrence in R&J that season, with about equal centrality.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Jul 2005 13:12:58 EDT
Subject: 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

When I try to hear the name Shylock as a 16th century Londoner or
someone from Stratford might have heard it, I hear a name something
modern German abscheulich, scheusslich or Scheissloch, which all existed
in variants in Friesian and English and Scottish dialects of
Shakespeare's time.  These words mean things like terrible, horrible or
shithole.  I have certainly heard shite for shit in England and Scotland
and some rural dialects in the USA (including among Pineys and
Clamdiggers in NJ).  With the propensity of many dialects in England and
Scotland to convert a /t/ to a glottal stop before /l/, Shylock may have
subconsciously suggested "lake of shit" of the audience.

Joachim Martillo

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 08:21:33 +0300
Subject:        16.1204 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Dear forum members,

Colin Cox asks "How far into the future do you propose that to be?"
"when the audience will be free of anti-Semitism."  Who can answer that?
  The future that I look forward to is when the audience will be
presented with the play that Shakespeare wrote - which is a compliment
and gift to the Jewish people in the way of George Elliot's "Daniel
Deronda".

Mr. Cox also says that "I always thought it was "shallach" meaning
cormorant. The cormorant, as a symbol of greed, would have struck a
chord with the Elizabethans."

Yes, Sir Israel Gollancz  points out in his book "Allegory and Mysticism
in Shakespeare" (George Jones,  London, 1931), that Shylock comes from
the Hebrew word `shallach' meaning 'cormorant' which according to the
Elizabethans meant usurer, "in the same way that we use the term
vampire".  Shakespeare in his placing of multiple meanings was never
afraid to be the devil's advocate to show a complete picture.  It is for
the reader to choose the right casket, here too.

I like Stuart Manger's choice of cast. and his wanting to put the play
into the right historical perspective - which implies an expression of
the  Jim Crow period of relationships between Venetians and Jews  due to
the  Inquisitional attitude of Pope  Paul IV and the paranoia connected
with the confrontation in  South- Eastern  Europe with  the Ottoman Turks.

I wish to add to Michael Egan's statement about act 5 that the gala
expressed there includes a kind of repertoire of the plays being
produced by Shakespeare's company. It is an agreeable kind of reminder
that this is theater and not reality.

Mr. Weiss, the reason why I did not send my essay before is because the
old web site for "shaksper" did not include the means for showing Hebrew
characters. The essay will be sent shortly.

Bill Arnold probably knows by now that I do not agree with the
simplistic depiction of Shylock that he puts.  From my point of view the
character cannot be defended with the attitudes he is presumed to
possess. I defend another Shylock.

A very great difficulty that is emphasized by the confrontation of
Antonio with Shylock is that the truths of one religion as they are
expressed and developed in sacred writings do not equip the bearer of
those truths to communicate with the bearer of truths of another religion.

So either you look at the play as a sociological study - which indeed it
is, or you suspend judgment and accept the stranger's truth for the
duration of the play.

However, I believe that the milieu of the play is that of the Jews and
crypto Jews.

Florence Amit

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