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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1236  Thursday, 21 July 2005

From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Jul 2005 11:37:58 -0400
Subject:        Shylock as Suffering Servant

Dear All:

I have always thought that Shylock was angered to the point that he
sought revenge against Antonio. It seems clear to me that his anger is
justified, but in the culture of which he is a part, there is no way for
him to obtain any real satisfaction. Any attempt will backfire because
the Christians hold all the cards. That's what the trial scene
demonstrates, I think. Even concepts of mercy and justice are
manipulated by the dominant group.

So, with all due respect, while I can accept "suffering," I don't see
Shylock as a "servant" at all. He's maddened by prejudice and then
lashes out, only to end a broken man. That's how power works, and it can
work through a pretty young woman too - as Portia demonstrates.

In the end, "revenge recoils against the revenger," but Shakespeare
allows us to feel that the game was rigged from the start. Isn't that
how it always is?

Ed Taft

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