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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1240  Friday, 22 July 2005

[1]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 09:06:15 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 08:20:33 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[3]     From:   Joseph Egert <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 16:20:56 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK Shylock as Suffering Servant

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 13:03:47 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 09:06:15 EDT
Subject: 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

More on names.

I have done some more research.  Shielock is a name that is attested in
England and Ireland for several hundred years.

Joachim Martillo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 08:20:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Edmund Taft writes, "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...but Shakespeare allows us to feel that the game was rigged from
the start.  Isn't that how it always is?"

Indeed, the Shakespearean message, if there is one, might be getting
through.  Although it might appear that MOV never escapes being bound by
Old Testament law, the Shiloh allusion suggests Shylock's salvation is
found in Shakespeare's New Testament.  None can dismiss the one thousand
three hundred Biblical references in Shakespeare's plays.

However, if we allow for the comparative literature implications that
Shylock is Shiloh, symbolically the Christian Messiah in another time
and place, then he becomes a suffering servant of God.  And his anger is
in stark contrast to Christian doctrine, and the words of Jesus.  His
Old Testament ways isolated his daughter from him and caught him up in
his hubris before his peers.  He never escaped his love of money unlike
Portia, and her lover who picked lead over gold and silver.  We note it
was the father of Portia who created the conundrum of the wisdom
caskets.  The father-daughter pairs offer us one as good foil to the
other as bad.  Remember, it was Shakespeare's creation, and the play is
a love comedy which emphasizes the clear choice of love over money as
good.  Sorry to say, but Shylock is a minor character in all this who is
the bad father.

In the case of the NT, the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus before Pilate and
the Roman occupiers, but Jesus blamed none of this earth and stated
clearly that his death at the hands of the tribunal was the will of God.
  The point of Jesus' final exclamation from the cross, to his Father in
Heaven, wondering if he has been "forsaken," was the flesh talking and
not the mind which earlier had stated to his disciples, in Taft's words,
  "that the game was rigged from the start."  In KJV, John C 3, V 16,
Jesus said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life."  This latter exclamation states his role of the suffering servant
of a forgiving God.

If Shakespeare wanted us to see Shylock as a Messianic figure, it
requires us to think deeply and appreciate the breadth of the mind of
the Almighty Bard [ ! ]

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 16:20:56 +0000
Subject: Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK Shylock as Suffering Servant

Ed Taft writes: "...Shakespeare allows us to feel that the game was
rigged from the start."

Right on, Ed.

Jacob's Leah, like Shylock's beloved, had an only daughter, Dinah. She
too was stolen and kept hostage by uncircumcised Gentiles after being
defiled by their young prince Shechem. Nonetheless he wanted her for his
wife. Like Shylock, Dinah's family plotted lethal vengeance. Their plan:
feign forgiveness of the Gentiles and permit the marriage only if all
males in the city undergo circumcision; then slay them in their weakened
state. The young Gentile prince and his father convince their people
with these words (GENESIS 34): "These people are friendly with us; let
them live in the land and trade in it...let us take their daughters in
marriage and let them marry ours...Will not their livestock, their
property, and all their animals be ours?"

Sound familiar? And so the sons of Jacob slaughtered the newly
circumcised Gentiles and plundered the city of its wealth, its women,
and its children.

Does Shylock, in his heart of hearts, know what to expect from these
Gentiles? Does he wish to strike first? Haven't Paul's Gentile Sons down
the centuries always feared circumcision as castration-lite, a prelude
to murder?

Joe Egert

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Jul 2005 13:03:47 -0400
Subject: 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >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.

He surely had the right to be angry with his daughter and Lorenzo for
stealing his property.  But he had no reason to believe that Antonio was
involved.

I also disagree that he had no recourse.  The trial scene makes clear
that the law of Venice would have supported him if he sought legal
remedies to recover his property.  Shylock himself expresses great
confidence that Venetian law will uphold his bond (as, indeed, it does,
albeit subject to rather strict construction).

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