Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1246  Monday, 25 July 2005

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 22 Jul 2005 10:29:36 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2]     From:   Joseph Egert <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jul 2005 17:03:17 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1240 Shylock and the Suffering Servant

[3]     From:   Florence Amit <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jul 2005 22:33:03 +0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 24 Jul 2005 00:16:50 +0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[5]     From:   John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 25 Jul 2005 14:42:12 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 22 Jul 2005 10:29:36 EDT
Subject: 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Dear Friends,

While I largely agree with Bill Arnold and Ed Taft, I'd like to draw
attention to what I have always taken as Shakespeare's own judgment of
the actors in Merchant.

The moment comes with the court assembled and bitterly wrangling. Among
the Venetians, Shylock in his Jewish gabardine must have been more than
conspicuous.

Yet Portia newly introduced in the guise of Balthazar demands, "Which is
the merchant here and which the Jew?" (4.1.170).

It has always seemed to me that the whole play drives toward this moment.

Hope this help.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 23 Jul 2005 17:03:17 +0000
Subject: 16.1240 Shylock and the Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1240 Shylock and the Suffering Servant

Bill Arnold writes, "He [Shylock] never escaped his love of money unlike
Portia, and her lover who picked lead over gold and silver."

Bill is exactly wrong.

Why does Shylock grant Anthonio a loan free of interest? Why does he
stand on his bond, refusing to be bought off, "no, not for Venice."?
Don't be deceived with ornament, Bill. In Shakespeare's looking glass
world of foul and fair, Shylock is indeed the lead casket. It is golden
fair-haired Portia who "recks not her rede" and judges by appearance. It
is the "fair flesh" of silver-tongued Anthonio, "the goodly apple rotten
at the heart," who needs inward circumcision. At trial, whose is the
"gracious voice [that] seasons [her] plea so tainted and corrupt
[obscuring] the show of evil"? "Portia's counterfeit!" Look beneath the
surface to the substance. Shylock is the soul "not bid for love"
yearning, behind his plots, for the acceptance and friendship these
Gentles reserve only for each other.

Bill goes on, citing JOHN: "God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
Indeed, Martin Luther deemed this single verse "the Gospel in
miniature." A fellow poster (who wishes to remain unouted) alerted me to
Launcelet , Margery's (Mary's?) son, ("rather an honest woman's son")
claiming Old Gobbo as his "true-begotten father"--a parody perhaps of
the Virgin Birth. I'd only add the parody may continue in Jessica's
suspect legitimacy and remarkably in Shylock's own birth. Passing
through the looking glass, we find Shylock scorned as the "very devil
incarnation." Later, Gratiano proposes that a wolf's soul "whilst thou
layest in thy unhallowed dam,/ Infus'd itself in thee." Christ?
Antichrist? Or both?

Neither philosemitic nor antisemitic, Shakespeare remained to the bitter
end an unrepentant polysemite.

Finally, Larry Weiss alleges, "The trial scene makes clear that the law
of Venice would have supported him if he sought legal remedies to
recover his property."

Really?

With Jessica unconverted and Larry Weiss Pres.iding, perhaps Shylock
would taste justice even in those unEnlightened days. After her
conversion, that chance would evaporate, unless Shylock could barter,
say, Lorenzo's life for return of his property. Otherwise, he would have
to sue for a modest change of venue---outside Christian Europe.

Regards
Joe Egert

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 23 Jul 2005 22:33:03 +0300
Subject: 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Dear Forum,

Bill Arnold answered "my point of view that the character cannot be
defended with the attitudes he is presumed to possess. I defend another
Shylock." on July 19 with his "au contraire I neither defend nor offend
Shylock.  I am merely stating the obvious.  Inasmuch as Will S was a
Christian, etc.  "...which is to say that I am not answered and 2, that
the unfortunate dead artist has no means to withstand the presumptions
of people that have no sympathy for his independence and vision.

Ed Taft falls into the trap that many fair people do when he says, "I
have always thought that Shylock was angered to the point that he sought
revenge against Antonio."

There are all too many logical answers to that one if we begin with the
Jim Crow conditions that the Jews found themselves in.

Who would dare to threaten the life of a well known Christian during
that period of the Counter Reformation or ever - if he were not on the
verge of death and had a plan?  Would his friends allow it?  Why did he
go public?  Murderers are usually covert? Why would he not take Portia's
offer of a very large recompense rather than to proceed if he is a
miser? Obviously his psyche cannot be both miserly and revengeful. And
why would Antonio's petty persecutions be so much worse than the usual
'slings and arrows' he had suffered daily? Obviously his customary
attitude would be to withstand the trouble - and survive. The problem
for the Jews in the 20th century was precisely their customary civil
obedience.

Moreover as a religious Jew who wore gabardine (gibor din - "Hero of the
Law") how could he answer his own conscience with this revenge -
"learned" from the dominant culture? The truth is, according to my
reading, that Shylock has a lot of trouble with the concept even as a
subterfuge.

Joseph Egert puts a post Holocaust slant on Shylock's supposed revenge.
He asks,

"Does Shylock, in his heart of hearts, know what to expect from these
Gentiles?"

I believe that he did, for in Venice enclosure in to the ghetto for
Levantine Jews (then) was an on going process as well as the temporary
expulsion of Marranos.  To compare the victims of these events with the
conquering tribes of Canaan is not appropriate.

(Yes, in company with Levi, Simeon attacked Shechem maliciously (Gen.
xxxiv.), for which act he was cursed by Jacob with dispersion among the
tribes (ib. xlix. 5-7).

Larry Weiss also falls into the trap that allows an impossible Shylock
to be perpetuated. He says that Shylock "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 do not believe that his property was stolen by his daughter or her
espoused. (It is a necessary deception.) - Although it was constantly
being diminished by Solanio and Salario whom he calls "thieves". I
visited the Ghetto of Venice and the Jewish religious guide told us that
Jews could not own property even there - although, because of over
crowding, they did erect perilous upper stories on to existing buildings.

Of course Antonio was not involved in any part of the so called
elopement, although he voluntarily does facilitate the property
inheritance to Shylock's heir after his radical change of heart.   The
law that Shylock relies upon permits the Duke to adjudicate the property
of a felon - even though he is also a Jew. The usual condition is that
bureaucrats simply confiscated the property of a deceased Jew.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 24 Jul 2005 00:16:50 +0300
Subject: 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1236 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Dear Forum Members,

I said that Shylock would not threaten a "well known Christian"  nor
indeed would he hurt anyone else. It is the blood libel that is being
made into a parody here.

Florence

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 25 Jul 2005 14:42:12 +0100
Subject: 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1240 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Furness notes the name of Sir Richard Shylock, and Stephen Orgel in a
brilliant chapter of his latest book pursues a similar line of enquiry
to conclude that the surname English (it means 'fair-haired').  The
search for a semitic origin is, I fear, fanciful.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

_______________________________________________________________
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.