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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
The Big Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0643  Tuesday, 11 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Edmund Taft <
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	Date: 	Monday, 10 Jul 2006 10:54:58 -0400
	Subj: 	The Big Question

[2] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 	Monday, 10 Jul 2006 20:48:01 +0000
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0634 The Big Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Edmund Taft <
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Date: 		Monday, 10 Jul 2006 10:54:58 -0400
Subject: 	The Big Question

David Bishop concludes his latest post thusly:

 >"After all, how could I see the truth of the play when I stubbornly 
fail to understand
 >that Shakespeare is presenting Antonio, Bassanio, Jessica and Portia 
as despicable hypocrites, >thieves, cheats, etc., and Shylock as their 
admirable victim?  I guess we all have our blind spots."

Maybe somebody argued this position, but not me. What I find so 
admirable about the play is the way that Shakespeare refuses to let his 
characters off the hook. Shylock is wrong to thirst for revenge (though 
we can see why he is so motivated), and the Christians are wrong to 
cloak as mercy Shylock's punishment, which is clearly meant to break him 
(and it does). Bassanio is a spendthrift playboy, Jessica's double; 
Antonio cannot see or understand clearly (either himself or others), and 
Portia, like a lot of rich people, is used to getting her own way (and 
will cheat if she has to insure that she gets what she wants), etc., etc.

In short, there's great balance in this play, from start to finish. And 
one neglected area that needs more study is Shakespeare's emphasis on 
styles of thinking. In this play, the two rival styles are literal 
(Shylock) and figurative/metaphorical (Portia's father). I guess there's 
a third too: fuzzy thinking (Antonio).

Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Monday, 10 Jul 2006 20:48:01 +0000
Subject: 17.0634 The Big Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0634 The Big Question

David Bishop again notes "Shylock's mean materialism."  But how did the 
worldly villain appear on Shakespeare's stage?

Here's Florio's 1611 Italian dictionary definition of "SILO":  "he that 
hath a nose crooked upward, a flat or chamoy-nosed fellow [reverse 
stereotype?]. Also he that hath a scouling looke, lowring visage or 
hanging eye-browes. It hath also been used for the whole world or 
universe."

Regards,
Joe Egert

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