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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Redheads
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0611  Friday, 14 September 2007

[Editor's Note: I am requesting that responses to this digest be the 
last postings with this subject line. Anyone wishing to continue beyond 
the upcoming final posting, should do so privately or should initiate a 
new thread on a specific aspect of what has been discussion in this one, 
striving to keep any future discussion related to areas of Shakespeare 
studies. HMC]

[1] 	From: 		Bob Lapides <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 12:14:58 EDT
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

[2] 	From: 		Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 14:12:49 -0500
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

[3] 	From: 		David Basch <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 15:23:36 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

[4] 	From: 		Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 13 Sep 2007 09:39:39 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0570 Redheads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Lapides <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 12:14:58 EDT
Subject: 18.0600 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

Is Peter Bridgman serious when he says Judas was given a hooked nose not 
because it's a Jewish trait but to indicate villainy? There's no 
question that Jews and Arabs have hooked noses, though of course not all 
of them, least of all those who have intermarried.   When George 
Cruikshank, Dickens's illustrator, drew the characters in Oliver Twist, 
he gave a hooked nose to Fagin but not to the murderer Bill Sikes.

Peter points out that we've agreed red hair is not a particularly Jewish 
trait, but we've also noted it was thought to be --  which was why 
Shylock had a red wig or a red hat, as well as a big nose.

It's true Palestine was a geographical designation in the ancient world, 
but Judaea was the name of the Jewish state the Jews lived in -- until 
the Romans renamed it Palestine in the 2nd century CE. Peter writes, "I 
think we are therefore justified in describing the Holy Family as 
'Palestinian.' "I have to wonder why he can't describe them as simply 
Jewish -- or, if need be, as Judaean Jews.

Peter has brought up some points I was ignorant of, which has gotten me 
to fill in other gaps in my knowledge -- about the New Testament in 
Greek and Aramaic, and about ancient Palestine.  I'm grateful to him for 
this and impressed by his wide knowledge. And I apologize to Hardy and 
the list for pursuing this topic at length.

BTW, in its entry for "Shylock," Wikipedia has a rather sympathetic 
painting of Shylock and Jessica done by Maurycy Gottlieb, a 19C Jewish 
artist.

Bob Lapides

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 14:12:49 -0500
Subject: 18.0600 Redheads
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

I have found out a great deal about the meaning of red hair in European 
(and closely related) culture. But I still find myself craving more 
fact, and if possible, expert interpretation. To wit:

1 -- Is there anywhere any compilation of information about the 
representation of red hair in European art, literature, and folklore?

2 -- Is there any biological study of red hair as a genetic trait?

3 -- Does anybody have the foggiest notion how a trait, apparently 
characteristic of the most northern of European peoples, came to be 
associated with (a) a people of Middle Eastern origin, (b) evil, and (c) 
some overlap of (a) and (b)

Anyone with scholarly friends in areas outside Shakespeare and 
literature that would be relevant could ask them if they know of any 
such studies. I'd appreciate it. Such information could be useful to 
understanding MOV better, and certainly to understanding the cultural 
prejudices of Shakespeare's time.

Thanks,
don

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 15:23:36 -0400
Subject: 18.0600 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0600 Redheads

If the discussion is about Jews living at the time of Jesus and the 
Temple, the country in which the Jewish Temple was located was Judea, 
not "Palestine," and the people were Jews, not "Palestinians."

The Romans renamed the area "Aeola Palestina" after the Jewish revolt 
failed, much later in the first century. It was after that time that 
this designation of the area was widely used. Hence Peter Bridgeman's 
reference to Jews at the time of Jesus as "Palestinian" is misapplied. 
Jesus would not even know what he meant.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Thursday, 13 Sep 2007 09:39:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0570 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0570 Redheads

Some final thoughts on "Redheads"....

Colin Cox (SHK 18.0532) reports Burbage played Shylock. Has that been 
nailed down? Might it not have been Shakespeare himself or someone else?

David Basch (SHK 18.0542) quotes AYLI's "dissembling color" and "browner 
chestnut". Isn't Shakespeare contrasting rather than likening the fiery 
red and the browner chestnut hue? Basch is correct in translating the 
Hebrew in SAMUEL 16:12 as "with beautiful eyes". The Greek Septuagint 
(transliterated "kallous ophthalmon") is probably closest to the Hebrew 
as "with beauty of eyes".

Larry Weiss (SHK 18.0548) offers us multiple options for staging lawyer 
Portia's announced  failure to distinguish merchant from Jew. Couldn't 
Shakespeare have tinged the goodly apple Antonio's own fuzz red? Don 
Bloom in the same post notes the prominence of red hair among the 
Celtic/Germanic stocks. Wasn't Satan the Red in some way modelled after 
the horned rufous Norse invaders? Did Inman's "Teutonic males" restrict 
their prey to Jewish women alone?

Virginia Byrne (SHK 18.0557) limns passionate red as most powerful of 
the visible wavelengths. Technically, isn't it rather violet?

Peter Bridgman (SHK 18.0554) duly notes the early notorious association 
of red hair with the barbarous older brother Esau. But why Esau? Tony 
Burton's paleopresentist author(s) of this GENESIS tale took pains to 
link the duped and superseded older brother with Edom, and so justify 
contemporary Hebrew occupation of Edomite land and hegemony over its 
crude uncivilized hunter people. The Edomite region "Seir" is itself 
linked to the Hebrew word for hair. It seems the Lord's mysterious ways 
include force and (in Jacob's case) fraud. Not to be outdone, later 
Christian supersessors deliberately named the turncoat apostle "Judas" 
and painted him with Esau's red hair. After all, Christianity was the 
new kid on the block, intent on displacing the older brother Judaism. To 
these Christians the only good Jews were the dead Jews of the ancient 
past, whose birthright they claimed as the New Israel, the true heirs of 
the covenant. Does Peter Bridgman truly believe the name "Judas" and
  his nefarious red hair were not designed ab initio to villify 
"Judaism"? Even today in modern Israel, militant religious Zionists use 
these Old Testament tales to "legitimate" their Greater Israel movement. 
And so the Wheel turns.

The sibling rivalry between the Old and New Dispensations runs, of 
course, throughout the MERCHANT OF VENICE. Whether freely or compelled, 
the movement of each major character is invariably from Old to New. The 
characters often post figure multiple Biblical heroes. Shylock is cast 
as Abraham, Laban, and Jacob, with Antonio cast as both Jesus and Isaac 
(like old Iobbe). Portia, in fulfilling her father's Old Testament, 
breaks free of it at the same time. The trial may be seen as an updated 
wrestling match of the angel/Portia with Jacob/Shylock, who emerges 
chastened as part of the New Israel. Lancelet begins as both hairy Esau 
and Ishmael ("Hagar's child") while serving the House of Shylock, but 
morphs into the younger heir as he deserts Shylock for the House of 
Bassanio and Portia, the new Christian Church. By impregnating his Dark 
Lady, he brings all future Othellos into the Christian fold.

Interestingly I see the sibling rivalry extending to the distaff side as 
well. Christian propagandists often typed Leah, to whom Shylock is so 
attached, as the unattractive elder sibling Judaism to be superseded by 
the younger beautiful Rachel, or Christianity. Yet Leah mothered Judah, 
and through her line David and ultimately Jesus (?Jessica). Indeed, 
Jessica, like the Bible's Ruth, is abandoning her Jewish Moab for 
Lorenzo, the Christian Boas, sire of the David/Jesus line.  But where is 
Rachel in the MERCHANT? Doesn't Jessica, like Rachel, steal her father's 
jewels/idols? Remember those Jasons of Venice in quest of the Golden 
Fleece? Aren't Portia and Jessica the gilded ewes in this play? And 
doesn't "Rachel" mean "ewe" in Hebrew?

One more troubling feature of these posts is the automatic presumption 
that all conversos were faking loyalty to their shiny irresistible new 
faith. Conversos are nearly always conflated with Jews, be they the 
Bassanos, the "Jews" of Shakespeare's London, or Rodrigo Lopez. Before 
Lopez was hanged, drawn, and quartered, the last sound he heard was the 
mocking laughter of his fellow Christians in response to his dying 
affirmation that he "loved the Queen as he loved Jesus Christ". After 
all, Camden adds, this came "from a man of the Jewish profession". 
Wasn't this relentless distrust and suspicion from Brother Big in cowl 
and hood to be Shylock's fate to the end of his days?

Wondering,
Joe Egert

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