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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Redheads
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0561  Tuesday, 28 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		Bob Lapides <
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	Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 11:49:19 EDT
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

[2] 	From: 		V. Kerry Inman <
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	Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 12:52:22 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

[3] 	From: 		Arthur Lindley <
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	Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 19:21:50 +0000
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

[4] 	From: 		Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 		Monday, 27 Aug 2007 11:33:09 -0500
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0557 Redheads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Lapides <
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Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 11:49:19 EDT
Subject: 18.0557 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

It's true that Dickens used stock theatrical stereotypes in depicting 
Fagin, but he found his imagery in the contemporary theatre he spent a 
lot of time frequenting, not in medieval mystery plays, which he didn't 
know about. The  first time Fagin appears in *Oliver Twist,* btw, he is 
holding a piece of pork  or bacon on a toasting fork, suggesting the 
devil's pitchfork as well as a  sign that he has no more regard for 
Jewish law than he has for civil law.

Bob Lapides

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		V. Kerry Inman <
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Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 12:52:22 -0400
Subject: 18.0557 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

By the way--I just remembered that a friend once indicated she believed 
the red
hair among Jews was due to Jewish women having been raped by Teutonic males.

Red hair among Jews is ancient though not common. One of the bodies of a 
Jewish
woman exhumed at Massada was a redhead. This is less than a century 
after Judas
died and certainly makes it possible that he actually was a redhead and 
makes a
redheaded Shylock less than completely outrageous.

V. Kerry Inman

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Arthur Lindley <
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Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 19:21:50 +0000
Subject: 18.0557 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

If we haven't exhausted this topic yet, I might add that Jonathan 
Slinger is currently playing a flamingly red-wigged Richard II at the 
RSC in Stratford.  He's meant, as far as I could tell, to resemble 
Elizabeth rather than Barabas or Shylock.

Arthur Lindley

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Monday, 27 Aug 2007 11:33:09 -0500
Subject: 18.0557 Redheads
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0557 Redheads

Nicole Coonradt quotes "'Shylock in Celluloid,' a commentary by Kathryn 
Bernheimer on the Al Pacino MOV film, directed by Michael Radford:"

"Radford points out that at the time the lending of money with interest 
was forbidden to Christians but permitted for Jews, who were not allowed 
to own property, were locked in a ghetto at night and forced to wear a 
red hat in public -- all details included in the film."

A little precision, please. In the first place, any number of Christians 
(including crusading orders and some very large international banks 
based in Italy) lent money at interest. In the second place, Jews were 
variously restricted in various places at various times across Europe. 
Finally, Jews were not restricted at all in England, since there were 
effectively none in the whole country (the queen's unfortunate physician 
aside).

I don't hold Coonradt responsible for this imprecision, but I regret her 
having quoted it.

And I am forced to return to my original questions. Does anybody have a 
clue as to why Jews should be associated with red hair?

Peter Bridgman's note about Esau (Genesis 25) is interesting, but would 
suggest that the anti-red hair tradition started within the Jewish 
community, and was later picked up and changed by Christians. Is that 
possible? Would that explain the still-current Islamic / Middle Eastern 
association of red hair with bad luck?

Has it always had that negative association among ethnic groups (such as 
the Celtic and Germanic) in which red hair is common? If not, when did 
it start?

Did it truly have this bad connotation in Shakespeare's time when not 
associated with Jews? Did anyone comment on the queen's complexion? Did 
sonneteers try to explain it away, as they might the failure of their 
beloved to have blonde hair?

Is there any study on the folklore of hair color and complexion?

Still in search of concrete information,

don

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