Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: March ::
Leah's Ring

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0102  Friday, 5 March 2010

[1]  From:      Hannah Lemberg < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 4, 2010 11:36:27 AM EST
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0092 Leah's Ring 

[2]  From:      Aaron Azlant < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 4, 2010 11:42:08 AM EST
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0092 Leah's Ring 

[3]  From:      William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 4, 2010 3:17:27 PM EST
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0092  Leah's Ring 

[4]  From:      David Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 4, 2010 8:52:54 PM EST
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0092  Leah's Ring 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Hannah Lemberg < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 4, 2010 11:36:27 AM EST
Subject: 21.0092 Leah's Ring
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0092 Leah's Ring

I have a vague memory that there was a discussion about the ring on this list around 2003/2004. Hardy, is this correct? If so, might be fun to revisit.

Best,
Hannah Lemberg

[Editor's Note: Well, Hannah, your memory serves you better than my own. In 2006 Jack Heller began a thread, A Wedding Ring Question, Volume 17 in the archive, http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2006/0039.html, found with the Browse SHAKSPER function. This is, however, not the only time Leah and the ring have been discussed, see http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2005/0332.html, for example. Still others might be found using the SHAKSPER search function: http://www.shaksper.net/search.html. The SHAKSPER archives are one of this list's most significant resources. I will be having some more to say about this feature soon. HMCook]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Aaron Azlant < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 4, 2010 11:42:08 AM EST
Subject: 21.0092 Leah's Ring
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0092 Leah's Ring

Just to be a little bit mischievous: I think that there is a possibility that the ring is not only presented as a symbol of marital fidelity but also that it has bawdy undertones (that would clearly be very distant in this exchange). Contrast, for instance, against the final lines of the play, where another ring-themed arc concludes and similar ideas finally emerge into the consciousness of an audience:

GRATIANO. Let it be so: the first inter'gatory
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.

You can obviously go a little crazy with this sort of thing -- I had professors as an undergrad who made their careers by reducing the experience of reading Shakespeare to a hunt for sex-themed wordplay. More likely I think that Shakespeare tends to keep multiple meanings active as long as possible in his text, be these sincere or transgressive.

--Aaron

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 4, 2010 3:17:27 PM EST
Subject: 21.0092  Leah's Ring
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0092  Leah's Ring

Leah is not Shylock's wife. She's only a few words on the page until a reader, director, actor gives her a back story. 

How many back stories can we give her? She was Shylock's betrothed but died in a plague before they could be wed. She gave him the ring on her death bed. No, she was his Italian lover who was forced into a convent by her family to keep her from marrying him. The ring was given as a memento of their love that was not to be. No, he met her during carnival. They were both masked. They danced all night. As morning broke, she slipped a ring on his finger, and whispered her name in his ear. Actually her name was Rhea, but she had a slight speech impediment. She disappeared down a dark alley. 

Silly? You bet. 

Bill 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         David Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 4, 2010 8:52:54 PM EST
Subject: 21.0092  Leah's Ring
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0092  Leah's Ring

Shylock's horrible wish to see Jessica dead, as long as his money and jewels were returned with her corpse, undermines the sentimental value of Leah's ring. Its particular identification may be intended to parallel the diamond that cost 2000 ducats in Frankfort: Shylock has a personal love for each of his jewels. But the marriage association may also suggest that Shylock never told Jessica about this ring, since had she known it was her mother's she would not have traded it for a monkey. He knew the fledged bird naturally flies but he had made no provision for her ceasing to be his housekeeper and marrying. This is one factor, among others, that helps us sympathize with her running away.

The trade for a monkey is wild but generous, and suggests a reaction against Shylock's stinginess. It gains some more sympathy as a trade of a cold stone for a warm body. Shylock's "wilderness of monkeys" may show in its quantification his reduction of bodies to money. So his sentimental attachment, such as it is, may be more to the jewel than to Leah. We tend to take this as Shylock's most sympathetic line. Shakespeare may not have meant it that way.

I think Shylock is not a real Jew but the ultimate, symbolic un-Christian.  He's Shakespeare's comment on un-Christian behavior among Christians in England, not on actual Jews in Venice, or anywhere else.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

_______________________________________________________________
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.