The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0154 Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Date: July 12, 2011 4:04:56 PM EDT
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: Rom. Scholarship; MV
>Actually, there should be no doubt about who the merchant is.
>In the modern world, all businessmen are sometimes called
>"merchants," but that is a corruption of the word. A merchant
>in the strict sense (and under the Uniform Commercial Code)
>is someone who buys and sells goods, as opposed to those
>who make the goods (manufacturers, or artisans in the old
>days), supply the real estate (landlords) or the capital
>(investors or bankers). Shylock was one of the latter –
>a "moneylender" in contemporary parlance. We now
>understand that money is a commodity similar to others,
>but it wasn't regarded as such, in theory, in the Elizabethan
>age. This point is made in the play's wordplay about money
It is by that same reasoning that Dante treats homosexuality and usury as two aspects of the same sin.
>Stuart Manger asks:
>[ . . . ] why is that when MoV is discussed,
>the role of Shylock is almost always the only topic of
>debate while the play itself is
>manifestly not about him primarily?
>Indeed, how could this play be "otherwise called the Iewe
>of Venyce"? in 1598, no less? It strains credulity. Surely
>the Roberts entry was forged. No?
"Julius Caesar"? "Cymbeline"? Not to mention that the very notion of the title as a fixed part of the authorial text was still not yet thoroughly established. And, of course, there is the fundamental fact here that Shylock is irrelevant to the last act.
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