The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1300  Thursday, 31 May 2001

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 23:00:28 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:17:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1249 Re: Tragic Hero

[3]     From:   Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 23:26:05 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   re: Tragic Hero

[4]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 16:03:02 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero

[5]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 17:02:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero -- Apology

From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 23:00:28 +0100
Subject: 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero

> From:           Evelyn Gajowski <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

>Is anyone besides me troubled by the fact that the three listmembers who
>have been singled out for various intellectual and personal shortcomings
>and defects -- including nothing less than "madness" -- are all female?

Not to go too deeply into this, but there is one list member who
invariably drives me to the verge of apoplexy, and he's male.

Robin Hamilton.

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:17:28 -0400
Subject: 12.1249 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1249 Re: Tragic Hero

I agree that the association with Montenegro seems more plausible in Il
Pecarrone, but even in this case the construction "bel monte," given the
usual medieval association of blackness with ugliness, seems an
antithesis of "black monte" rather than a pseudonym.  I see no way,
however, of discovering Shakespeare's knowledge of diaspora geography,
and I find some of the textual evidence identified by Florence Amit
intriguing.  I would also like to know what the s spelling of Balthasar
means, as the name appears elsewhere, and Lorenzo's name is similarly
altered in this play.

I disagree that Shakespeare was actually as poor a geographer as his
texts read as world atlases would indicate.  As with Prospero's island
and the seacoast of Bohemia, concrete geography is obscured to emphasize
more poetic connotations of location.  The atmosphere of Venice is
comprehensible to the audience as far as it is recognizable as a
prototype of London, and Belmont could be either modeled on an English
country estate or the court, both of which might be compared to a
beautiful mountain top, insulated from the tribulations of the city and
requiring several days to access.

While I tend to read Portia's Belmont in this light, I do not think
there is any limit to the connotations an author might attach to a
particular location, and more evidence from more texts might easily
persuade me to suspect any number of them as thematically relevant.  I
do agree with Florence Amit that an interest in Hebrew seems a natural
inclination in an author of Shakespeare's age so obviously in love with


From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 23:26:05 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        re: Tragic Hero

I realise that Florence Amit has not yet had a chance to respond to my
last posting on the geographical position of Belmont.  However, I have
been to visit Ms. Amit's Homepage ("William Shakespeare's Merchant of
Venice Manifested" - http://www.tmov-caskets.com/) and found the answers
to some of the questions that were raised in my mind (and posed by
Marilyn Bonomi) about Ms. Amit's larger theory.  This is a long post so
those who do not wish to read a detailed response to Ms. Amit should
turn away now.

I should point out, before going into detail, that I am working at
something of a disadvantage.  I am currently on a research trip to
Stratford, and therefore have no access to my books (with the exception
of an Arden copy of  "Merchant").  I also have not had time to read Ms.
Amit's pages in full, and have skimmed them for references to Marrano
Jews.  Ms. Amit may have answered some of the points that I raise in
this posting elsewhere in her pages, and will certainly have made points
that I know nothing about in sections that I skipped over.  I apologise
to her for any apparent discourtesy in not giving her argument a full
hearing before responding to it.

Ms. Amit's search for Jews and Marrano Jews in "Merchant of Venice" goes
much further than naming Lorenzo as a Marrano (a person of Jewish
descent, converted to Christianity).  She tells us that his friends
Bassanio and Gratiano are Marranos too.  Portia is Jewish and, in order
to marry her, Bassanio will be forced to convert to Judaism and undergo
circumcision.  Shylock pursues his pound of flesh, in Ms. Amit's
reading, not out of blood-lust but as part of a cunning plot to
legitimise his daughter's marriage to a Marrano (which Ms. Amit thinks
Shylock supports) and to force the Venetian court - concerned for the
safety of a Christian merchant - to confirm Lorenzo and Jessica's legal
inheritance of Shylock's property.  Something that Ms. Amit feels would
not otherwise have been allowed.

Obviously this is a novel interpretation, which strongly challenges the
traditional reading and performance of the play.  This alone is no
reason to reject the theory, and I will try to consider Ms. Amit's
arguments with a clear eye, but without prejudice.

Ms. Amit believes that her reading of the play explains how Shakespeare
intended the play to be read and performed, and seems to imply that this
reading was overtly suppressed before being replaced by the (supposedly
inaccurate) traditional readings with Shylock as oppressive father and
sincere enemy to Antonio.  "After a short period of performance 'The
Merchant of Venice' was banned.  Then followed three hundred years of
simplistic, medieval presentations.  This site promotes the production
of 'The Merchant of Venice' as we are convinced that Shakespeare
designed: a clever, satirical play wherein some Venetian Jews, by
presuming to be, and seeming to do, that which the Christian majority
expected of Jews succeed to gain entrance into the discriminatory court
of Venice.  Their purpose being: to reverse the usual practice of the
state bureaucracy and obtain a ruling that will allocate the value of a
dying man's property for an inheritance to his newly wed daughter ...
After the case is favourably resolved and the father leaves his life in
contentment, there is joy and reconciliation for the survivors".

The first question that I would like to ask Ms. Amit is when exactly
'The Merchant of Venice' "was banned" and by whom?  It was certainly not
banned by James I, who enjoyed a performance of the play in 1605 so much
that he asked for the play to be staged again.  "Merchant of Venice" is
generally considered to have been written between 1594 and 1598, which
would mean that it was still being performed at least seven years and
maybe eleven years after its first performance, not at all "a short
period of performance" by Renaissance standards.  It is true that we
know of no performance of the play between 1605 and 1741 (not counting
adaptations of the play, such as Granville's "The Jew of Venice" which
were performed from 1701 onward) but to assume that the absence was due
to a ban rather than either defective records or changing theatrical
taste seems rather presumptuous.  Without access to my books I cannot
compare the performance history of other Shakespearean plays with that
of "Merchant", but I am fairly certain that many have similarly long
performance gaps without explanation and without any indication of a
legal ban.  If Ms. Amit has actual evidence of a ban, then I would ask
her to show it to me.  If not then the ban seems to be the product of
imagination rather than research.

Ms. Amit is not able to give any direct reference in the play to the
racial status of Lorenzo, Bassanio, Gratiano and Portia.  This is
unsurprising as there are no such references.  However, she interprets
and extrapolates the text in order to suggest that Shakespeare had
intended that their Jewish or Marrano racial status be known and implied
in the text in various ways.

Lorenzo's Marrano background, according to Amit, is first made clear by
the abrupt departure of Solanio and Salerio at his approach.  "Notable
will become Lorenzo's Biblical epithets, his espousal to a Jewish girl
and indeed his need to leave Venice in haste, making it evident that
here is a crypto-Jewish refugee, whom 'bona-fide' Christians often did

Are Solanio and Salerio hostile to Lorenzo?  The text, which Amit never
cites in detail, suggests not.  They are positively friendly in their
reference to the newcomers - "We leave you now with better company" and
"worthier friends".  If they are hostile to Marranos then this is
certainly hypocrisy, because Amit states that all three men (not just
Lorenzo) share this status.  True, Bassanio suggests that the two men
"grow exceeding strange" which Amit might seize upon as evidence of
repeated sudden departures of this kind, but Salerio promises to arrange
a meeting soon.  More importantly, left with Bassanio and Antonio,
Lorenzo also suddenly makes his excuses and departs.  Amit does not
suggest that this shows any hostility on Lorenzo's part towards
Antonio.  The most obvious explanation for all these departures is that
Shakespeare is clearing the stage for Bassanio and Antonio to talk in
private - something vastly important to the advancement of the plot.

When Solanio and Salerio next appear, their behaviour seems to
completely demolish Amit's reading of their earlier departure.  Far from
shunning Lorenzo, the two men are in his company and following his
orders to help him achieve a private desire (his elopement with
Jessica).  Later, as they put their plan into action, Lorenzo describes
them as his "sweet friends" and promises to return the favour if they
should ever steal wives (from unwilling fathers).  Amit apparently
notices the incongruity and tells us that "despite their distain, just
those haughty men are selected to participate in Lorenzo's elopement",
but she offers no real explanation for their suspension of their
supposed racial hostility beyond the implied suggestion that they may
hate Shylock (as a full Jew) more than they hate Lorenzo (a Christian

Amit declares that "So delectable to Salario and Solanio, was the
thought of a 'romantic intrigue', that would humiliate Shylock, that
they have overlooked simple reality ... For if Lorenzo had really wanted
to make Jessica Christian, and stay so himself, his status would have
been enhanced by offering the church a new and willing convert ... Far
more spurious would have been his flight if Lorenzo had been a true son
of Venice, and not a wandering Marrano.  No arguable reason could have
persuaded a Christian young man to face an uncertain future in
unfriendly Turkish lands when the Church would have welcomed HIS choice
of wife, without qualm.  Nor would Shylock have had his daughter
returned or his ducats".  Amit sees Lorenzo and Jessica's flight as
representative of the many Marranos who were "escaping religious
persecution" joining "a procession of Jews and Marranos who were fleeing
Italy after 1550".

I have already pointed out the absence of textual evidence that Belmont
was "in unfriendly Turkish lands" and will point out later that Portia,
at least, was unquestionably Christian - but it is also worth pointing
out that Lorenzo did not set out with the idea that he would "escape"
Italy and travel to Belmont.  Instead Jessica and Lorenzo flee to Genoa
(in Italy) and are only persuaded to travel on to Belmont by Salerio.
Once again this supposedly hostile Christian begs Lorenzo's company and
then, if we follow Amit's reading, persuades the Marrano Lorenzo to
enter a foreign and non-Christian sanctuary, which had not been part of
Lorenzo's own plan.  Salerio's friendliness and lack of racial hostility
towards Lorenzo seems obvious.

Why has Lorenzo fled at all?  Amit cannot understand it, but might be
helped to do so by comparison with "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
Hermia's father in "Dream" opposes Lysander's suit and favours
Demetrius.  The Athenian Law and the Duke, Theseus, side with the
outraged father.  As a result Hermia and Lysander flee to a foreign
place outside the boundaries of the harsh Athenian Law which supports
fathers over daughters.  There may be no suggestion that Venetian Law
demands Jessica's execution for her transgression as the Athenian Law
does in "Dream", but it is clear that in Shakespeare's mind that the
letter of the law supports the outraged father (although the spirit of
the law may be changed by authority figures).  The duke accompanies
Shylock in his search for Jessica on Bassanio's ship.  Again I do not
have access to my books, so cannot easily search for equivalent
elopements in Renaissance Literature, but I would be very surprised if
such research did not produce many equivalent stories of elopement to
foreign places with different laws.  Until very recently there was a
tradition of English elopements to Gretna Green to take advantage of the
more lax marriage laws in Scotland.

Does Lorenzo expect Jessica to convert to Christianity and remain a
Christian himself?  Amit says not, but to do so she must ignore
Shakespeare's text which does not support her.  Jessica, safe in
Belmont, which Amit regards as a Jewish haven presided over by a Jewish
matriarch (Portia) and her newly converted Jewish husband (Bassanio),
tells Launcelot "I shall be saved by my husband - he hath made me a
Christian!".  Amit will probably protest that it is necessary to trick
Launcelot who clearly has a bias against Jews, but since Launcelot is
apparently unperturbed by the fact that he is suddenly serving in a
Jewish household once again (having expressed his hatred of Jews in
leaving his former master) then there seems no reason why Jessica and
Lorenzo's Judaism should remain hidden from him.  Belmont is not much of
a sanctuary for Jewish and Marrano refugees if they are forced to
pretend to Christianity while they live there.  Modern texts often
suggest that Jessica's final lines in II.iii are spoken as a soliloquy
on an empty stage, Launcelot having exited after his "adieu!".  If this
is true, then we have absolute evidence of Jessica's intentions - spoken
to herself in private - "ashamed to be my father's child ... O Lorenzo /
If thou keep promise I shall end this strife / Become a Christian and
thy loving wife!".

As for Jessica and Shylock, Amit's whole theory stands or falls on her
ability to prove that their relationship is positive and unbroken, and
that the elopement is nothing more than a plot to trick the Venetian
courts into supporting Shylock's will.  Again there is not one reference
in the text that Amit can present as open support of her views.  There
is ample evidence against them, however.  If Shakespeare intended such a
plot then he would, if he had been following theatrical tradition or
indeed theatrical commonsense, have provided ample explanation of the
plot to the audience in discussions between characters who support the
plot and in asides.  Instead Shylock curses his daughter when alone with
Tubal, another Jew, whom Amit claims is deeply involved in the plot -
and Jessica, on an empty stage with nobody to trick or cheat, says in a
brief soliloquy that if her plan succeeds "I have a father, you a
daughter, lost".  Amit's theory often depends upon people accepting that
just about every word Shakespeare's characters speak is a lie, and that
the truth exists only in subtle references not easily apparent to reader
or audience (and only really noticed by Ms. Amit herself).

As for Portia's Judaism and Ms. Amit's belief that she "requires
[Bassanio's] circumcision (and his renouncement of his former allegiance
to Christianity) before they marry" (this quote from a SHAKSPER
posting).  This is perhaps the weakest and least feasible of Ms. Amit's
arguments as it is flatly contradicted by the text, which would have to
be cut in several places to hide Portia's Christianity.  Shakespeare
knows very well where Jews practice their religion and Shylock tells
Tubal "meet me at our synagogue ... at our synagogue Tubal".  Portia, on
the other hand, in her first scene refers in passing to Christian places
of worship ("chapels had been churches").  This in itself is nothing
conclusive, but rather more significantly Portia tells Bassanio - "First
go with me to church, and call me wife".  Jews are not married in
churches, but in synagogues and (as Shylock and Tubal's dialogue shows)
Shakespeare obviously distinguishes between the two.  Ms. Amit must know
far more about the Jewish religion than I do (of course), so she will
correct me if I am wrong in believing that monasteries are a Christian
innovation and that there is no such thing as a Jewish monastery.
Despite this, Portia tells Lorenzo (also probably a Jewish convert, or
about to become one, by Ms. Amit's reading) that she and Nerissa will
spend their time "in prayer and contemplation" in "a monast'ry two miles
off".  Why would a Jew pray in a Christian establishment?  Finally, and
most damagingly for Ms. Amit's theory, Stephano tells Lorenzo and
Jessica (who, according to Ms. Amit, have fled to Belmont expressly to
take advantage of Portia's Judaism) that Portia "doth stray about / By
holy crosses where she kneels and prays / For happy wedlock hours".
Crosses are an exclusively Christian symbol.  If Belmont is a Jewish
haven then it seems odd that everybody living within it has to pretend
to each other that they are really Christians.  Once again Ms. Amit is
dependent upon the claim that Shakespeare's characters constantly lie
among themselves and to the audience and that the truth is only given in
obscure fragments and opaque allusions.

Ms. Amit suggests that Bassanio's "presence in Venice is made impossible
by his physical condition" (having been freshly circumcised) and on her
web pages says that "the period of recovery for Joseph Nasi [a Christian
who converted to Judaism on marriage - on whom Ms. Amit claims Bassanio
is based] after his circumcision may be inferred by action in the
play".  Again she states that this supposed circumcision is "a good
reason for Bassanio's induced absence from Venice even when he is begged
by Solanio to rescue Antonio - which causes Portia to act in his
stead".  There may be some ambiguity in these statements that I have not
understood, but if not then Ms. Amit is making demonstrably false
statements.  The only delay in Bassanio's return to Venice, in
Shakespeare's text, is his marriage to Portia.  It seems rather likely
that this delay was one of hours not days.  Olivia in "Twelfth Night"
has a Priest ready and standing by and bustles Sebastian into an instant
marriage ceremony that apparently takes place seconds after he has
accepted her proposal.  Portia tells him that "never shall you lie by
Portia's side / With an unquiet soul", which suggests that he will be
gone before nightfall, "For you shall hence upon your wedding day".
Moved by Antonio's letter Portia cries "Dispatch all business and be
gone!".  Ms. Amit would have us believe that this business included a
circumcision and some days (or is it weeks?) of recovery time, which is
not really consistent with Portia's urgency.

I am truly puzzled by Ms. Amit's claim that Bassanio's "presence in
Venice is made impossible" and that his "induced absence from Venice ...
causes Portia to act in his stead".  I am almost tempted to suggest that
she has not read the play since Bassanio is unquestionably present in
Venice, entering on the very first line of IV.i, having left for Venice
before Portia and Nerissa, and having arrived before them.  He attempts
to satisfy Shylock with bags of money (a charade, according to Ms. Amit)
and fails.  Portia does not act in his stead or replace him, but acts
completely independently and without his knowledge.

Ms. Amit would have us believe that Bassanio and Gratiano are Shylock's
fellow conspirators.  She even hypothesises a private "meeting with
Bassanio [for Shylock] when they appear to have worked out their
strategy".  "Bassanio made him accept a straw man for the court gambit,
Shylock would not have conceived of the idea alone" (I have removed the
word "let" which seems to be a typo, but I'm sure Ms. Amit will correct
me if I have altered the meaning of her sentence).  Ms. Amit would have
us believe that Gratiano, in the Court scenes, "over-play[s] his part of
the judgemental Christian" "playing the part of a rowdy (until Shylock
tells him to quit)".  We should therefore consider the way in which this
'plot' actually develops within the play.  Ms. Amit believes that
Shylock and Bassanio knew from the beginning of the play that Jessica
would elope with Lorenzo to Belmont and that Shylock's "merry bond"
would lead the court to award the young lovers their loving father's
estate.  Judging by the actual train of events described in the play,
however, the two men would have had to be blessed with foretelling the
future before they could predict such a conclusion.  Lorenzo's flight to
Belmont, as I have already pointed out, was not planned by him.  He was
persuaded to visit Belmont by Salerio.  Was Salerio in on the plot?  Ms.
Amit tells us not.  In fact, by Ms. Amit's reading, he is openly hostile
to Lorenzo, Jews and Marranos; so Shylock and Bassanio could not have
relied upon his part in pressing Lorenzo and Jessica into Belmont and
this must be a lucky chance.  In the court room itself things look very
bad for Antonio.  Bassanio's attempt to save him by offering money
cannot work and unless Shylock repents, and they lose their supposed
plot, some outside factor must be found to save him.  This outside
factor is Portia, dressed as a Doctor and making an arbitrary and (many
have considered) unfair judgement.  Obviously this must have been part
of Shylock and Bassanio's plan, as all would have come to nothing
without it.  Unfortunately for Ms. Amit it is absolutely clear from the
text that Portia does not tell Bassanio about her plan, and he is so
convinced by her performance that he later tells her that he has given
her ring to a Doctor and believes her when she says that she has slept
with the Doctor to obtain the ring again.  Presumably, from Ms. Amit's
point of view, this is all yet another bout of Shakespeare's characters
lying to each other for no apparent reason.  Portia's involvement is
itself a by-product of her marriage to Bassanio, and unless the casket
scene is yet another moment of pure dishonesty this is not something
that Shylock and Bassanio could rely upon.  Once Portia's verdict has
been stated we reach the sentence passed by law upon Shylock which is
not the passing of his goods to his daughter and her husband, but the
complete loss of all his goods - half to Antonio, half to the court -
and Shylock's execution.  This would leave Jessica with no inheritance
(Ms. Amit claims that her inheritance is the only driving force behind
Shylock's actions) and Shylock dying in penury.  Fortunately the Duke is
merciful and grants Shylock his life.  Perhaps Shylock and Bassanio know
him to be merciful in such cases and could predict his response, if not
then - once again - the plot teeters on the brink of failing
completely.  Jessica, however, will still inherit nothing.  The final
conclusion of the plan, by Ms. Amit's reading, is an appeal to Antonio's
generosity.  What mercy can he give Shylock?  Antonio spontaneously -
and unless he was a knowledgeable conspirator in the plan - without any
possible prompting, suggests that Lorenzo and Jessica be provided for.
Once again Shylock and Bassanio's supposed plot is reliant upon an
unpremeditated action from a Christian who Ms. Amit will have us believe
is nothing more than a dupe, a "straw man", used without his knowledge
to provoke th!
e Venetian courts.  Moreover Antonio is obviously not supporting
Shylock's interests, since he insists that Shylock himself become a
Christian - which cannot have been suggested by any of the supposed
Jewish conspirators.  If this is a plan then it is a very bad one.

There is one last point to make about Ms. Amit's theory, which is that
she completely ignores the fact that Shakespeare did not invent his
story, but based it upon several well known and easily obtainable
sources.  The damage that this does to her argument is obvious.  While
trying to convince us to reject the traditional reading of the play Ms.
Amit tells us that Shakespeare's story is so absurd that it must be read
ironically, and goes on to list the absurdities that could not be
seriously meant.  "Here are some of the absurdities that should have
given the audience pause: It is absurd for a man to want a pound of any
man's flesh, quite as absurd as had been the libel of blood that it
parodies. It is likewise absurd that a Jew in dispersion, willy nilly,
without a very good motive, would call attention to himself and to his
brotherhood so dangerously by a proposal so demonstrably evil. It is
absurd that because a bigot perfunctorily spits upon his clothing during
a time of expulsions, of trials and even death for Marranos, of book
burning and the confiscation of property by the inquisition, that a Jew
would choose such a relatively innocuous deed as Antonio's, to "revenge"
himself upon. While his interest would be to survive the persecution. It
is absurd for an observant Jew who would be under the daily jurisdiction
of Rabbinical law, to confuse monetary matters with criminal penalties
or that such a savage forfeiture would be countenanced by the rabbis and
therefore by himself."  Most of these factors, however, are already
present in Shakespeare's source - "Il Pecorone" - in which a Jewish
usurer offers money in return for a bond offering a pound of the
borrower's flesh if he defaults.  In "Il Pecorone" there is no
equivalent to Jessica to justify Ms. Amit's interpretation, and there is
not even any reference to the borrower spitting at Jews or damaging
their usury business (which Shakespeare gives as justification to
Shylock).  The Jew is a villain without any motivation for his deeds,
but he wants the prize guaranteed in his bond not money.  This story was
told perfectly seriously and accepted as a serious story by its readers,
the inventions that Ms. Amit forces upon "Merchant of Venice" cannot be
applied to "Il Pecorone", and yet "Il Pecorone" contains a Belmonte the
location of which is described in almost exactly the same way as
Shakespeare's Belmont - which Ms. Amit uses as a major part of her
theory (I have dealt with this on my last post) and the "pound of flesh"
elements of the plot are almost all present without the justification of
Jessica.  If there are no Marranos in "Il Pecorone" then there seems to
be no reason to see them in "Merchant of Venice", which tells much the
same story.  Most of Ms. Amit's arguments seem to collapse in the face
of the original source material.

Finally, I would point out that Ms. Amit's reading of the play is almost
certainly impossible to perform on a stage.  Some aspects of the reading
could be conveyed by visual signs and interpolations (Portia could dress
as a Jewish woman, a rabbi could be standing by to marry Portia and
Bassanio, the rabbi could wave sharp implements around and Bassanio
could wince occasionally during the Trial scene) but the most important
elements could not be portrayed without a thorough-going rewriting of
the script or some truly atrocious nudging and winking from all of the
supposed conspirators as they lie, and lie, and lie - to strangers,
enemies, their fellow conspirators, and even to themselves in asides and
soliloquies - for no obvious reason and without any simple
justification.  Ms. Amit must think Shakespeare a very bad playwright if
the true meaning of his plays is only available to a Hebrew specialist
reading the play with Ms. Amit's notes in front of him or her.

Topping all these lies is Shylock's muttered aside "I hate him for he is
a Christian ... If I can catch him once upon the hip, / I will feed fat
the ancient grudge I bear him ... cursed be my tribe / If I forgive
him".  Shylock is certainly not speaking aloud or trying to fool the
Christians, if any of them heard him they would not agree to the bloody
bond and his supposed plan would fail instantly.  He is speaking only to
himself and the audience.  Ms. Amit thinks that Shakespeare wanted the
audience to believe that Shylock would never have harmed a hair on
Antonio's head and only used him, at Antonio's friend Bassanio's
insistence, as a "straw man" to bypass Venetian legal prejudice.  This
aside proves her wrong.  Shakespeare wanted the audience to believe that
Shylock was a serious threat to Antonio from the very beginning.  On
this point, as on so many others, Ms. Amit's theory falls apart.

Thomas Larque.

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 16:03:02 -0700
Subject: 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1271 Re: Tragic Hero

Evelyn Gajowski wrote:

>Is anyone besides me troubled by the fact that the
>three listmembers who have been singled out for various
>intellectual and personal shortcomings and defects -- including nothing
>less than "madness" -- are all female? Let's all take a few deep breaths,
>shall we, and reread (or, surely, in some cases, read) Elaine Showalter's
>classic essay, "Representing Ophelia

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