The Merchant of Venice (Vol. 77)
The Merchant of Venice
See also The Merchant of Venice Criticism (Volume 66).
The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596-97) has been labeled a problem play by many critics due to its combination of comic, tragic, and romantic elements as well as its ambiguous treatment of racial and religious differences. In the play, the merchant Antonio borrows money from Jewish moneylender Shylock in order to assist his friend Bassanio. Bassanio, a Venetian gentleman, borrows the money from Antonio in order to finance his pursuit of Portia, the heiress of Belmont, whom he wishes to marry. Ostensibly a romantic comedy centering on Antonio, Portia, and Bassanio, The Merchant of Venice explores darker issues as well, such as the treatment of Shylock, who is portrayed as a stereotypically greedy Jew and a social outcast. For attempting to enforce his contract with Antonio, a contract stipulating that a pound of flesh be removed from Antonio for failure to repay his loan, Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity. Critics often observe that, unlike many modern viewers and readers, the play's original audiences were not offended by the characterization and fate of Shylock. However, Shylock and his punishment have been the source of major critical debate since the nineteenth century and continue to be today. His standing as both a racial and religious “other” figures prominently in critical analyses of the play's treatment of ethnicity, religion, and social exclusion. Just as Shylock serves as a springboard for investigations of racial and religious issues, Antonio—whose affection for Bassanio is often seen as homoerotic—serves the same function in critical studies of the play's depiction of homosexuality. In addition, critics are interested in the play's exploration of economic issues. One of Shakespeare's most frequently performed plays, modern productions of The Merchant of Venice are presented with the challenge of depicting the character of Shylock, who is often portrayed as either a villain or a victim, as well as balancing the play's tragic and comic elements.
Many contemporary character-based studies of The Merchant of Venice have focused on Antonio and Shylock. Gary Rosenshield (2002) argues that Antonio, the Christian merchant, is presented as an economic ideal within an emerging capitalist society. The critic maintains, however, that Shakespeare questioned the possibility of such an ideal through Antonio's association with Shylock and the corruption of the world of finance. Rosenshield demonstrates that while Antonio is a true Christian in terms of his friendship with and love for other Christians, his personal hatred of Shylock underscores his un-Christianlike nature, just as his experience in Belmont places his merchant standing in a less-than-noble context. In assessing Shylock's position in the play as a social pariah, Bruce Boehrer (1999) combines an analysis of the play's bestial language and imagery with a study of Elizabethan and Jacobean attitudes toward the possession of dogs as pets. Boehrer contends that Shylock is associated with the mongrel or cur, a beast excluded from the society of humans, whereas Shylock's daughter Jessica is presented as a lapdog, an animal welcomed as a companion to humans but without the duty, or right, to contribute in a meaningful way to society. Boehrer maintains that for Shylock, the position of lapdog is unacceptable. Richard Abrams (1996) examines Shakespeare's characterization of both Antonio and Shylock, suggesting that Antonio's sadness is partially an affectation and that Shylock seeks love and understanding from Antonio and Bassanio.
Despite the play's challenges, The Merchant of Venice remains one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed plays. Reviewers often focus on the treatment of Shylock's character. Peter Marks (1999) praises Andrei Serban's “daringly unapologetic” production of The Merchant of Venice for the American Repertory Theater, which broke from recent portrayals of Shylock as a victim and rendered the moneylender as a knife-wielding villain. Marks contends that Shylock's sinister characterization was the most compelling aspect of the production. Robert Smallwood (1999) reviews Gregory Doran's Stratford staging, and finds that it had no new insights into the play, but featured exceptional performances by the actors playing Antonio, Shylock, and Portia. Trevor Nunn's production of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre has won a great deal of positive criticism. Hal Jensen (1999) describes the way Nunn's direction emphasized the isolation of the main characters and notes that Henry Goodman's praiseworthy Shylock dominated the production. Matt Wolf (1999) applauds Nunn's ability to sustain the audience's interest to the end of the play. Robert Smallwood (2000) also notes Goodman's excellence in portraying Shylock, and finds Nunn's production as a whole “brilliant.” John Simon (2000) praises most of the acting in Nunn's production, but finds fault with some of the elements—particularly aspects of the court scene—which he finds to be too contrived. Alvin Klein (2000) assesses Richard Corley's production of The Merchant of Venice for the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, contending that although it attempted to develop the play's romantic and comic features, it failed to offer an original take on Shakespeare's ambivalent treatment of Shylock.
Recent thematic criticism regarding The Merchant of Venice has focused on issues of race, religion, and sexuality, as well as economic issues. In his examination of The Merchant of Venice as a flawed romantic comedy, Walter Cohen (1982) suggests that the play may be viewed as a reflection of the socio-economic problems in late Elizabethan English society. Through the play, Cohen argues, Shakespeare criticized the worst elements of the emerging capitalist system. Cohen additionally stresses that while the play explores social and economic issues, it remains at its core a study of love, friendship, and religion. According to Martin Japtok and Winfried Schleiner (1999), the issues of race and religion are inextricably linked in The Merchant of Venice. The critics argue that play demonstrates that “racism was already fully operational” in the late Elizabethan era, despite the fact that “race” as a concept had not been fully developed. Both Shylock and the Prince of Morocco represent the “other” in the play, the critics show, and contend that Morocco is rejected by Portia as a suitor because of his racial difference. Thomas H. Luxon (1999) also assesses the play's treatment of racial and religious otherness, focusing on Shylock and his depiction as a greedy financier. Luxon notes that Elizabethan Protestants would have regarded Shylock, his greed, and his “misreading” of the Bible as typically Jewish. The critic also finds that the disguised Portia plays the role of the “true” Jew, or Christian Jew—one who recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. Steve Patterson (1999) centers his study on the early modern concept of homoerotic friendship, demonstrating that the play's depiction of Antonio's relationship with Bassanio reflects the shifting attitudes toward this type of relationship in Shakespeare's time. Patterson asserts that homoerotic friends, which Antonio appears to be an example of, found it increasingly unacceptable to voice or act on their desires.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Cohen, Walter. “The Merchant of Venice and the Possibilities of Historical Criticism.” ELH 49, no. 4 (winter 1982): 765-89.
[In the following essay, Cohen views The Merchant of Venice as a flawed romantic comedy and suggests that the play may be viewed as a reflection of the socio-economic problems in late Elizabethan English society.]
Traditional historical scholarship has not fared well with many contemporary literary theorists. Jonathan Culler concludes: “The identification of historical sequences, while an inevitable and indispensable aspect of literary study, is not just open to oversimplification; it is itself an act of oversimplification.”1 What is rhetorically striking in this passage is the comfortable coexistence of the author's characteristic moderation with the extremity of the position. Under the influence of the work of Louis Althusser in particular and of structuralism and post-structuralism in general, similar doubts have penetrated Marxism, long a bastion of historical interpretation. Terry Eagleton argues that “Marx initiates a ‘genealogical’ break with any genetic-evolutionist conception of the historical materialist method, and, indeed, of its object—‘history’ itself.” For Eagleton, “history is not a classical narrative: for what kind of narrative is it that has always already begun, that has an infinitely deferred end, and,...
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Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: Abrams, Richard. “The Gaping Pig—and Worse: Shylock's Christian Ducats.” In Afterimages: A Festschrift in Honor of Irving Massey, edited by William Kumbier and Ann Colley, pp. 163-74. Buffalo, N.Y.: Shuffaloff, 1996.
[In the following essay, Abrams examines Shakespeare's characterization of Antonio and Shylock, suggesting that Antonio's sadness is partially an affectation and that Shylock seeks love and understanding from Antonio and Bassanio. The following essay is a revision of the original published version, which was reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 66.]
My topic is sadness in The Merchant of Venice—Jewish sadness, ultimately, though it is with Antonio's sadness that the play begins.
In sooth I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me, you say it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn. And such a want-wit sadness makes of me That I have much ado to know myself.
Of course there have been attempts at explanation. Antonio anticipates losing Bassanio; he has presentiments of disaster, or “some sort of rich man's melancholy”; he is assailed by conscience for failing to live up to his Christian code.2 All these explanations are suggestive and some work well in combination, but, to my mind, they give Antonio too...
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SOURCE: Boehrer, Bruce. “Shylock and the Rise of the Household Pet: Thinking Social Exclusion in The Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare Quarterly 50, no. 2 (summer 1999): 152-70.
[In the following essay, Boehrer studies the play's bestial language and imagery, contending that Shylock's association with a mongrel or cur informs an understanding of his role in The Merchant of Venice, including his position as an outcast and his attitude toward his social standing.]
In 1615, while visiting Cambridge University, King James I attended a public debate between John Preston and Matthew Wren on the question of “whether Dogs could make syllogismes.”1 Wren took the negative and Preston the affirmative, the latter carrying the day in part with the following argument:
an Ethymeme [sic] (said he), is a lawfull & reall syllogisme, but dogs can make them; he instanced in a Hound, who hath ye major proposition in his minde, namely, the hare is gone either this way, or that way, smells out the minor wth his nose, namely, she is not gone that way, & follows the conclusion, “Ergo,” this way, wth open mouth.2
As Keith Thomas has observed, such questions, far from being frivolous, formed “a topic of notorious philosophical perplexity” for centuries.3...
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SOURCE: Rosenshield, Gary. “Deconstructing the Christian Merchant: Antonio and The Merchant of Venice.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 20, no. 2 (2002): 28-51.
[In the following essay, Rosenshield examines Antonio's role as an economic ideal—a Christian merchant—in The Merchant of Venice.]
For several millennia conservative writers have seen their times as corrupted by a lust for material gain and thus inherently destructive of the moral, spiritual, and religious values of an idealized older order. This attitude frequently manifests itself in quixotic nostalgia, but just as often it elicits a rancorous response. One need only recall Dostoevksy's diatribe against the Jewish idea in The Diary of a Writer (March 1877), which he associates with the modern world dominated by finance and the stock market, in short, by a materialistic idea that signals the death knell of the old world of Christian love and fellowship.
Thus, it is not for nothing that over there Jews are reigning everywhere over stock exchanges; it is not for nothing that they control capital, that they are the masters of credit, and it is not for nothing—I repeat—that they are the masters of international politics, and what is going to happen in the future is only known to the Jews themselves: their reign, their complete reign is approaching! We are...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: Marks, Peter. “From Serban, the Shylock of Yesteryear, A Go-To Guy.” New York Times (13 January 1999): 1.
[In the following review of Andrei Serban's production of The Merchant of Venice for the American Repertory Theater, Marks finds Will LeBow's Shylock to be the most moving aspect of the production.]
Let Shylock be Shylock! is the unspoken motto of Andrei Serban's daringly unapologetic production of The Merchant of Venice.
Shed no tears for the Jewish moneylender of Mr. Serban's design. Shylock may be cruelly maligned by the Christian hypocrites in Shakespeare's difficult play, with its anti-Semitic overtones, but in this version he has hardly been conceived as a figure to touch the heart. Though it has become customary to render Shylock with compassion, as in Peter Hall's 1989 Broadway production, in which Dustin Hoffman's dignified pillar of a Shylock endured the taunts and a shower of spittle from his enemies, Mr. Serban breaks with modern practice and gives us something more like the sinister Shylock of yore.
Thanks to the capable conjuring of the actor Will LeBow, Shylock is imagined in this visually striking modern-dress staging at the American Repertory Theater as a Venetian go-to guy who holds the beautiful people of the canals in as much contempt as they hold him. (The performance might appeal to the literary critic Harold Bloom,...
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SOURCE: Jensen, Hal. “Merciless Qualities.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5022 (2 July 1999): 20.
[In the following review of Trevor Nunn's production of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre, Jensen describes the way Nunn's direction emphasized the isolation of the main characters and notes that Henry Goodman's praiseworthy Shylock dominated the production.]
It is difficult, from our historical vantage point, to regard The Merchant of Venice as a comedy. Hatred and cruelty, born of racial difference, are obviously not funny; but that should not exclude them from serious comic treatment. What disagrees with our present-day knowledge is the blink-of-an-eye transition from discord, malice, violence and unqualified enmity at the end of the Trial scene, to the harmonious, all-unifying, non-drama of Act Five. How can little rituals with rings, and paeans to the music of the spheres and pledges of loyalty in the fantasy world of moonlit Belmont, erase, counterbalance or transmute what has gone before? Trevor Nunn's new production confronts this difficulty by refusing to allow the last act to palliate the first four: for instance, so “attentive” are Jessica's spirits to the tranquil music of Belmont that she has to let out something between a howl and a scream, so untranquil is her soul; and when Graziano has apparently ended the play in lewd high-spirits, Portia...
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SOURCE: Wolf, Matt. Review of The Merchant of Venice. Variety 375, no. 11 (2 August 1999): 40.
[In the following review, Wolf praises the ability of Trevor Nunn, the director of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre, to sustain audience interest throughout his production.]
Among the many special relationships talked about in England, perhaps it's time to acknowledge the unique theatrical symbiosis between Shakespeare and Trevor Nunn. The Bard seems to breathe more easily when directed by Nunn, as evidenced over the better part of two decades at the Royal Shakespeare Co. and now at the National Theater. Also, as his present staging of The Merchant of Venice definably proves, Nunn has the effect on Shakespeare of wiping a time-honored canvas clean, revealing colors whose clarity is sometimes shocking: After all, when was the last time that Merchant—for all its abundant mournfulness—was packed so full of high spirits?
The larkiness of the gentile community is one of the unsettling masterstrokes of a production that has followed Olympia Dukakis in Martin Sherman's Rose as the second show in the Cottesloe studio to receive an ovation at a performance attended by this critic. True, there are moments when the casting doesn't deliver the textual insight felt throughout, and one wishes particularly for a stronger Jessica than Gabrielle Jourdan to...
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SOURCE: Smallwood, Robert. “Shakespeare Performances in England, 1998.” Shakespeare Survey 52 (1999): 229-53.
[In the following excerpted review, Smallwood observes that Gregory Doran's Stratford production of The Merchant of Venice offered no new insights into the play.]
Gregory Doran's The Merchant of Venice started as it meant to go on, with a determination to fill the space, its opening dumb-show of merchants, Jewish and Gentile, congregating on the Venetian dockside in the half light of a February day, lasting several minutes before the play's first line. With a dark mist rising and black stone walls oozing damp, cargo was examined and valued while prostitutes stood around hopefully waiting for customers: everything was for sale here, including sexual companionship; and from this we moved to the scene in which Bassanio seeks another loan from Antonio.
Doran's production had nothing particularly startling to tell us about the play, no new directorial reading to offer. In some ways it was rather safe; but what it did well was to provide actors with the chance to explore their roles in organic interaction. One saw this at once in the first scene, with Julian Curry's pale, austere, emaciated Antonio, terribly unbending but with a kind of wasted elegance, confronting Scott Handy's noisy, boisterous Bassanio. In Bassanio slid, flat on his stomach, from some bit...
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SOURCE: Simon, John. “Clever Merchandising.” New York 33, no. 6 (14 February 2000): 141, 172.
[In the following excerpted review, Simon contends that certain elements of Trevor Nunn's production of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre were bit contrived, but finds the play as a whole “mostly absorbing.”]
Trevor Nunn has been going from strength to strength at London's Royal National Theatre, where The Merchant of Venice is his latest success. Transposed to the thirties, its early scenes take place in a café or nightspot where “What news on the Rialto?” is aptly asked of a newspaper reader. Here, two bar girls entertain with a droll pop song, and Lancelot Gobbo delivers his monologue as a cabaret act with music to surprisingly good effect.
Nunn has cleverly turned Shylock into a father not above slapping his grown daughter, which helps justify Jessica's defection. Yet, affectingly, Nunn later allows her a twinge of remorse. Small, subtle touches abound, as when Jessica's evidently first taste of champagne makes the girl choke. Less felicitous is the swimsuit scene by Portia's pool, or the absence of all things Venetian until, quite late, we hear a concert of seagulls.
Some things are too contrived. Thus the court allows Shylock to approach Antonio's bared chest, knife in hand, without demur; in another second, blood could be shed....
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SOURCE: Klein, Alvin. “The Arguable Comedy in Merchant of Venice.” New York Times (5 November 2000): NJ11.
[In the following review, Klein assesses Richard Corley's production of The Merchant of Venice for the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, contending that although it attempted to develop the play's romantic and comic features, it failed to offer an original take on Shakespeare's ambivalent treatment of Shylock.]
No kidding, The Merchant of Venice is a comedy.
Categorically speaking, that's not news to Shakespearean mavens, but it's invariably a surprise. The play is not a comic read, and it is rarely played for laughs. Richard Corley, the director of the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival's production here, seems hell-bent on proving that Merchant is merry and very romantic. We don't have to believe it, but it's a fair try.
In one of those audience-friendly surveys that theaters are obliged to conduct randomly to show they care about what audiences want to see, the festival has come up with a finding that astounds. A news release says that, in recent years, the one most requested play in the canon is not Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet. It is not even Titus Andronicus. No kidding, it is The Merchant of Venice. That Shakespeare's distressing, in many ways unfathomable, and, after more than 400 years, still hotly...
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SOURCE: Smallwood, Robert. “Shakespeare Performances in England, 1999.” Shakespeare Survey 53 (2000): 244-73.
[In the following excerpted review, Smallwood describes Trevor Nunn's production of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre as brilliant, and praises the principal actors, particularly Henry Goodman's Shylock.]
There was no such sense of a one-man show about the National Theatre ensemble's second Shakespeare of the year, a production, again directed by Trevor Nunn, of The Merchant of Venice at the Cottesloe Theatre, played in traverse mode. Hildegard Bechtler's design placed the Venetian scenes of the play in the middle of the traverse in a Cabaret world of thirties dance music, elegant café tables on a black and white chequered floor, much drinking of champagne, the noisy young men of the Christian community in an impressive range of well-cut suits and blacks such as Lancelot Gobbo doing the menial jobs (again the rejection of the ‘blind casting’ principle). At one end of the traverse, Belmont was a place of chic opulence, fashionable (and slightly sexy) murals, stiff cocktails, and Portia's first batch of suitors (the ‘Neapolitan Prince’ and his fellows) presented, wearing a fine selection of elegant hats, on a home cine-projector; at the opposite end was the humble, well-locked door to Shylock's house, with its photograph of Leah between candles on a...
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SOURCE: James, Caryn. “Shylock and Portia Speak to All Eras.” New York Times 151, no. 51900 (8 October 2001): E8.
[In the following review, James praises Trevor Nunn's adaptation of The Merchant of Venice for PBS, including Henry Goodman's “mesmerizing” Shylock and Derbhle Crotty's “commanding” Portia.]
Revenge, justice, mercy. Words that seem socially and politically charged today were already resonating through The Merchant of Venice, a play so deeply rooted in an enduring question—how should justice, mercy and vengeance be balanced?—that it speaks to any number of historical crises, including our own. Trevor Nunn's inspired idea was to transplant the play to the 1930's, when World War II was looming and anti-Semitism was bluntly expressed.
Stylishly set in cafe society, this astute Merchant gets the new season of “Masterpiece Theater” off to a smashing, unexpectedly relevant start. (The series has moved to Monday nights on PBS.)
Mr. Nunn's Merchant was first presented at the Royal National Theater in 1999, and despite a few cinematic flourishes it remains unapologetically stage-bound. The actors have modulated their performances for the camera, which frequently closes in on their faces, but the set design is spare. This theatrical version is so vibrant and rich, however, that it makes you wish you had seen it onstage....
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SOURCE: Young, Toby. “Won Over.” Spectator 287, no. 9040 (10 November 2001): 88-9.
[In the following excerpted review of Loveday Ingram's feminist production of The Merchant of Venice, Young states that the male characters were too emasculated to be credibly seen as romantic figures.]
Jews are treated a good deal less sympathetically in the Royal Shakespeare Company's latest production of The Merchant of Venice. As directed by Loveday Ingram, Shylock is a villain of the first water and it takes all the ingenuity of Portia, played as a heroic mother-figure by Hermione Gulliford, to save Antonio and Bassanio from his clutches. This is an unashamedly feminist reading of the play, and, while it serves to enliven the courtroom confrontation between Shylock and Portia, the male principals are left so emasculated it's difficult to take them seriously as romantic figures. Bassanio (Paul Hickey), in particular, is so wet I was left scratching my head as to why this fire-breathing Portia shows any interest in him.
There are some superb performances, though. Ian Fielder invests Antonio with such authority I couldn't take my eyes off him and Ian Bartholomew's Shylock seethes with embittered hatred. However, the performer who really stands out is Chris Jarman, who has a brief cameo as the Prince of Morocco, one of Portia's unsuccessful suitors. His all too brief appearance, in...
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SOURCE: Luxon, Thomas H. “A Second Daniel: The Jew and the ‘True Jew’ in The Merchant of Venice.” Early Modern Literary Studies 4, no. 3 (January 1999): 3.1-37.
[In the following essay, Luxon investigates the play's treatment of Jews within the context of late Elizabethan society's attitudes toward Jewishness as both race and religion.]
Two recent studies of Shakespeare and early modern attitudes towards Jews come to remarkably different conclusions on the question of whether or not The Merchant of Venice is an anti-Jewish play.1 James Shapiro's richly historical Shakespeare and the Jews offers fascinating evidence about the scope and complexity of anti-Jewish attitudes embedded in the “cultural moment” of Shakespeare's play (Shapiro 10), but he shies away from directly accusing either playwright or play of promoting or trading on anti-semitism, claiming that such terms are “anachronistic … inventions of nineteenth-century racial theory” and thus, “fundamentally ill-suited for gauging what transpired three hundred years earlier” (11). The objection is important; modern discourses about race are significantly different from their early modern religious forbears. However, this does not render questions like “Is the play intentionally anti-Jewish?” irrelevant. Does the play invite us to share Antonio's attitudes toward Jews? Does it mean us to regard...
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SOURCE: Patterson, Steve. “The Bankruptcy of Homoerotic Amity in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare Quarterly 50, no. 1 (spring 1999): 9-32.
[In the following essay, Patterson maintains that The Merchant of Venice analyzes the early modern tradition of male homoerotic friendship through Antonio's frustrated passion for Bassanio.]
Rather famously, The Merchant of Venice opens with a pitiful Antonio bemoaning his outcast state but unable to articulate just what has caused his disenchantment. His very identity seems to be at stake as he complains, “I have much ado to know myself” (1.1.7).1 Indeed, his worries over how much and in what terms he matters in Venice may be much ado about nothing—about the possibility of his being nothing. Antonio speaks as a man at odds with the changing values of his culture, someone whose role as virtuous friend has no serious register with his fellow men but whose identity as merchant has premium value. He has entered the stage in dialogue with himself as much as with his two companions, and as the scene progresses, Antonio is repeatedly unable to connect with those he encounters. His melancholy is diagnosed immediately as an effect of money woes by Salerio and Solanio, who swoon over their histrionic visions of how the course of a rich merchant's humors is surely tied to the swell of his argosies' sails. In keeping...
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SOURCE: Japtok, Martin and Winfried Schleiner. “Genetics and ‘Race’ in The Merchant of Venice.” Literature and Medicine 18, no. 2 (1999): 155-72.
[In the following essay, the critics argue that The Merchant of Venice demonstrates that “racism was already fully operational” in the late Elizabethan era, despite the fact that “race” as a concept had not been fully developed.]
Can a cultural historian of Shakespeare's period speak about genetics and eugenics in relation to Jews and Moors? Not only did words like Jews, Moors, and race mean something different then from what they have meant since the nineteenth century, but a glance at a historical dictionary will tell us that the term genetics did not yet exist.1 Therefore it might be the better part of valor for us as cultural historians to avoid such terms and, someone might suggest, even such topics altogether. The alternative is to sin boldly, i.e., to do what “really” shouldn't be done, but not naively, rather with the consciousness of stretching what is permissible. Some fears are productive, and taking some comfort from Claude J. Summers's essay on the early modern scholar's anxieties of anachronism, we hope to negotiate the narrow path between the Scylla of anachronism and the Charybdis of pedantry.2 Can we talk about notions of genetics in Shakespeare or about notions of...
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Anderson, Douglas. “The Old Testament Presence in The Merchant of Venice.” ELH 52, no. 1 (spring 1985): 119-32.
Contends that Shakespeare's depiction and understanding of forgiveness in The Merchant of Venice is modeled on Shylock's faith.
Barthelemy, Anthony G. “Luxury, Sodomy and Miscegenation: English Perceptions of Venice in The Merchant of Venice.” In Shakespeare and Intertextuality: The Transition of Cultures Between Italy and England in the Early Modern Period, edited by Michele Marrapodi, pp. 165-77. Rome: Bulzoni, 2000.
Examines the ways in which The Merchant of Venice explores sexual, racial, and religious otherness, arguing that Shakespeare's Venice is in some ways reflective of Elizabethan England.
Coolidge, John S. “Law and Love in The Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare Quarterly 27, no. 3 (summer 1976): 243-63.
Maintains that The Merchant of Venice may be interpreted as a hermeneutic play which represents the conflict between Christianity and Judaism for ownership of Hebrew scriptures.
Echeruo, Michael J. C. “Shylock and the ‘Conditioned Imagination’: A Reinterpretation.” Shakespeare Quarterly 22, no. 1 (winter 1971): 3-15.
Explores the influence of Marlowe's The Jew...
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