If we probe into what Jim O’Rourke over at Florida State University calls the late 16th century “micro-politics” of Tudor England, we arrive at the interplay of Elizabethan prejudice, humor and self-hatred. O’Rourke is engaged in a debate with other scholars and his goal is to re-frame The Merchant of Venice as an anti-racist work that was written in response to the high profile case of Francis Bacon and Rodrigo Lopez in 1594, but his efforts are most helpful in localizing the themes of xenophobia and homophobia in the immediate historical moment of the play. Continue reading
A father who wishes his own daughter dead for spending running off and spending his money? Doesn’t sound like the type of guy who’s winning any father of the year awards. Continue reading
Re-imagining Shakespeare is not a new concept. Just recently, the Dartmouth College Department of Theater reimagined Romeo and Juliet as a more experimental production, setting it in a rehearsal studio and using video cameras to record the action, so that the audience watches the actors both on stage and on monitors and a large video screen. Peter Hackett, the director of the winter main stage, wanted to highlight the less-obvious more salient aspects that are not as often explored in a traditional Shakespearean manner. Challenging the conventional view, Hackett wanted the audience to ponder and be critical of what was being presented to them on stage. “It forces you as an audience not to sit back and have your expectations met. … I hope the effect is that it makes you listen to what is being said,” Hackett said.
In Mobile Carnival Theatre Company’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, director Brent Murrill, like Dartmouth theater director Peter Hackett, reimagined Shakespeare’s traditional setting in a more contemporary fixture.
Post Holocaust Interpretation
The Holocaust permanently changed the perspective from which ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is read. It ended the debate as to whether Shylock is a victim or a villain. Shylock is a victim, and to say otherwise would be wrong, both morally and analytically. Continue reading
Jessica is doubly distinguished. Unlike her father, Shylock, she is said to be gentle; at once noble and gentile. Yet, she remains a daughter to Shylock’s blood despite her conversion. According to Mary Metzger, representations of Jessica turn on alternating characterizations of her as a latent Christian and as a racialized and thus unintegrable Jew. Until recently, discussions of race or Jewishness in the Merchant tended to focus on Shylock, thus ignoring the intersection of religion, gender, and class. Metzger argues that, in order to elucidate The Merchant’s relation to early modern England’s emerging ideology of race, attention must be paid to the shifting emphases on discourses of gender, class, and religion in Shakespeare’s representation of Jessica. Continue reading
The Rothschild family has been recently highlighted in the media due to the very recent nuptials of young James Rothschild to Nicky Hilton, “hotel heiress” daughter to the famous Hilton family, and sister to the infamous reality star and socialite Paris Hilton. The two were married this past weekend on July 10th. Although Hilton is likely a more familiar name to many Americans (or at least associated with more notoriety), the Rothschild family has a history much longer and a fortune much grander than the Hiltons’.
In fact, the Rothschild family is one of the oldest and largest banking families in the world. They also happen to be Jewish. Continue reading
In the article, “The Problem of More-than-one: Friendship, Calculation, and Political Association in the Merchant of Venice” by Henry S. Turner, Turner discusses the political perspective of the play in terms of friendship, calculation and decision, and justice. He discusses the question of the relationship between friendship and democracy, and how “The Merchant of Venice” may show slight traces of modern democracy throughout the play. One point that I found particularly interesting is the idea of the quantum of friendship and how that relates to value in terms of numbers and the blurred lines from which that value comes about. This lack of clarity can be seen in the play in the recurring issues of self-interest versus love and friendship. Continue reading
In The Merchant of Venice, Portia, an affluent and quick-witted heiress from Belmont, aids in rescuing Antonio from his legal plight with Shylock. The fates of people around Portia shift constantly, while her situation generally improves without problem. Portia’s actions through the play embody Fortuna’s whimsical interest in humanity. Continue reading
Written in 1596, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice teems with anti semitism. Interestingly, however, during Shakespeare’s life time there were no Jews in England—they had been expelled from the country in 1290 and were not permitted to resettle until 1665. Why, then, would Shakespeare write one of the Merchant of Venice’s most pivotal characters as a Jew? And what was the religious and political climate that inspired him to create Shylock as such an unsavory character? Continue reading
June 7th 1594—ten years before the first performance of The Merchant of Venice. Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, who some suspect inspired the character of Shylock, awaits his execution. His formal charge is treason against the Queen—attempt to poison, supposedly. His second, more subjective charge is obvious to the angry crowd delighting in his death. Lopez probably didn’t attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth; he did, however, convert from Judaism to Christianity—neither of which the public believes. The crowd and court ignore his pleads of innocence on both religious and criminal charges. Continue reading