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I never did repent for doing good

I never did repent for doing good


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A Companion to Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice

David Ian Hopp

BookSurge Publishing Charleston South Carolina

Library of Congress Control Number: 2009904395 Library of Congress Provisional Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hopp, David I., 1936 I never did repent for doing good A Companion to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice / David I. Hopp. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-4392-4073-6 (pbk.) Subjects: Shakespeare, William 1564-1616. --Criticism and interpretation. --Merchant of Venice. --Characters. --Jews. --Gentiles. --Sources. Jews in Literature. English drama. --Early modern. --History and criticism. Venice (Italy). --In literature. England. --16th century. --Economic conditions. --Religion. Religion in literature.

Copyright 2009 David I. Hopp. All rights reserved. Printed and bound in the United States of America BookSurge Publishing Charleston South Carolina 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Dedication taking a very slight liberty with a sentence of Sir Charles Oman, published in the year of my birth: . . . though I feel impelled to put in order the impressions which much reading and pondering have left with me, I do not pretend to link these impressions into any theory of meaning. And to my dear wife Susan for her toleration of my solipsistic self, often missing from conversation and other simple tasks.

SOURCES The Merchant of Venice


Quotations from The Merchant of Venice use the text of A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice, edited by H.H. Furness, published by J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1888 with many reprintings. This is in the public domain and thus more in the spirit that befits a work of such lasting cultural value than are the more recent copyrighted editions. I have referred to the 1600 Quarto to resolve some idiosyncratic choices that appear in the Variorum edition. I have made minor alterations to modernize spelling and conform to present day expectations of punctuation. There are a few places where the sense can be altered by punctuation. The best way to assess which variety of punctuation you prefer is to read the lines aloud using the punctuation to indicate breaths. If you wish to go further, look at a few modern editions and decide which you like best. For the ease of the reader, line numbers are based on The Arden Shakespeare edition of this play (and my favorite). Line numbers are only guides because all editors have their own ways of deciding what is or is not a line.

Translation of the Bible


All quotations in the Companion are from the 1560 Geneva Bible. The Bishops Bible was in the churches, but the people of Shakespeares time were likely using the Geneva Bible. It was often printed and reasonably priced, and decidedly Protestant. The King James Version was not published until 1611. While the Geneva Bible lacks the beauty of the King James Version, it is particularly interesting because of its extensive marginalia and it stayed in use for quite a long time.

Il Pecorone and Gesta Romanorum


The most convenient source for these is The Arden Shakespeare version of The Merchant of Venice.

MATTHEW 5:38-48 FROM THE 1560 GENEVA BIBLE


38 Ye haue heard that it hathe been aid, An eye for an eye, & a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I ay vnto you, Re i t not euil:but whosoeuer hal mite thee on thy right cheke,turne to him the other alo. 40 And if anie man wil ue thee at the law, and take away thy coate,let him haue thy cloke alo. 41 And whooeuer wil compell thee to go a mile,go with him twaine. 42 Giue to him that aketh,and from him wolde borow of thee,turne not away. 43 Ye haue heard that it hathe bene aid, Thou halt loue thy neighbor,and hate thine enemie. 44 But I ay vnto you, Loue your enemies: blee them that cure you:do good to th that hate you, and praye for them which hurt you,and perecute you, 45 That ye may be the childr of your Father that is in heauen : for he maketh his unne to arie on the euil , and the good, and endeth raine on the iu te,& vniu te. 46 For if ye loue them , which loue you, what rewarde hal you haue? Do not the Publicanes euen the ame? 47 And if ye be friendlie to your brethr onely, what ingular thing do ye ? do not euen the Publicanes likewie? 48 Ye hal therefore be perfite,as your Father which is in heauen,is perfite.

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction 1 Read This First 2 2 Sixteenth Century England 7 Part II Reading the Play 3 Entrances and Exits 17 4 Impressions 24 5 Antonio What Kind of Person is He? 30 6 Portia The Take Charge Lady 38 7 Shylock Man of Many Faces 46 8 Bassanio Scholar, Soldier, Fortune Hunter? 56 9 Jessica Salvation or Escape? 62 10 Gratiano (and Lancelot) 70 11 Music and Food (or is it Eating?) 77 12 Us and Them 86 Part III Interludes 13 Elizabethan Prose 94 14 Alternative Treatments of Usury and Jews 101 15 Shakespeare Practices Reuse 107 16 A Search for Truth or is it for Certainty? 118 17 Usury, Interest, Business . . . 127 18 What Becomes of Shylock? 132 Part IV Sources 19 Christopher Marlowe's Jew of Malta 136 20 Il Pecorone Italy Comes to England 148 21 Gesta Romanorum and the Caskets 155 22 Reading the Two Testaments 160 Part V In Conclusion 23 Read This Last 172 Bibliography 176 Index 182

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice

Part I INTRODUCTION
MOTH [a page]: They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps. COSTARD [a clown]: O! They have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flapdragon. Love's Labour's Lost 5.1.32

. . . the change in the balance of social forces was gradual, and the adjustment of traditional social ideas to the new situation was more gradual still. R.H. Tawney, A Discourse upon Usury by Thomas Wilson, 1925

To call oneself, or be called, black or British or Irish or Jewish is not a neutral statement of the obvious but a political and historical assertion, with implications for ones rights and relationships. R. Bartlett, Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2001.

I never did repent for doing good

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READ THIS FIRST
The essence of our experience is our haunting sense of what doesnt fit the thesis we are tempted at every moment to derive. If one hallmark of an authentic work of art and a central sense of its power is its ability to drive us to search out its central mystery, another way may be its ultimate irreducibility to a schema. Norman Rabkin, Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning, 1981 1981 University of Chicago

In 1596 or 1597 Shakespeares theater company produced a play called The Merchant of Venice, although exactly what the banner across the stage said is a matter of argument. But then, so is almost everything else about the play. What is it about? Is it a comedy or a tragedy? Is it layer on layer of irony and metaphor or a straightforward and crass attempt to get a paying audience through the door? My goal in this book is to provide you with a companion to the play that will help you reach your own answers about its nature. I will visit some of its sources, its relation to the current events of the 1590s, and some of its substance that may at first be overlooked. I will, in particular, focus on getting to know the characters in the play, who they are and what they are doing. Lets start with the most popular characterization of this play, that The Merchant of Venice is a romantic comedy steeped in irony and satire. Modern audiences, though, find it difficult to see the humor in what we now call antiSemitism, and what was then commonplace in speech and writing. It is a comedy in part because all the major characters, except the Jew Shylock and the merchant Antonio, exit the play paired and happy, and Antonio at least has a place in Belmont. Portia is the central figure but Shylock, his comic character engaging in plotting and predatory actions and the butt of crass, anti-Jewish invective, may just be too large for the play. Even though he has vanished before the live-happily-ever-after last act, he belongs to that company of characters so fully developed by Shakespeare that we can feel them as human beings. Of those humanized constructions it is Hamlet and Shylock who have by far generated the most inspection, controversy, and interpretation for centuries. Hamlet appears the more complex and ambiguous, his soliloquies and actions demanding repeated reading and

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice

scrutinizing, his presence in the play more than a mere character. Shylock, though, is deceptively simple, the depth of his character, and of the entire play, emerging like an image in a foggy mirror and the play proving to be much more than a comedy. The complexity of this play is not only in its characters, but in the avalanche of themes it explores: exchange, commercial and interpersonal; money and the attitudes people have toward it; the human body, as used, or misused, by Shylock and the merchant; a persons identity and the ability, or lack thereof, to change it; the role of men and women in marriage; interpretation of words and actions; appearance and what is really there; the power of the ruler to forgive; the advantages of being English and Protestant; friendship, law, mercy, oaths and more. The subtlety of this and other Shakespeare plays is integral and intentional, not incidental or accidental. Shakespeare is well described by Norman Rabkin as having the remarkable inability to draw the simple and obvious moral, the meaning from complex stories. Shakespeare saw the many sides to any question, and he sympathized with men and women of all classes and abilities. I might add that he was not one to allow hypocrisy to pass in silence. This companion is a different kind of book than most. You are welcome indeed you are encouraged to read the chapters in any order. If your English history needs some brushing up, it would help to read the chapter Sixteenth Century England first. The other chapters are organized in sections for convenience. Sources are the stories and plays from which Shakespeare borrowed. Reading the Play concentrates on closely following the text of the play. Interludes are additional and hopefully informative commentaries. Start at the beginning and go to the end, or open the book to whatever sounds interesting. Its up to you. Following Shakespeares practice of reuse, there is a substantial amount of redundancy. You will find various chapters treating the same matters in similar but not quite the same ways. This reflects Shakespeares way of slowly revealing the characters of his creations. He was not one to treat his audiences as children nor his characters as stick-figures. So read the chapters in any order and build up for yourself a complete view of the play. What is here is not scholarly criticism, of which there are already hundreds of feet of library shelves as well as innumerable journal articles. If you would like to read criticism I recommend Harold Bloom. His critiques are accessible and enjoyable, and Joan Holmer for those stalwarts seeking criticism with a magnifying glass. Marjorie Garbers fine critiques are somewhere in between. For accessible scholarship on the position of Jews in 16th century England, I suggest James Shapiro and Mary Janell Metzger.

SOURCES AND INFLUENCES


What really concerns is that, in this poem [Troilus and Criseyde], Chaucer,

I never did repent for doing good


though still playing the part of hermit-crab - in a manner strange to modern notions, but constantly practiced in medieval times and by no means unusual in Shakespeare - has quite transformed the house which he borrowed and peopled it with quite different inhabitants. George Saintsbury in Chaucer, in The Cambridge History of English Literature Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages, 1908

In reading this and other plays of Shakespeare it becomes evident that he had hardly any original plots. In our twenty-first century, imitation and borrowing run along the lines of plagiarism. In Elizabethan England education was founded upon imitation as the way to excellence. Authors freely borrowed from the classics, from stories of other countries, from works of the past and histories. Seeing what Shakespeare borrowed, the changes he made, the materials he chose to use and what he did with them, is a view into the nature of his originality. The sources and influences I will present to you include The Jew of Malta, by Shakespeares contemporary and competitor Christopher Marlowe; the fourteenth century Italian Il Pecorone; the thirteenth century collection of stories, Gesta Romanorum; a novel from 1580, Zelauto, by Anthony Munday; the Bible, and others as they might be of interest. Be assured there are more. I will also visit other plays of Shakespeare because he borrowed from himself, too. This makes it fun having Aha! moments in recognizing some theme or expression appearing in another of his plays. The chapter Sixteenth Century England looks at the times in which Shakespeare lived, characterized by the difficulties of life in the late sixteenth century, the rise of capitalism, and the confusion of religious and national identities. But why spend time on sources and the events of those long gone times? After all, a play is what it is. That is true only to a degree. We bring our selves to a play, our personal selves, our cultural selves, our language, our history, just as Shakespeare and his audiences brought themselves. In our time, at the beginning of a new century, multi-culturalism is in vogue, bringing with it both respect for otherness and a bland homogeneity. In Elizabethan times the idea of tolerance of other religions and even of varieties of Christianity was incomprehensible, but there was the energy of the discovery of new worlds and possibilities. They lived in their present, not in our past.

PLAYS TO BE HEARD AND SEEN


Modern English is the fitting medium of an age which leaves little unexplained; while Elizabethan English stands for an age too hasty to analyze what it felt. A.W. Ward and A.R. Waller, The Cambridge History of English Literature, Volume III, 1908

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice

Keep in mind that Shakespeares plays were written to be performed on the stage, to be heard and seen rather than read. We are accustomed to novels and short stories that provide all kinds of situational tidbits, such as facial expression, posture, descriptions of clothing, and so on. With Shakespeare it is the theater, the productions themselves, that provide that kind of packaging. Unfortunately (or perhaps not) the early printed editions of the plays had little in the way of stage directions, which has led to so very many different productions over the centuries. Take the time to read the plays aloud. Keep a mental picture of who is on stage and what they might be doing. Try to see productions in a theater if you can, or at least watch recordings. The Elizabethan stage was spare, with change of locale created mainly by the words of the play. Changes of rhythm and breaks in flow were signs to the audience that something was happening, harder for our ears to detect as we are so accustomed to the visual. Boys played the parts of all Shakespeares women. Their speeches were written to accommodate their voices, less capable of length, intensity, and emotional complexity than were the men in the company. This adds another layer of subtlety particularly to Portias long speeches. Many of Shakespeares plays were first printed quite a few years after their production and their sources were often incomplete or unreliable. Scholars still argue about punctuation, spelling, and even competing candidates for particular words as they compare editions. English has many words that sound alike but no one could see the spelling of a word as it was being spoken. If there are homonyms, they are there for effect, not for confusion. The early printings did not have act or scene divisions. Elizabethan theater was a more seamless production than we are accustomed to, punctuated perhaps by all the actors leaving the stage or some necessary but minimal scenery change. The five act format we have now was added by printers as a reflection of classical influences that were familiar to playwrights of the time. Neither the playwright nor the Queen were the cultural icons they became later. Shakespeare was just one playwright when play-going was popular. Elizabeth I had the wide-based admiration and loyalty of the English people, but she also had detractors in the nobility and amongst radical Protestants. Even her dedicated councilors were frequently frustrated by her procrastination, parsimony, and changes of direction. One last comment on this particular play must be made, one that takes us out of history and theater and into brutal reality. In 1290, some three centuries before The Merchant of Venice was first staged, the Jews of England had been expelled by King Edward I. Prior to that, they had been the targets of popular violence and cynical financial extortion, a pattern oftrepeated on the Continent. The fate of Jews in some Italian cities was better, and at least some became an essential part of the growing capitalism of early modern times. Three and a half centuries after the staging of our play an

I never did repent for doing good

event of such magnitude took place that The Merchant of Venice would henceforth be received differently than Shakespeare could have imagined. The Holocaust, more efficient and effective than anything a medieval king could have dreamt, irrevocably illuminated the hiddenmost recesses of the civilized nations of the West. Shylock continues in a farcical dance with the privileged citizens of his city. But those citizens can no longer repair to drawing room or ale house without realizing that their actions have consequences. The text of Matthew 5:38-48, with which this Companion is prefaced, remains as much a challenge today as it was for Reformation England. And now on to Shakespeare's England.

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice

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SIXTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND
My focus here is on the events and conditions in sixteenth century England that play a role in The Merchant of Venice either explicitly or as shadows. The Merchant of Venice was first produced in 1596 or 1597, in the middle of a decade of crisis throughout Europe. Food sources and distribution methods were inadequate to supply a rapidly growing population, and there were several years when bad weather severely impacted agricultural production. Diseases, such as plague and typhoid, devastated populations. In England, four of those ten years saw death rates at least 20 percent above the long-term trend. Life spans were short at best, forty years being the expectation if you made it through childhood. On a more pragmatic level, the buying power of English wage earners suffered particularly in the latter half of the decade. These pressures made life hard for anyone and particularly for those who depended on wages. Death, famine, and disease were never far from sight, and any nation fortunate that could avoid war on its own territory. Looking at 1595, for which there are some useful records, we can see a worried government faced with riots in London over high prices and dearth. A few years before, in 1592, plague had burst out in London and killed more than 10 percent of the population, and it would revisit English cities several more times. Between the macro pan-European problems, structural strains in the government, and micro problems in London, life was difficult enough. Added to that were conscriptions for military service, increased immigration into London from the countryside, and vagrants, many of whom were discharged soldiers and sailors. London was a metropolis. It extended well beyond the City, growing because of inward migration, not through high birth rates. Public sanitation was or might as well have been non-existent and water supplies were contaminated, making beer and wine essential beverages for survival. Perishable foods could not be stored, agricultural methods were inefficient and obtaining food from even the nearby countryside, over a decrepit road system, added further inefficiencies. Overcrowding, lack of clean water, poor sanitation and vermin, all created a hospitable environment for infectious

I never did repent for doing good

diseases. Typhus and diphtheria were always a threat. Plague, hosted by rats and transmitted by fleas but readily contagious once a person was sickened was never gone, just quiescent until it broke forth to kill thousands. 1 On the other hand, London was a city of the young and provided plenty of entertainment in spite of the long working hours for most of the population. There were all sorts of ways to spend money on fun and distractions including alehouses, cock fighting, bear-baiting, brothels, bowling, as well as the free shows of public executions, spectacles on the Thames, and for those with patience, the final stages of Star Chamber trials. The stage competed with all of these for money and time, and had to be pleasing. What appealed to playgoers changed rapidly, indeed, play-going had only started in the 1570s and quickly became popular. Plays became dated within a few years, so playwrights had to be imaginative and productive. In the view of some radical Protestants, plays were sinful distractions and theaters should be prohibited. The City of London government often tried to close them, considering them places where apprentices and trouble-makers wasted their time. The plague occasionally closed the theaters, but it was 1642 before the Puritans made good their intentions to shut them down by ordinance.

THE MARCH OF THE TUDORS TOWARD PROTESTANTISM


Henry VIII and his children, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, between them ruled for nearly the entire sixteenth century. In the space of the more or less quarter century spanning these reigns, the English saw four changes of state religion. Henry VIII began as a staunch Catholic. That enthusiasm, however, bowed to the Kings desire to divorce his first wife, take another, and keep trying for a male heir. This wasn't just the King's ego, it was his goal to assure the continued societal stability that an uncontested Tudor line would provide. The disruptive Wars of the Roses civil wars of the previous century were something no one wanted to live through again. By 1533, as part of the gradual but momentous break with Rome that he had undertaken, Parliament declared the King the only Supreme Head in earth of the Church of England. The Reformation had come to England, and the new Church would be moderately Protestant with no place for the Pope or the apparatus in Rome. Hardly incidentally, Henry VIII also appropriated the Old Churchs massive wealth, including much property and the revenues derived from them. The King undertook a large-scale redistribution of wealth
1 John Milton, in Paradise Lost published in 1667, expresses his distaste in Book IX, 445, As one who long in populous City pent / Where Houses thick and Sewers annoy the Air There is a passing mention of the open sewers of London in The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, Act 1, Scene 2, line 60, as the melancholy of Moorditch. Book X of Paradise Lost, 478 ff., is a catalog of medieval and early modern illnesses, ghastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualms of heart-sick Agony, all feverous kinds, Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs, Intestine Stone and Ulcer, etc.

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice

by selling much of this property to the nobility, gentry (a landed class but not part of the nobility), and yeomen whose support he wanted, and to raise cash to fight his Continental battles. An unintended consequence was the destruction of the charitable mechanisms the Old Church had maintained for hundreds of years. This evoked frustrated if cautiously stated appeals from clerics who had supported the reformation in the expectation, or at least the hope, that some part of the appropriated wealth would go to the poor. The new Church appeared to be firmly settled and would truly be of England. The presence of Catholics in England would be permitted, but they ran the risk of being seen as opposed to the King, a most precarious position. Regardless of appearances, however, the Church of Englands very existence, what it was and how it was defined, depended on the strong personality of Henry VIII. This was a reformation from above, enforced by the coercive powers of the state. Accordingly, it did not hum along unattended after the Kings death in 1547. Edward VI, Henry VIIIs only son, became king in 1547 when nine years old. He died, still young, in 1553. Under his protectorship there was a more disruptive Protestantism than had been the case with his father. The adamantly Catholic Mary Tudor, Henry VIIIs daughter by his first wife, became Englands first ruling queen in 1553. She and her advisors set out to reverse the religious policies her father and her half-brother had put into place. Among other steps, the Queen revived the old heresy laws in 1554. There followed from 1555 through 1558 the martyrdom of some 288 Protestants. There were even a few instances of the bones of clerics being burned with all the ceremony of real martyrdom, even though they had died of natural causes, in their beds. The number, the short interval of time, and the enthusiasm that accompanied some of the executions earned the Queen the unforgiving remembrance as Bloody Mary. Elizabeth I became queen in 1558 upon the death of her half-sister and returned the Church of England to its central role. During her rule religious guidance was built around a Protestant, reformed ministry. Many of these men had left England to imbibe the radical Protestantism on the Continent, returning upon Mary Is providential demise. England looked on itself as the New Israel. There was a feeling in England that a reformation could have begun two centuries before when John Wyclif (d. 1384) formulated and espoused theological views that were ultimately restated by Luther. One historian of religion puts it this way, The faith now preached in England had been brought to its shores directly from the apostles, embraced and fostered through the ages by native kings, beset time and again by alien, misbelieving tyrants and intruders, but never totally rooted out. Now it was once more being revived and sustained by a godly prince (Haller). Elizabeth appears to have taken her religious beliefs seriously, although her own particular profession is less than clear (she kept much of her personal life to herself), leaving contemporaries and historians plenty to speculate and argue about.

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AN AGE OF CONFESSIONALISM
The question of compromise with Rome was in no mans mind. Rome offered no compromise; the English prelates of the period neither desired compromise nor conceived it to be possible. . . . Elizabeth, caring little for the purely theological issues, desired to retain the external pomp of the Papal Church as befitting the dignity of a sovereign; the men who clambered into high office in the Church wished for the reformed creed, a simplified worship, but retaining all the emoluments and administrative authority of the displaced Roman prelates. The evangelical reformers, however, would have cleared the Prayer Book of all reminiscences of Rome; would have banished the official vestments of ministers . . . Prelacy they would have utterly destroyed . . . William Pierce, An Historical Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts, 1908

In this Age of Confessionalism, Catholicism and Protestantism remained antithetical. On the Continent they were murderously opposed. In England the Protestant state worried about Catholics, but there was no wholesale violence. Elizabeth undertook a middle way aimed at maintaining a most happy and quiet government and avoiding social disruption. Her middle way, even at the objection of many clerics, allowed for Catholics if they attended the Church of England services or paid fines and kept their true beliefs private. She was, though, always contending with zealots on both sides, radical Protestants (Puritans) and Catholic defenders of the old ways. As for the people as a whole, they were pragmatically adapting to the combined forces of Crown and Protestant clergy. The majority of English men and women were probably fence sitters, not convinced that any particular profession was preferred by God. Preaching, rather than the liturgy as in former times, was the centerpiece of church services as well as a popular form of entertainment. Some preachers drew large attendance from outside their own neighborhoods, and sermons were probably the most common publication. Attendance at religious services was mandatory, although fines could be substituted. However, the historical record is much more complete on the intentions of church and state and much less so on their effectiveness. Outside the cities there was a widespread lack of qualified reformed clergy and poor attendance at services in rural areas was an ongoing concern to the church hierarchy. Literacy, galvanized by the printing press, was a hallmark of the sixteenth century. Although the proportion of literate people is uncertain, the Bible and the prayer book became available in English, and the vernacular was used for all kinds of publications. The Bible was the center of religion, with copies available in all churches and also to anyone with the money to buy it. One of Elizabeths earliest royal proclamations stated that each parish would be provided with one book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in

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English . . . [and that it should be located so that] parishioners may most commodiously resort unto the same and read the same, out of the time of common service. The desire to read was enhanced by another book that appeared in almost all churches, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This was the detailed, long (there were two volumes in the 1570 edition, amounting to some 1,500 pages) story of the church in England from ancient times. It as well told of the Protestants who had died during Mary Is reign. It presented the current Protestant version of the meaning of the history of England. Religious conformity was no longer a beneficiary of a Latin Bible mediated by the Church, and England joined the typical Protestant amalgam of biblical fundamentalism and insular patriotism found all across Europe. Religious arguments were fought out in print, not without the occasional execution of a printer, making literacy a means of entertainment and enlightenment. There was plenty of religious controversy, and the forwardness of the Puritans in Parliament became expressed by its advocates as a matter of freedom of speech. In 1593 Elizabeth I reminded Parliament that there were limits even when it was in session, saying, For liberty of speech [did not extend to] frame a form of religion or a state of government as to their idle brains shall seem of interest. The Queens blunt language seems to have been a Tudor trait, as her half-sister, Mary I, had spoken similarly forty years before, forbidding . . . all her subjects of all degrees at their perils to move seditions or to stir unquietness in her people by interpreting the laws of this realm after their brains and fancies. The Queens middle way was threatened in 1570 when the Catholic earls of the North rebelled. This was part of the long, complicated affair centered on Mary Queen of Scots, and having to do with the disruption of the old feudal ways as well as with religion. The rebellion was put down and in response to that, Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I and absolved her Catholic subjects from allegiance to her and her laws. This accomplished little except to make the lives of English Catholics more difficult. Adding to this, after the excommunication Parliament passed legislation forbidding bringing papal bulls into England, with the intention of keeping the Popes instructions unknown to English Catholics. Distrust was further heightened by the vicious St. Bartholomews Day Massacre of Protestants by Catholics in France in 1572. The bloody wars between French Catholics and Protestants had been going on episodically for a decade prior to that and were not settled for another quarter century. The French wars were a constant reminder to English statesmen of the risk of domestic strife and how important it was to avoid it. In 1574 Catholic priests from the Continent began arriving surreptitiously to give support and instruction to their fellow religionists. Jesuit missionaries, well trained and obdurate in their loyalty to the Pope, began to arrive in 1580. That, with the addition of several inept but potentially serious plots to free Mary Queen of Scots, worried Elizabeths advisors and led to

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the imposition of stringent measures against any overt espousals of Catholicism. After a failed Catholic plot in 1583, Parliament passed a law that, but for the Queen Elizabeths better judgment, could have led the country into a socially disruptive religious struggle. Later, Elizabeth reluctantly acknowledged the advice of her advisors to remove Mary from the scene and authorized her execution in 1587. All through this the Queen maintained a personal relationship with Marys son, who was a Protestant. This was James VI, king of Scotland, who would become the next King of England as James I. In this time when the ruler was the head of both church and state, what we now call matters of conscience could be treated as overtly seditious acts. This included any attempt by Jesuits or seminary priests [to] meddle or persuade with any in matter of religion [rather than] to keep their own consciences to themselves. Such acts could be taken as expressions of a loyalty to the pope that jeopardized the Crown. These were crimes against the state to be punished by the civil authorities, who frequently used public executions to serve for an example to other like disordered people and to provide a spectacle. During Elizabeths forty-five year reign some 189 Catholics were executed not for heresy but for treason or sedition (fifty Catholics had been martyred in Henry VIIIs reign, none under Edward VI, and as we have seen, some 288 Protestants under Mary I), and others died in prison.

SOCIAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES


England saw changes quite apart from the political and religious. Its population had fallen due to the Black Death of the fourteenth century, when at least one-third the people of Europe died in a short time. There was a subsequent rise in Englands population over the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries from about 2,000,000 in the 1480s to 4,000,000 in 1600, although perhaps not back to pre-Black Death levels. The increase was rapid, by about one-quarter from the decade of the 1560s to that of the 1600s. At the start of the sixteenth century England was primarily a rural country with few large cities. Even Londons population amounted to only some 50,000. By the end of the century London was one of the largest cities in Europe, with about 200,000 people. Nearly one person in twenty in England lived in the metropolis. There was one constant, and that was the disproportionate concentration of wealth at the top of a sharply peaked pyramid. In medieval times, wealth was primarily derived from land, such as from rents and agriculture. As the century wore on, industry and trade generated more wealth. There also emerged a financial system that provided credit to the increasing numbers of tradesmen and merchants. Throughout the century England made use of robust foreign exchanges on the Continent where credit for trade and wars was arranged. In England, the growing merchant class contained many

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wealthy and influential people. Speaking in broad terms, a noticeable portion of the old gentry and nobility very much wedded to an expensive conspicuous hospitality were in financial debt to merchants. Merchants acquired land as payment of debts and brought improved productivity in place of the conservative practices of the former owners. They also increased the revenue derived from estates, not without substantial ill feelings of cottagers and clergy. At least one-third of Englands population remained in poverty. Another third were in only slightly better shape, one or two bad harvest years from famine whether they were lived in urban or rural areas. Dearth, the ugly term for the socially disruptive and potentially deadly lack of food, arises often in religious and official writings in the sixteenth century. 2 All of Europe was experiencing population growth, and also a price inflation that lasted throughout the entire sixteenth century and well into the next. Historians debate the proportionate causes, but these undoubtedly included a population growth that outstripped the inefficient production and distribution of basic human and animal food, the inflow of gold and silver from the New World, and on the continent, wars that disrupted economies. Rising prices were not generally accompanied by a matching rise in wages, so the buying power of wage earners and small farmers, together by far the largest proportion of the population, decreased. In England it was a time when order and subordination were an integral part of society. It was also a time when new worlds were being discovered and settled, and when Englands population was young and moving to cities that were full of new possibilities. Not all was calm and quiet. For example, the apprentice system, making so many years of the lives of young people ones of servitude, was on its way out. Nearer the top of the social order, merchants acquired money and power from trade, and their influence and prominence grew at the cost of gentry and nobility. In the next century England would be torn by civil war while on its way to becoming a maritime and capitalist power, but for the last forty or so years in the sixteenth century there would be at least a relative stability and peace. Father and daughter, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, aided by their advisors, used their abundant powers as negotiators and although they would have been aghast to hear this said as Machiavellian rulers to achieve and maintain domestic peace. Henry VIIIs reign had been a time of disruption. Elizabeth I was a lone female figure in the mans game of politics. Her reign, not without its external threats and internal strains, was one of consolidation and conservatism.

In Two Gentlemen from Verona, Shakespeare characterizes the painfulness of dearth: Pity the dearth the I have pind in / By lingering for that food so long a time. 2.7.16.

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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE IN ITS TIME


English domestic religious dissension was driven by unbending, apocalyptic Protestants of a variety of dogmatic persuasions, set against a background of Catholic plots, real and imagined. The presence of the Catholic minority presented a conundrum to many in the Protestant majority: could Catholics be English? What is Englishness? Was it birthplace, language, parentage, religion? Could the Irish, or the Scots, or the Welsh be English? Who could be expected to be loyal to the Crown? Who, or what, were the Jews? How had they survived with their particular identity, whatever that was, for thousands of years? Could a convert, whether Jew or Catholic, be trusted to be a real Protestant? On top of all that, under Mary Is rule there had been many quiet Protestants with no desire to be burned or financially ruined, and the same was true of Catholics under Elizabeth I. Shakespeare was writing for the paying audiences and he was also writing for the Court. Money from the daytime crowds was necessary but not enough. He needed the financial support of the nobility and their protection from overly zealous City officials. For that he needed plays that would keep the attention of the upper class, appeal to their tastes and to their knowledge of history and current affairs. This worked for The Merchant of Venice, as it was presented twice at James Is court in 1605. There was no Walt Kelly around, no Pogo to go alongside Foxes Martyrs, but perhaps the dilemma that Shakespeare exposed was most succinctly stated by that friendly possum, We have met the enemy and he is us. Portraying the villain as Jewish instead of recusant Catholic or enthusiastic Puritan, and seeing the conflict as between Christian and Jew instead of between Christians, allowed a dangerous subject to be addressed in a safe manner, disarming an explosive projectile with humor and subtlety.
There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. Walt Kelly, The Pogo Papers, 1952.

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Part II READING THE PLAY


Men do not praise the same things in public as in secret; but in public chiefly praise what is just and beautiful, and in secret rather wish for what is expedient. Aristotle. Rhetoric, c. 350 BCE

Hence the Scripture does not say the multitude of the eloquent, but the multitude of the wise is the welfare of the whole world. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana IV, c. 400

4:11 Then he said unto them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God : but unto them that are without, all things be done in parables, 4:12 That they seeing, may see , and not discern : and they hearing , may hear,and not understand , lest at any time they should turn , and their sins should be forgiven them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to Mark, Geneva Bible 1560

Yea, ther be som that have solemply vowed never to be of that religion that smelleth of povertye : they had rather be riche with Alexander, than poore with Christ. A horrible kind of speache : fyrst money, say they, and then honestie will follow of course : for what is wisedome, learnynge or honestie? It is money (man) say they, that makes a man to be taken for wise, honest, valiant, mightie, yea, and for a kinges fellowe too. Thomas Wilson, A Discourse upon Usury, 1572

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In the middest of the Citie Mantua is a large Market place, wherein the Jewes have their shops, and sell all manner of wares, for all trafficke is in their hands, growing rich by the povertie of the Citizens; and being so much favoured by the Duke, as they dwell not in any severall part of the Citie, but where they list, and in the very Market-place; neither are they forced (as in other parts of Italy) to weare yellow or red caps, whereby they may bee knowne, but onely a little piece of yellow cloth on the left side of their cloakes, so as they can hardly be distinguished from Christians, especially in their shops, where they weare no cloakes. Such be the priviledges which the Jewes have gotten by bribing (especially in the Dutchey of Savoy) through the unsatiable avarice of our Christian Princes. Fynes Moryson, The Itinerary of Fynes Moryson 1617 (based on his travels in the years 1591-95)

Now I question whether, among all the instances in which a borrower and a lender of money have been brought together upon the stage, from the days of Thespis to the present, there ever was one, in which the former was not recommended to favour in some shape or other either to admiration, or to love, or to pity, or to all three ; and the other, the man of thrift, consigned to infamy. Jeremy Bentham, Defence of Usury, 1787

. . . a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Samuel Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1817

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3
READING THE PLAY ENTRANCES AND EXITS

Shakespeares plays are populated with interesting, unique humans and getting to know them adds to our enjoyment and understanding. One particularly good way to carry this off is to look at the initial entrance, and the final exit, of each character. Remember though, this is a play meant to be seen, not a novel to be read. The stage directions left to us are minimal and presentations by actors and directors can be of startling variety. Try to keep track of who is on stage and give some thought to what these people might be doing.

ENTRANCES
Antonio, Salerio and Solanio
The Merchant of Venice opens with the plaintive Antonio declaring that he is sad.
ANTONIO: 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 my self. (1.1.1)

Antonio, the titular subject of the play, is a successful and wealthy merchant. He seems to be a bit out of touch with the nature of his sadness, but is quite enjoying it. Salerio and Solanio, two acquaintances of his, try to cheer him up. These two, their names easily confused (indeed, variants of them appear in different editions of the early texts), might as well be one person because theres nothing to distinguish them. They make some attempts at helping Antonio identify the source of his sadness, but are ineffectual. There were more nuances to the word sad in Shakespeares time than now, including sated, weary, grave, serious, and sorrowful. So for a little while we are left to our own opinions.

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Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano


Three young men, Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano, come upon Antonio. Bassanio is clearly in charge in this trio, and Lorenzo deferentially disappears. Bassanios first line is . . . when shall we laugh . . ., declaring himself a party-person. His next line, and the possible conflict with the first, is a portent for the rest of the play.
BASSANIO: I will not fail you. (1.1.72)

Gratianos first speech consoles and also accurately describes Antonio.


GRATIANO: You have too much respect upon the world : They lose it that do buy it with much care (1.1.74)

Gratiano follows that with a precise characterization of Antonios sadness.


GRATIANO: But fish not with this melancholy bait For this fool gudgeon, this opinion (1.1.101)

Gudgeon is a bait fish, and Gratianos barbed remark reminds Antonio that seeking to appear wise through a show of melancholy is transparent. Shakespeare slips in a heads-up as Gratiano says Let me play the fool (1.1.79). We are alerted that there will be insight and trash in his words.

Portia and Nerissa


Portia and Nerissa are introduced symmetrically with Antonio and his two interchangeable acquaintances.
PORTIA: By my troth Nerissa, my little body is a weary of this great world. (1.2.1)

Nerissa immediately provides an antidote for this weariness.


NERISSA: You would be sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are (1.2.3)

Portia responds without any delay, Good sentences, and well pronouncd (1.2.10). Portia has quickly been invigorated by the no-nonsense Nerissa, and both are ready for the challenges they know lie ahead. The contrast between Antonio and Portia has been established, and we already have the suspicion that the play will be more about the take-charge Portia than about the

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unhappy Antonio. We also have the impression that Portia and Nerissa have a strong, trusting relationship. Scenes One and Two also serve to show Nerissa and Gratiano as similarly to the point, a portent of their eventual pairing. Antonio, however, has the fawning Salerio and Solanio, which speaks of him as well as of them.

Shylock and Tubal


Shylock appears with Bassanio asking him for a loan for Antonio, who will sign the bond. The first words out of Shylocks mouth are about money, Three thousand ducats, well (1.3.1). Shylock makes it clear that while he has to deal with Christians commercially, he has no love for them. We first hear of Tubal when Shylock tells Bassanio and Antonio that, lacking the funds himself, Tubal a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe / Will furnish me (1.3.52). Shylock has friends he can rely on for funds and Antonio does not. Moreover, in accordance with Deuteronomy 23:19, borrowing from Tubal will not require paying any interest. Tubals lines, however, in his very brief appearance, are a mixture of bad news and good. He reports that he heard of Jessica in Genoa but did not see her, Antonios ships were lost, and then reports on Jessicas profligate spending. Is there a swift stroke of irony here that twists the meaning of friendship?

Lancelot and Jessica


I will skip over the collection of Portias comedic suitors and a few other minor characters. The clown Lancelot (or Launcelot) acts as a bridge to Shylocks daughter, Jessica, but he is not passive. Always be careful to watch Shakespeares fools and clowns, as they have license to say what others cannot. Lancelot enters debating his conscience.
LANCELOT: Certainly, my conscience will serve me to run away from this Jew my master. (2.2.1)

Is the clown the only character to appeal to his conscience? Does this ultimately self-serving argument reflect the actions of the other characters? Jessica enters speaking with Lancelot.
JESSICA: I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so, Our home is hell, and thou a merry devil Did'st rob it of some taste of tediousness ; But fare thee well, there is a ducat for thee, And Lancelot, soon at supper thou shalt see Lorenzo, who is thy new masters guest, Give him this letter, do it secretly, And so farewell : I would not have my father See me talk with thee. (2.3.1)

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I never did repent for doing good

JESSICA: Farewell good Lancelot. Alack, what heinous sin is it in me To be ashamed to be my fathers child, But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners : O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise I shall end this strife, Become a Christian, and thy loving wife. (2.3.15)

Shakespeare has accomplished quite a bit in these two short speeches. We know Jessica is resentful of her fathers control and is conspiring to elope and convert to Christianity. She has also declared her participation in this play about money, giving this merry devil a ducat, no doubt belonging to her father. We should not be surprised at whatever she does to change her life.

The Duke
We first hear of the Duke (the Doge) when Salerio and Solanio gossip together in Act Two Scene Eight. They describe him as stern, frank, honest, and determined to enforce the laws of Venice. The Dukes appearance is limited to the courtroom scene. We meet him as he carries out the formality of asking if Antonio is present (they certainly knew each other). He then declares his Christian brotherhood with Antonio, who answers in similar language, by using an age old, anti-Jewish vocabulary. The implication is that the justice of Venice will be served regardless of the persons involved, the good of the state exceeding the good of an individual, although the Duke is hardly happy about all this.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee, thou art come to answer A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, Uncapable of pity, void, and empty From any dram of mercy. (4.1.3)

It is hard to avoid seeing similarities between the plays trial scene and that of Jesuss trial in the Gospels. In that light, the similarities between the Duke and Pontius Pilate come to the fore, as do their differences. Both were administrators with supreme judicial power and both strove for civil order. In addition, both were exasperated with the Jews whose controversies they had to resolve in their courtrooms. An important difference is that the Duke appears to be a principled if reluctant individual while in modern times Pilates reputation is of one of brutality, the pragmatic and ultimately dismissed Roman administrator of a fractious land. Shakespeare correctly avoids characterizing the Duke as being the

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supreme law maker. Venice was a republic, and Elizabethans knew (or at least they could know) that it incorporated checks and balances preventing an autarchy.

EXITS
Salerio and Solanio
Salerio and Solanio drift off prior to the courtroom scene. Salerio is last seen in Act Three Scene One where both of them have been arguing with Shylock. Solanio appears last in Act Three Scene One where he continues to try to console Antonio.
SOLANIO: I am sure the Duke will never grant this forfeiture to hold. (3.3.24)

The roles these two play seem to be consistently ineffectual, in contrast to Nerissa as Portias supporter.

Tubal
Tubal leaves prior to the courtroom scene, having just delivered Shylock the heartbreaking news of Jessicas profligate behavior in Genoa. Only a few lines later Tubal says, But Antonio is certainly undone (3.1.114). Is he groping for something to cheer up Shylock? What else might it be? If you were the director, how would you want the lines delivered?

Shylock and The Duke


The Dukes role as autocrat is abundantly clear. While he is on stage he dispenses justice and forgiveness. Even prior to his appearance in Act Four, both Shylock and Antonio defer to him as the ultimate authority and a fair one at that. Shylocks last speech is at the end of the courtroom scene when he departs, dazed and defeated. He and the Duke speak with each other without any intermediaries. The Duke maintains the persona that Shakespeare previously created for him.
SHYLOCK: I pray you, give me leave to go from hence, I am not well, send the deed after me, And I will sign it. DUKE: Get thee gone, but do it. (4.1.392)

The Duke then asks the disguised Portia to dinner, but she excuses herself with I must away this night toward Padua. He reminds Antonio to thank this gentleman and exits the stage. The freedom of the clerk is clearly

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contrasted with the compulsion of the money-lender.

Lancelot
Lancelot is last seen at the beginning of the fifth act, exiting with a few lines of good news. His short speech is full of joking ambiguities, true to character.
LANCELOT: Tell him theres a post come from my master, with his horn full of good news, my master will be here ere morning. (5.1.46)

Nerissa and Gratiano


Nerissa gets almost the final lines. In these she raises the triumph over the rich Jew and its pecuniary reward, the gift to Jessica and Lorenzo.
NERISSA: There do I give to you and Jessica From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift After his death, of all he dies possessd of. (5.1.291)

Gratiano gets the last speech, lustfully romantic, thankful for his marriage with Nerissa, proving that the play was indeed a comedy.
GRATIANO: Well, while I live, Ill fear no other thing So sore, as keeping safe Nerissas ring. (5.1.306)

If there ever were any doubts about the sexual connotations of a wedding ring, they are removed now. Do you think that these two are suited for each other? What might their home life be like after their initial infatuation has worn off?

Jessica and Lorenzo


Jessicas last speech is near the start of the final act, dreamily thankful for Belmonts bounty but sad. She says, I am never merry when I hear sweet music (5.1.69). Lorenzo consoles her by assuring her that her heart is listening to the music. Jessica is referred to a few times after that but has no further lines. Is Shakespeare marginalizing her? Is this another way of saying that she will always be an outsider? Lorenzo exits after Nerissas last speech. He responds to her remarks about the deed of gift with thanks, Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way of starved people (5.1.293). The reference to manna is from the Old Testament, Exodus 16 is this another of Shakespeares ironies?

Portia and Bassanio


Bassanio signs off (still) surprised that Portia had been the lawyer.

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


BASSANIO: Were you the doctor, and I knew you not? ... Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow, When I am absent, then lie with my wife. (5.1.280)

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How would you have an actor deliver these lines? Is Bassanio not particularly bright? Is he perhaps mocking Portia? Portia speaks just before the comically garrulous Gratianos closing lines. She plays upon her lawyerly persona, leaving no doubt who is in charge, and promising that the happy couples will be faithful and honest.
PORTIA: It is almost morning, And yet I am sure you are not satisfied Of these events at full. Let us go in, And charge us there upon intergatories, And we will answer all things faithfully. (5.1.295)

Antonio
Antonio, odd man out amongst the happy couples, expresses his debt to Portia, who has just given him a letter with good news.
Sweet lady, you have given me life and living ; For here I read for certain that my ships Are safely come to road. (5.1.286)

We understand life as quite literal. Does living equate with economic success? How different is this from Shylocks outlook? Is it different from Nerissas preoccupation with money? Whatever your answers may be, it is sure that this play is about money. Antonio entered the play sad but confident that his ships would not be lost. He exits happy, reassured that his lost ships have been found. However much he may act the good friend and stalwart Christian, there is not much doubt where a major part of his interest lies.

EPILOGUE
These imagined characters present lifelike challenges to us. How do we form opinions about people we meet, what does it take to make someone likable or detestable? How do our opinions change as we learn more? Are we prepared to accept or to try to understand outsiders?

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READING THE PLAY IMPRESSIONS

Isn't it interesting to listen to people describing someone when that person is not around? We learn about both the person being described and the people doing the describing.

TWO COUPLES
Bassanio Describes Portia
Early in the play Bassanio presses Antonio for enough money to carry on his pursuit of the wealthy Portia. He lays out his pecuniary aims without any embarrassment, saying, my chief care / Is to come fairly off from the great debts / Wherein my time something too prodigal / Hath left me gagd (1.1.127). He then goes on to describe Portia and lay out his plan.
BASSANIO: In Belmont is a lady richly left, And she is fair, and, fairer than that word, Of wondrous virtues, sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages. ... O my Antonio, had I but the means To hold a rival place with one of them [her suitors], I have a mind presages me such thrift, That I should questionless be fortunate. (1.1.161)

Rich is Bassanios favorite descriptor, then he uses the word fair, too, saying it in superlatives that may show the relief of the young man. Henry VIII had his Anne of Cleves who was rich but not fair, and dropped her (with her head still on her shoulders) as quickly as he could.

Lorenzo Describes Jessica


Lorenzo seems to want no less. He is almost ecstatic that Jessica will provide purloined treasure for their future.

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


LORENZO: I must needs tell thee all, she hath directed How I shall take her from her fathers house, What gold and jewels she is furnished with, What pages suit she hath in readiness : If eer the Jew her father come to heaven, It will be for his gentle daughters sake ; And never dare misfortune cross her foot, Unless she do it under this excuse, That she is issue to a faithless Jew. (2.4.29)

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When Jessica actually produces the gold and jewels, Lorenzo nearly trips over himself in his enthusiasm.
LORENZO: Beshrew me but I love her heartily. For she is wise, if I can judge of her, And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, And true she is, as she hath proved herself ; And therefore like her self, wise, fair, and true, Shall she be placed in my constant soul. (2.6.52)

Lorenzo, just as Bassanio, puts wealth first. His ideas of virtue and wisdom seem odd indeed, evidently predicated upon her wish to convert to Christianity and her fidelity to him but certainly not upon her filial love.

Portia (and Nerissa) Describe Bassanio


Nerissa reminds Portia of Bassanios previous visit to Belmont.
NERISSA: Do you not remember lady in your fathers time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat? PORTIA: Yes, yes, it was Bassanio, as I think, so he was calld. NERISSA: True, madam, he of all the men that ever my foolish eyes lookd upon, was the best deserving a fair lady. PORTIA: I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise. (1.2.108)

Portia responds like a shy girl to Nerissas complimentary description of the young man. The word fair arises as a link to Bassanios description of Portia. Love and marriage, a young womans dreams, are easily understood. In a larger sense it was societys expectation that a woman needed marriage to complete herself. This is also Shakespeares own favorite lady intelligent, strong-willed, and playing her proper role in society. Nerissas choice of words shows that she is looking out for Portias welfare. A scholar and a soldier . . . in company of the Marquis describe a young nobleman. Whatever, if any, Bassanios academic strengths he would

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have attended university. Similarly he would have practiced the art of war and aligned himself with someone of a higher rank in the nobility. Deserving a fair lady informs the audience, if it needed any reminder, that Portia was of the upper classes and the possible match an acceptable one.

Jessica Describes Lorenzo


Jessicas description of Lorenzo is short and to the point. She has no wise Nerissa in whom to confide, only the clown Lancelot who is not hesitant to give advice.
JESSICA: Farewell good Lancelot. Alack, what heinous sin is it in me To be ashamed to be my fathers child, But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners : O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise I shall end this strife, Become a Christian, and thy loving wife. (2.3.15)

Shakespeare has dropped us into the middle of something, without any preparation but in a convincing way. Jessicas need, like Portias but more urgent, is to become complete and accepted into mainstream society. As much as she tries, she will never be a full, trusted member of that society. We will see that Bassanio, Gratiano, Lancelot and even her evidently faithful Lorenzo will talk about her as someone different from them.

How Do They Compare?


Shakespeare has made no secret that this play is about money, and Bassanio and Lorenzo pursue that theme without any hesitation. Both men characterize their women as sources of wealth, and boys being boys, as fair based on what their eyes tell them. Lorenzos encomium for Jessica extends to wise and true. We know even if it takes Bassanio until the last Act to figure it out that Portia is more aptly described by those terms. Both women understand that they are constrained by being the daughters of their fathers. Jessica is prepared to break any rule in order to escape. Portia is going to stay within the rules but look for some way to bend them a bit to achieve her ends. Lorenzo seems like a nice enough fellow, well spoken and frank. But is he expressing Christian morality as it should be, or Christian behavior as it is? Is he self-serving or does he really care about Jessica? How do the adjectives wise and true apply to Jessica? How would you see his part played on the stage?

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ANTONIO AND SHYLOCK


Antonio and Shylock have known one another for some time and share a deep mistrust.

Shylock Describes Antonio


When Shylock first sees Antonio he turns to the audience to share his thoughts.
SHYLOCK [Aside]: How like a fawning publican he looks. I hate him for he is a Christian : But more, for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation, and he rails Even there where merchants most do congregate On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, Which he calls interest : Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him. (1.3.36)

Publican is a term that occurs in the New Testament in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not in the Old. Its meaning there is a tax collector, ingloriously lumped together with pagans and sinners. Putting it in Shylocks mouth may show his familiarity with the Gospels. It could be particularly insulting because Matthew describes himself as once a publican (Matthew 10:3) and then goes out of his way to disparage them (Matthew 5:46-47). There appears to have been another sixteenth century use of the word, as the keeper of a tavern, which might fit better with the adjective fawning. In any case, it is an intriguing example of Shakespeares attention to individual words, and the only time he uses publican in his plays.

Antonio (and the Duke) Describe Shylock


When Antonio enters the courtroom, Shylock is still waiting outside. Antonio and the Duke have a brief exchange showing their mutual sympathy.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee, thou art come to answer A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, Uncapable of pity, void, and empty From any dram of mercy. ANTONIO: I have heard Your Grace hath taen great pains to qualify His rigorous course : but since he stands obdurate,

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And that no lawful means can carry me Out of envys reach, I do oppose My patience to his fury and am armd To suffer with a quietness of spirit, The very tyranny and rage of his. (4.1.3)

The Duke represents the law of Venice and he appears to be trying to maintain a neutral stance, having appealed to Shylock for a fair resolution. His words seem to be directed against the person of Shylock, not towards all Jews. However, the charge of pitilessness was often made against Jews in general. In any case, the Dukes remark seems to express concordance or brotherhood with Antonio, and mercy will be central to the proceedings that follow. Most of Antonios short speech seems to concern himself (as usual and a characteristic he shares with Portia), which makes sense considering the difficulties he is facing. He speaks with an intriguing ambiguity when he says, he stands obdurate. This phrase was used by Christians to characterize Jews, but was also used by Protestants against Catholics and by Catholics against Protestants. Antonio continues in his hatred for all Jews, just as Shylock hates all Christians. After Bassanio rather inadequately debates with Shylock, Antonio says, You may as well do anything most hard, / As seek to soften that, than which what harder? / His Jewish heart (4.1.78).

How Do They Compare?


Both Antonio and Shylock see themselves as put upon. Antonio has a problem that is personal, severe, and of recent vintage. Shylock sees an opportunity and a problem. His problem is personal but it also applies to all Jews. His time-frame goes back fifteen hundred years and occupies him daily. In his relations with Christians he really is without pity and obdurate. Antonio sees himself as a victim of the wrath of Shylock an emotion he goes to great lengths to evoke. That may be the proximal cause, but in actuality he has been sacrificed to pleasure by Bassanio, a case of unrequited love in the extreme.

ANTONIO AND LORENZO AND PORTIA


In Act Three Scene Four Portia has just sent Bassanio off from Belmont to the courtroom in Venice to intervene (using her money) in Antonios behalf. Lorenzo, most politely, consoles her on Bassanios absence and assures her that Antonio is worth all the trouble.
LORENZO: But if you know to whom you show this honour, How true a gentleman you send relief,

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


How dear a lover of my lord your husband, I know you would be prouder of the work Than customary bounty can enforce you. PORTIA: I never did repent for doing good, Nor shall not now : for in companions That do converse and waste the time together, Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love, There must be needs a like proportion Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit ; Which makes me think that this Antonio Being the bosom lover of my lord, Must needs be like my lord. (3.4.5)

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Lorenzo reaffirms his role as a sincere and caring person. Portia reaffirms hers as at once in charge of her life and in love with Bassanio, and that any dear friend of Bassanio is a dear friend of hers. Later in the play, near the end of Act Four Scene One, Portia appears to discover that Antonio has manipulated Bassanio and convinced the inconstant young man to give up her ring. If that is the case, then her statement that Antonio must needs be like Bassanio takes on a comedic dimension not yet apparent in Act Three.

EPILOGUE
Shakespeare was an economical playwright. Hardly anything is there without a dramatic purpose and hardly any dramatic purpose is left incomplete. His plays were never intended to be printed, but once they were readers became committed to the close analysis of speeches, lines and words. This leads to the discovery of complexity and depth that would have been challenging for his original audiences. However, reading a play can deprive it of some integral aspects, such as its flow and the interactions of the on-stage actors. How can you best address this translation from stage to page? How can you work to vitalize the characters that run the risk of being objects for autopsy, laid out on the white table of the page?

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5
READING THE PLAY ANTONIO WHAT KIND OF PERSON IS HE?

ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living (5.1.286)

Given the title of the play we might expect that the merchant Antonio is at its center, his character more compelling than any other. While King Lear, Hamlet, Richard III and others are structured that way, Julius Caesar is more about Brutus. Shakespeare was not overly concerned with titles. Antonio is essential to the story, and he has a character that is hardly simple, but the characters we remember are Shylock and Portia. So who is this Antonio? There have been many interpretations of Antonio over the past century or two, ranging from saintly to crafty. There is no one correct characterization of Antonio, but there are plenty of readings that are incorrect in that they are not supported by the text. I would like you to find whatever you would, as long as you stick to the text. Antonios speech is cast either in terms of commerce and contracts, or as the very embodiment of Christian love. He is quite comfortable in his role as a successful merchant and member of the privileged citizenry of Venice. He is also excruciatingly taken with his role as self-sacrificing friend. He enters the play sad but not knowing quite why, with two acquaintances trying to cheer him up. And he last appears in the play cheered up by Portia who has given him the knowledge that leads him to life and living. What transpires in between these two bookends? What kind of a person is Antonio from his own words?

ANTONIO, THE MERCHANT


We learn in Act One Scene One that Antonio is a wealthy merchant. His resources are so sufficient that he does not feel at risk of financial ruin even if he has some bad fortune. His personal life, though, is a bit less neat. Encountering the young men Bassanio, Gratiano and Lorenzo, he has a wonderful line that reveals how he sees himself or is it as he wishes to be

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice seen?


ANTONIO: I hold the world but as the world Gratiano, A stage, where every man must play a part, And mine a sad one. (1.1.77)

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Shortly thereafter, his friend Bassanio makes his need of money known to Antonio. Antonio responds without delay as the model of friendship, pledging to him my purse, my person, my extremest means (1.1.138). While it may seem homoerotic, there is nothing in the text to confirm this. Such effulgent expressions of friendship were a feature of the Renaissance. It is not so far removed from todays emotions for performers, sports stars or even for political figures. He will do anything for Bassanio, even die for him. This might be Christian love personified. It might also be (and perhaps at the same time) the Elizabethan lovesickness theme popular in poem and song. Here is part of Lady, if you should spite me, by John Dowland, whose works are still performed. It was published in 1610 but may have been around before that. Does it sound akin to todays Country and Western music?
Lady, if you so spite me Wherefore do you so oft, so oft Kiss, kiss, and delight me. ... So, shall your heart, your heart be eased, And I shall rest content, and die And die well pleased!

However that may be, Antonio, has a problem.


ANTONIO: Thou knowst that all my fortunes are at sea, Neither have I money, nor commodity To raise a present sum, therefore go forth, Try what my credit in Venice can do, That shall be racked even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia. Go presently enquire, and so will I Where money is, and I no question make To have it of my trust, or for my sake. (1.1.177)

In Act One Scene Three Bassanio takes Antonio at his word, and acts much in his own interest. He arranges for Shylock to make a loan to Antonio, who will stand the bond, although it is Bassanio who will receive the benefits. Antonio agrees to this, even in the face of Bassanios (earnest?) lastminute concern. Antonio and Shylock are long-term enemies, and Antonio is now in his debt. The merchant responds to Shylocks recounting of past

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ANTONIO: I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not As to thy friends, for when did friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend? But lend it rather to thine enemy, Who if he break, thou mayst with better face Exact the penalties. (1.3.125)

The barren metal argument had become outdated in the world of commerce, that is, in Antonios own world. He appears to be quite willing to use whatever arguments come to hand to establish his moral superiority. Shylock continues seemingly in good spirits, and describes the bond.
SHYLOCK: If you repay me not on such a day, In such a place, such sum or sums as are Exprest in the condition, let the forfeit Be nominated for an equal pound Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body it pleaseth me. (1.3.142)

A question interjects itself: if Antonio has helped so many people and is such a successful merchant, then why can he not go to his friends, or at least to other merchants and get a loan? Of course, that would cripple the play and so it cannot take place. Antonio may already have been stretched financially prior to the loan from Shylock, or perhaps his judgment in the conduct of his commercial affairs is suspect. We find out in Act Two Scene Eight that a rush to self-sacrifice may have undermined Antonios better sense.
SALERIO: A kinder gentleman treads not the earth, I saw Bassanio and Antonio part, Bassanio told him he would make some speed Of his return : he answered, do not so. Slubber not business for my sake Bassanio, But stay the very riping of the time, And for the Jews bond which he hath of me, Let it not enter in your mind of love : Be merry, . . . (2.8.35)

Antonios glorious self-sacrifice is not the cause of what will be the result of the undependable Bassanios neglect of his responsibility to him. It is, though, a great comic example of the danger of getting what you ask for. Antonios problematical financial position is specifically the subject of

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Tubal, a friend of Shylock, who tells Shylock what he learned on his trip to Genoa.
TUBAL: There came divers of Antonios creditors in my company to Venice, that swear he cannot choose but break. (3.1.103)

There is another way to look at this, although a bit of a stretch. Imagine that Antonio really doesnt want Bassanio to run off and win the rich heiress. Suppose Antonio would rather the young man remain his companion, without any competition. Wouldnt it then be better not to ask other merchants for a loan or to taunt Shylock into not providing the money? Has Antonio, in spite of his best effort, accidentally become Bassanios benefactor? Whatever the virtues in this scenario, it might well cross the minds of audiences and add to the comedic content of this tragical comedy.

BASSANIO AWAKES
Act Three Scene Two takes place in Belmont. Salerio has just arrived and is greeted by Gratiano, who spares no one, not even himself, from his sarcasm.
GRATIANO: Whats the news from Venice? How doth that royal [outstanding] merchant good Antonio ; I know he will be glad of our success, We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece. (3.2.237)

Salerio has brought a letter from Antonio. which Bassanio reads aloud.
BASSANIO [reading]: . . . my bond to the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I, if I might see you at my death : notwithstanding, use your pleasure, if your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter. (3.2.315)

Antonio is explicit in his construction of himself, Paul-like, in this Letter to the Belmontians. He has good reason to do this and good timing, too. His irresponsible young friend would still be playing in Belmont without such a reminder. Portia takes the hapless Bassanio in hand and quickly develops a plan to save his friend, Antonio.

ANTONIOS TRIAL
In Act Three Scene Three it is now after the payment date and Antonio must forfeit the bond. We witness the meeting of Shylock and Antonio as the

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ANTONIO [to Solanio]: Let him alone, Ill follow him no more with bootless prayers : He seeks my life, his reason well I know ; I oft delivered from his forfeitures Many that have at times made moan to me, Therefore he hates me. (3.3.19)

Antonio is under stress and has good reason not to think at all charitably of his persecutor. Nevertheless, his diagnosis of the cause of Shylocks hatred is no surprise focused on himself. His own disdain and cruel behavior towards Shylock dont seem to enter his mind at this time. How would you direct the actors in this speech? What is the snappish Solanio doing? What does the actors delivery tell us about Antonios character? Antonio ends this scene by endorsing the necessity of adhering to the laws of Venice in order to assure the trade and profit of the city. This has all been phrased in commercial terms, a habit of both the merchant and the money-lender. Act Four is the courtroom scene. Antonio begins by reiterating his intention to obey the law. He speaks in martyrlike images, continuing to try to consolidate his moral position.
ANTONIO: I do oppose My patience to his fury, and am armd To suffer with a quietness of spirit, The very tyranny and rage of his. (4.1.10)

Antonios language could be read in Foxes stories of Protestant martyrs in his Book of Martyrs and also in Catholic polemics. While the immediate threat to Antonio is a Jew, there had been hundreds of martyrdoms of Christians by Christians in England in recent generations, and they were continuing. Antonio has his lovely speech You may as well go stand upon the beach, / And bid the main flood bate his usual height (4.1.71), dramatically setting him on a par with Portia, Shylock and the Duke. After that, Antonio is an almost silent observer until the disguised Portia is about to give her decision. He reaffirms his love for Bassanio, but his goodbye speech, I am arm'd and well prepard, / Give me your hand Bassanio, fare you well (4.1.260), is peppered with commercial and money-related terms such as outlive his wealth, age of poverty, pays your debt. After the verdict saving him is delivered, Antonio responds to Portias question, What mercy can you render him?

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


ANTONIO: So please my lord the Duke, and all the court To quit the fine for one half of his goods, I am content : so he will let me have The other half in use . . . (4.1.376)

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There is a little of Shakespeares humor here. The word use, in addition to its conventional meaning, meant to put money out at interest hardly what Antonio would have intended. He goes on to list the contractual stipulations that will now apply to Shylock, which include that He presently become a Christian. The Duke follows this with his explicit threat, He shall do this, or else I do recant / The pardon that I late pronouncd here (4.1.387). The pardon was from death: I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it (4.1.365). In modern thought this forced conversion would be objectionable but it may have struck contemporary audiences otherwise. Christianity was the way to salvation, while Shylock, as a Jew, would be denied a heavenly afterlife. The theological difficulty is the forcing. There may be some justification to be found in Luke 14:23, but as that is a parable it raises substantial questions about interpretation, and we will here leave it alone. On the other hand, those on the path to becoming Catholic and Protestant martyrs were given opportunities to make confessional changes. Audiences would hardly be unaware of the parallel with Antonios injunction. In this speech and Shylocks brief response, both businessmen use the phrase, I am content. This was a term of commerce, equivalent to a handshake in agreement to a contract. Act 4 is not quite finished showing us Antonios character. After Portias success and still in disguise, she tries to persuade Bassanio to give her his wedding ring. Bassanio squirms but remains unusually steadfast. Just after Portia leaves, Antonio speaks up, still using the language of commerce,
ANTONIO: My lord Bassanio, let him have the ring, Let his deservings and my love withal Be valued against your wifes commandment. (4.1.445)

Bassanio caves in and failing Portia, sends Gratiano to give the ring to the doctor of laws. Is this the proof that Antonio is jealous of Portia? There is, in this brief exchange about the ring, a hint at something more. Shylock had been wounded by the report of Jessicas selling the ring that was his wifes gift to him. Now we have Antonio, via the ring, causing Bassanios fall from grace. Is Antonios interposition a devilish opposite to Portias Tarry a little, there is something else? Lancelot had earlier been in debate with his conscience and a devil is Antonios action a reappearance of the old fashioned morality play? This being a play of Shakespeare it is possible to chase leads endlessly.

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But here is a last thrust at Antonio in the courtroom, one that parries the passage we just looked at. When Antonio believes he is headed for death, before Portia delivers her judgment, he says goodbye to Bassanio.
ANTONIO: Commend me to your honorable wife, Tell her the process of Antonios end : Say how I lovd you, speak me fair in death : And when the tale is told, bid her be judge Whether Bassanio had not once a love. (4.1.269)

On the brink of death, Antonio behaves in the best courtly style. Once he is no longer so threatened he acts in his own interest. Is it as though Antonio read every other line in Matthew 5:38-48 (you will find this just before the Table of Contents)? Has he granted Shylock the opportunity for eternal life but continued to be spiteful towards him? Does the merchant find it more expedient to endorse God's love for the money-lender than to change his own behavior?

BELMONT AT LAST
In the final act, Portia teases Bassanio about the loss of his wedding ring. The young man (as well as Antonio and Gratiano) is still unaware that Portia was the doctor of laws at the Dukes court. Antonio says, I am thunhappy subject of these quarrels, and then puts himself at risk again.
ANTONIO: I once did lend my body for his wealth, Which but for him that had your husbands ring Had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again, My soul upon the forfeit, that your Lord Will nevermore break faith advisedly [intentionally]. (5.1.249)

Antonio has a way of making himself the center of attention even as he pleads his only interest is in Bassanios good behavior and subsequent good fortune. Is Shakespeare poking fun at the overly zealous Puritans and the Jesuits and missionary priests who seemed set upon martyrdom? The word wealth in the first line in one sense echoes an earlier statement of Bassanio. That was when the young man admitted to Portia that he had not only failed Antonio but also had no money, I freely told you all the wealth I had / Ran in my veins (3.2.253). In another sense wealth means happiness, well-being, or prosperity. Is Antonio again using a word that evokes the world of commerce and possessions? The farcical nature of the comedy is quickly reaching its conclusion, but Antonio has one last speech. Portia has just handed him a letter telling him of the safe return of his ships. His response to this, quite in character, is of a

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice commercial nature.


ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living ; For here I read for certain that my ships Are safely come to road. (5.1.286)

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Portia saved his life in the courtroom, and now she produces the news that his fortune is secure. But life and living can mean both a way to succeed in a material world, and the maintenance of a moral or religious purpose. Is the point here that Antonio has confused material success and religious purpose? There is another place where language similar to this is used. In the courtroom scene Shylock begs for mercy upon his penalty being announced.
SHYLOCK: Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that, You take my house, when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house : you take my life When you do take the means whereby I live. (4.1.370)

Both the Christian merchant and the Jewish money-lender claim that a life worth living depends on possessions, specifically money and property. The question that Portia, as the doctor of laws, poses at the start of the trial is Which is the merchant here? And which the Jew? (4.1.170) This is a mere formality but in the spirit of the play it is incisive.

EPILOGUE
How would you compare and contrast Antonio and Shylock? If Shylock is frantic, is Antonio sanctimonious? If Antonio is self-sacrificing, is Shylock persecuted? If Shylock is fearful, is Antonio privileged? If Antonio is manipulative, is Shylock mean-spirited? Are the differences between Antonio and Shylock of circumstance, of morality? Is Antonio as acquisitive as Shylock? Do they both act to achieve contractual advantages? Are their thoughts expressed in the language of business regardless of which of the two Testaments they prefer? Does Shakespeare leave us with them as the embodiments of the fractious religious quarrels of the day? What do we learn of ourselves and of conflicts in any day?

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6
READING THE PLAY PORTIA THE TAKE CHARGE LADY

PORTIA: I never did repent for doing good . . . (3.4.10)

We meet Portia as a girl looking for love and leave her as the woman in charge of everything. Shakespeares way of handling time is as intriguing as his way of handling characters. Somehow, Portias maturing does not seem hurried or compressed, although the elapsed time is no more than three months or so. She has a distinctive manner of speech. Even, or especially, when in disguise she should be easily recognized except by Bassanio and Gratiano. But this is a comedy and intelligence is never among the strengths of those two young men. After her opening sigh, Portia speaks in velvet-clad directives. Whether it is explaining to Bassanio what he has to do in the courtroom, dispatching Shylock, or organizing the affairs at Belmont, she is polite and firm. Her evaluation of her lumpish suitors is a bit of a departure from that, but only to the extent of substituting biting humor for courtesy.

COURTSHIP
I will start with our young lady just after her opening exchange with Nerissa. Portia has a long speech beginning, If to do were as easy . . ., sounding like a jumble of epigrams she may have heard from her father. But Shakespeares audiences may have heard something more along the lines of Paul in Romans 7:18-19 (Portia, though, is not so very serious).
For I know, that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but I find no means to perform that which is good. For I do not the good thing, which I would, but the evil, which I would not, that do I.

Still feeling sorry for herself, she ends with portentous lines.
PORTIA: . . . but this reason is not in fashion to choose me a husband : O me, the word choose, I may neither choose who I

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would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father . . . (1.2.20)

Is this a hint of a resemblance between Portia and Queen Elizabeth? The Queen was, indeed, constrained to choose a husband who would be in the best interest of the state. This stemmed not so much directly from her father as from her role as queen, but that was a result of her father having been king. Portias use of the word will, as force of intent or a legal document is another of Shakespeares frequent homonyms, which add to the richness of the dialogue and the pleasure of an attentive audience. Portia shows a keen intellect and the ability to put her thoughts into well chosen words, although perhaps sententiously. The long scenes where her inept suitors try to select the correct casket reveal her wit and selfconfidence. We have a hint of her pragmatism and ability to get to the quick of matters when she says, in truth I know it is a sin to be mocker (1.2.54), and proceeds to do just that to Monsieur Le Bon. She melts back into a lovesick girl when Bassanio arrives, but not so much that she loses track of a way to help him make his choice. The caskets, or rather choosing them, exhibits one of the recurrent themes of the play: interpretation. The suitors all see the inscriptions on the caskets and they all recognize the metal from which they are made. Their selection is made upon the same information yet they each choose a different one. Shakespeare spends quite a while with Morocco and Aragon so that we can see them as Portia and Nerissa see them and as they see themselves. Morocco is overly taken with his self-absorption and Aragon with self-promotion so there is little doubt they will choose the wrong caskets. Why, or how, does Bassanio select the correct casket? Portia helps him out with the song that is sung, but he also constructs a long argument that he purports leads him to the correct conclusion. Which do we believe to be the source of his selection? What does the entire casket episode say about the ways in which we delude ourselves with supposed objectivity? About the ways in which what we perceive is affected by our expectations and habitual thinking? There are other ways to think about the casket scene. This being a play put on for sixteenth century English audiences, suppose that Morocco is a stand-in for Islam, Aragon for Catholicism, and Bassanio for Protestantism. Then convolutions aside the scene illustrates the triumph of the simple religion of the People of the Book over the two competing ideologies of the day. Whether that makes sense is up to you. Portia has two exquisite speeches in Act Three Scene Two, one before and one after Bassanios choosing. The first is lyrical, How all the other passions fleet to air (3.2.108), fitting well into a play that has so much music. In the second, You see me Lord Bassanio where I stand (3.2.149),

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she expresses her love and offers herself and her fortune to Bassanio. She understands here, and later when she urges Bassanio to offer Shylock exorbitant sums, that money talks. Money is the language of this play. However, she is not so much the young girl as to be helpless for her strength of character emerges in the last lines of that speech.
PORTIA: This house, these servants, and this same myself Are yours, my lord, I give them with this ring, Which when you part from, lose, or give away, Le it presage the ruin of your love, And be my vantage to exclaim on you. (3.2.170)

This does indeed presage an important theme in the play: that Portia plans ahead and intends to be in control of the marriage. Almost at the end of Act Three Scene Two Portia shares a bit of herself with us. Bassanio has just admitted that he failed his friend, Antonio.
PORTIA: Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond : Double six thousand, and then treble that, Before a friend of this description Shall lose a hair through Bassanios fault. First go with me to church, and call me wife, And then away to Venice to your friend : For never shall you lie be Portias side With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold To pay the petty debt twenty times over. When it is paid, bring your true friend along, My maid Nerissa, and myself mean time Will live as maids and widows ; come away, For you shall hence upon your wedding day : Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer, Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear. But let me hear the letter of your friend. (3.2.298)

The tone of her language is commanding, continuing what we saw in the gift of the ring. They will announce their marriage in church and in the customs of the time (the English times) their marriage is a done deal. She ends her speech with, Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear. / But let me hear the letter of your friend. What is she saying? Is this another commercial term in a play about commerce? Is she anxious that Bassanio will take the money and run? Is she thinking back on her own travail as she awaited the consequences of her fathers will? Whatever the sense of Portias comment, Shakespeare doesnt spend much time on the formalities of marriage but he does keep Portia true to her businesslike character. There is talk of the consequences of marriage and negotiation and striving for all three

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of the couples in this comedy, but not one ceremony. That, however, is the way it is with Shakespeare. Whatever the reason, he does not spend much time on weddings. The rather odd But let me hear . . . plays multiple roles. It may be an expression of her trust in Bassanio that she would wait so long to hear the content of Antonios letter. On the other hand, it is jarring after the two rhymed couplets that precede it, bringing even more attention to Portia being in control. It is here in Belmont that Portia conceives her plan to save Antonio. She sends her servant off to her learned cousin Dr. Bellario in Padua, fully expecting to receive a legal opinion that will resolve Antonios predicament. Looked at as a bet it echoes the earlier one expressed by Gratiano and Nerissa.
GRATIANO: Well play with them [Portia and Bass.] the first boy for a thousand ducats. NERISSA: What and stake down? GRATIANO: No, we shall neer win at that sport, and stake down. (3.2.213)

Gratiano shares with us his male worry about performance. Portias confidence, with everything riding on that one action, is unconditional and rewarded.

THE COURTROOM
Shakespeares courtroom is hardly Venices courtroom. In that city the Duke (Doge) would not be the judge. Instead, there would be a panel of judges. In Venice the law was based on abstract principles and precedent. Englands law was based on statutes and precedent. Venices law was not Romes law, which was highly technical and more akin to something Shylock would recognize in form if not in substance. In Venice, the bond would have been invalid as it went against Scripture. While this would have been evident to an Italian audience and accordingly a source of humor, to an English audience the bond and the courtroom proceedings were at least plausible. Portia enters the courtroom after the proceedings have already begun with a winning hand and only slowly reveals it. She gives Shylock every opportunity to come away with profit, even having prepared Bassanio to make offers of large amounts of money. This act is a collection of beautiful speeches given by Portia, the Duke, Shylock and even Antonio. Portias The quality of mercy is not strain'd (4.1.180) lines are a gift from Shakespeare that has found a place in the literary heritage of the English stage. In this speech Portia elevates herself and speaks more like a biblical figure than a lawyer. Her words have little to do with any code of civil law, and she has appropriated mercy (and grace), reminding Shylock of the Christian message

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that in the course of justice, none of us / Should see salvation. Biblical sources for her opening simile (as well as its meaning) have long been argued by critics. One strong candidate is found in Ecclesiasticus. This book, also called The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, is part of the Apocrypha.
Oh, how faire a thing is mercie in the time of anguish and trouble! It is like a cloude of raine, that cometh in the time of a drought. Ecclesiasticus 35:19

But to whom is Portia directing this speech? She talks much about the thrond monarch and the powers of majesty. In spite of the beauty of this speech is her tone perhaps sententious? Does she really expect that Shylock will respond to what she says, somehow imagining himself a ruler in this land where he will always be an alien? Is she speaking to the only ruler in the room, the Duke, reminding him of the power and responsibility he embodies? The Duke, though, has limited powers. This (putatively) being republican Venice, he is not the law maker but he does have the ability to moderate the administration of justice. Is Shakespeare saying to a sympathetic audience how good a government they, the English, have, with its monarch having such powers? Is the contrast between Shylocks reliance on the law and Portias appeal to mercy actually a contrast between the Catholic Church and Protestantism? Is there irony here? Shakespeare and his audiences were aware of the merciless struggles between Protestants and Catholics on the Continent, and of the martyrdoms of both confessions in England and on the Continent. Polemical tracts full of legal and theological arguments and bitter words were issued by both sides. Is Portia acting to lull us into admiration and then drop us into introspection? Just after her memorable speech Portia informs us of the bond's actual condition: A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off / Nearest the merchant's heart (4.1.228). Once again and not for the last time, it is Portia who is in charge. After using a technicality in the law to defeat Shylock, Portia begins her Tarry, Jew (4.1.343) denouement. This ends with Down therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke, imperious, not merciful. Do you see a parallel with Jessicas actions when she took the jewels and then went back for more? Has Portia repeated these repeated blows? Shakespeare's ability to weave the threads of a play into an ironic fabric give Portia, as ringmaster, a never ending role. We see Portia leading Shylock down the road to defeat, not without his enthusiastic cooperation. What may not be quite so visible is the similarity to Lancelot's contention with his devil and his conscience. There, Lancelot had every chance to make the right choice, just as Shylock does. The clown gladly bows to expedience (and a full stomach). Shylock lets his desire for revenge overcome any good sense. If we have been attentive, we have seen the several times that Shakespeare brings food and eating into the play, and here it is again in the courtroom, if

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by allusion. There is even a nod to Christopher Marlowe, as Shakespeare uses irony in a way that is reminiscent of The Jew of Malta, This is carried out through Shylock's resistance to Portia's offers. Is there anyone in the audience or any reader of the play who has not been tempted, and succumbed to expediency (or worse), when he or she knew better? Is it only the Jewish miser who regrets his actions, or is it all of us? The courtroom is not all about Shylock and Portia. It is also about Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano, Nerissa and the Duke. We know that Bassanio has failed Antonio. Portia, Gratiano and Nerissa know it, too. The Duke doesnt. Shylock doesnt care. Bassanio and Gratiano heap abuse on Shylock even though the cause of all this was Bassanios thoughtless acts. Bassanio protests that The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all, / Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood (4.1.112). He sounds helpless and without any idea how to save Antonio. Portia, in charge of the courtroom dynamics and already confident that she will prevail, makes no mention of Bassanios failing. If the Duke had been told of Bassanios failure, would he could he have done anything differently? Is Portias manipulation of events a way to convince Bassanio of her devotion to him or is it to reaffirm her control? Portia, still in disguise, goes on to try to convince Bassanio to give his wedding ring to her in recognition of the service she provided. He refuses (a high moment for the otherwise morally flexible young man) and she leaves the courtroom under the impression that he has remained true to his promise never to part with the ring. But Gratiano quickly comes after her, ring in hand. Bassanio has been caught in the trap of his guilt, acquiescing to Antonios appeal, My lord Bassanio, let him have the ring, / Let his deservings and my love withal / Be valued gainst your wifes commandment (4.1.445). Portia may have some idea that Antonio was involved in this change of mind, because Gratiano says, My lord Bassanio upon more advice, / Hath sent you here this ring (4.2.6). She at least knows that her husband is not so very constant of purpose.

THE COURT AT BELMONT


This play is about money, and Portia is not set above that. She is courted by her motley array of suitors because she has money. She uses the money under her control to provide the otherwise helpless Bassanio with a means to help Antonio. In the final act, in the idyllic Belmont, Portia informs Antonio that his ships are come home and his living is safe.
PORTIA: Antonio you are welcome, And I have better news in store for you Than you expect : unseal this letter soon, There you shall find three of your argosies Are richly come to harbor suddenly.

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You shall not know by what strange accident I chanced on this letter. (5.1.273)

She makes the point that it is she who dispenses knowledge when and where she would. This includes directing Nerissa to tell Lorenzo and Jessica that they will inherit Shylocks wealth when he dies, saying My clerk has some good comforts too for you (5.1.289). Having saved Antonio and easily out-thought Bassanio (and Gratiano) in Venice, Portia arranges a further demonstration of command. In Belmont she returns to the subject of good deeds.
PORTIA: That light we see is burning in my hall : How far that little candle throws his beams, So shines a good deed in a naughty world. (5.1.89)

This might be a bow to Matthew 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. It is a return to doing good, emblematic of Portia. In any case, I suppose a little self-congratulation is not amiss after such effort. Portia proceeds to reduce Bassanio to distraction as she reproaches him as she had promised to do for giving up her ring.
BASSANIO: I was enforcd to send it after him, I was beset with shame and courtesy, My honor would not let ingratitude So much besmear it. (5.1.216)

Portia already knows there was additional advice after she had left the courtroom. Does she suspect that Bassanios honor and shame may have been more in regard to Antonio than to the lawyer? Portia has now quite defeated both Shylock and Bassanio. It is she who tenders mercy, although not without a humorous warning as she reveals that she was the doctor of laws. As her final gesture she leads everyone inside, leaving no doubt who is in charge at Belmont, nor being such an innocent girl that she would postpone forever the celebration of the two marriages.
PORTIA: It is almost morning, And yet I am sure you are not satisfied Of these events at full. Let us go in, And charge us there upon intergatories, And we will answer all things faithfully. (5.1.295)

It's a wrap the comedy is quite well finished. The pairs are married and Antonio is saved from loneliness. Act Five does what all the final acts of

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Shakespeare's comedies do. It is here that obstacles are removed and dangers are resolved. Happy days may be coming, although not without the shadows of Gratiano's warnings, Antonio's conspiring, and Portia's . . . shall we call it wisdom and serenity, or watchfulness?

EPILOGUE
This play is more about Portia and Shylock than about its titular hero, Antonio. Shylock seems to take over the play almost by accident, although he excuses himself before the final act. Portia stands in charge of every act. She begins as a young girl unhappy about her lack of the ability to choose and, although hardly three months have elapsed, matures into the confident lady in charge of Belmont and also in charge of her marriage. Is Portia more the merchant than Antonio? Does she create, modify and interpret contracts? Is it she who controls the exchanges of wealth and the advances of fortune? Is part of the comedy in this play that the nearly allmale audience will see that all the males in this play are easily manipulated by this young girl? She has re-secured the order of things, but at the same time quite thoroughly invaded and appropriated that order. One question hangs over Portias role: is she or is she not merciful? She preaches mercy even as she is ready to force Shylock onto his knees to beg for it. But even as she takes Shylock to the brink of death, she plans for his salvation (whether he wants it or not). What are your feelings about Portia as you leave this play? Have they changed as the play unfolded?

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7
READING THE PLAY SHYLOCK MAN OF MANY FACES

SHYLOCK: Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter My sober house. (2.5.35)

There are characters in this play who maintain a reliable persona, who may be complex but at least give us the impression that we know them much as they know themselves. Is that true of Shylock? Looking at the history of performances of this play, at the wide variety of appearances and manners given to Shylock there is reason to think not. Shakespeare created Shylock as a complicated character, not allowing us the comfort of the common human flaw of thinking of people, or of oneself, as having a single, consistent identity when the truth is otherwise. Shylock appears to think of himself as frugal and a good manager of his material fortune. He understands that Christians and Jews have been enemies for fifteen hundred years and his conflict with Antonio is a part of this larger picture, and there is no hope in ending it. He sees that it is the laws of Venice not feelings of good will or Christian mercy that provide him and his people with safety and an unpopular means to a livelihood. He tries to be a father in a typically sixteenth century way but cant imagine Jessica as being anything other than obedient. As with all of us, Shylocks view of himself is different from the way others see him. We are left with little indication as to how Shylock should appear to audiences other that he has a beard and wears gabardine. Is he ugly? Does he have some particular physical characteristics? This has been met with many variations by actors over the centuries. Shylock is consistent in his manner of speech, as are all of Shakespeares major characters. With Shylock it is repetition. When we met him in Act One Scene Three his lines are a clutter of repeated phrases, three thousand ducats, three months, no, no. no. When he berates Antonio in Act Three Scene One he repeats himself, Let him look to his bond, he was wont to call me usurer, let him look to his bond, he was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy, let him look to his bond (3.1.42). His great speech, just after those lines, is structured around a rhythmic repetition to wonderful effect. Shortly thereafter, when Tubal tells him that Jessica cannot be found

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he begins his tirade with, Why, there, there, there, there (3.1.76) and continues repeating words and phrases. Is this more than a tick? Is he trying to make himself clear and remove ambiguity? Is this a reflection of Shylocks dependence on the law meaning what it says? Keep in mind that quartos and folios are not entirely consistent about some of these repetitions, but for the most part they are there.

THE BOND
While in most peoples memories the play is associated with usury, the bond is inequitable but it surely is not interest and calling it usurious is a reach. The legal foundation for Antonios default is not some term that he cannot meet, but that he misses the date when the debt must be paid. Business is business and thats how things start between Shylock and Antonio. Shylock doesnt trust Bassanio to carry out the negotiation and says, May I speak with Antonio? (1.3.27) This immediately leads to Shylocks open refusal to eat with Christians, required by his dietary laws, I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. Antonio arrives just as Shylock has made this declaration. Shylock then provides us, the audience, with an aside, keeping his initial thoughts to himself. Paraphrasing this to reduce it a bit: I hate him and he hates me and this hatred goes far back in time; he is deliberately ruining my legitimate livelihood, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, which he calls interest; I will find a way to get revenge (1.3.36). Shylock is not one to keep his grievances to himself. Instead he shares them frankly with Antonio. After recounting the merchants insulting behavior, Shylock says,
SHYLOCK: . . . or should I bend low, and in a bond-mans key With bated breath, and whispring humbleness, Say this : Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last ; You spurnd me such a day ; another time You called me dog : and for these courtesies Ill lend you thus much moneys. (1.3.117)

Antonio has asked for money and Shylock responds about money. Shylock, though, goes further and talks about the humiliating acts Antonio has carried out upon him. How many times in human history could have Shylocks words been spoken by oppressed peoples? Antonio is frank in return, agreeing that the loan is between enemies. Shylock proposes that he would take no doit / Of usance for my moneys (1.3.136). Instead, the forfeit be an equal pound / Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken / In what part of your body pleaseth me (1.3.145). At this point in the play we do not know from where Shylock will take his pound of

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flesh. Does Antonio know at this time? Bassanio is there during this negotiation; does he know? Is the location part of the bond but not told to us just yet? Shylock treats the bond as a joke, saying, what should I gain / By the extraction of the forfeiture? (1.3.159) We know that he is driven by revenge and wants Antonio dead. If you were the director how would you have Shylock deliver these lines and how would Antonio receive them? Later, in Act Three, Shylock says, I will have the heart of him if he forfeit, for were he out of Venice I can make what merchandise I will (3.1.116), but that still might be an allusion rather than exact. It does, though, bring to mind the dreadful, and public, state executions where traitors were hung, cut down before they died and still alive, eviscerated. Does Shakespeare raise dramatic tension by his indirectness? It is Portia no surprise at that who discloses to us that the bond allows Shylock to claim / A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off / Nearest the merchants heart (4.1.228). Still in Act 3, Salerio and Solanio unpleasantly sound out Shylock about Antonios bond. Shylock spits out his contempt for the merchant, a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dares scarce show his head on the Rialto, a beggar that was used to come so smug upon the mart (3.1.39). Evidently, to Shylock poor money management is disgraceful.

FATHER AND DAUGHTER


Returning home from his encounter with Bassanio and Antonio, Shylock complains to Jessica about having to go to supper with these Christians.
SHYLOCK: I am not bid for love, they flatter me, But yet Ill go in hate, to feed upon The prodigal Christian. Jessica my girl, Look to my house, I am right loath to go, There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, For I did dream of money bags tonight. (2.5.13)

Lancelot tells Shylock that there will be a masque. Shylock thereupon warns Jessica to lock the doors and avoid the music of the noisy revelers, Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter / My sober house (2.5.35). Shortly thereafter he says shut doors after you, fast bind, fast find, / A proverb never stale in thrifty mind (2.5.52). Does Shylock consider himself frugal and protective of his daughter? Is he an unpleasant, controlling miser? Unmarried daughters in those times could have value as exchange objects. While a substantial dowry would be required, a good marriage could lead to financial gain through connections and obligations. From Jessicas point of view this must have been most oppressive. Was Jessica lost to Shylock long before Lorenzo came into the picture?

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Jessicas flight and the harrowing of Antonios two lap dogs are almost enough to drive Shylock to distraction. Perhaps he is pushed over the edge when his friend Tubal shows up. Tubals message is simple: Jessica was in Genoa spending lots of money. Shylock descends into a rage, frenetically cursing her, I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear : would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin (3.1.80). On top of that, Tubal reports that one of his traveling companions on the way back from Genoa showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey (3.1.108). Shylock believes that this ring had been a gift from his wife in happier days:
SHYLOCK: Out upon her, thou torturest me, Tubal, it was my turquoise, I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor : I would never have given it for a wilderness of monkeys. (3.1.110)

Was this the only ring that Jessica fled with and so it must be Leahs gift? Has Shylock, desperate, rushed to this conclusion? If the tale is true, did Jessica know that the ring belonged to her mother? In any case, how would you have the last sentence read? With anger? Despair? In what way? Does this reading shape the audiences feeling toward Shylock? What is the relationship between this scene and Act Four Scene One, in the courtroom?

DEAF EARS
Shylock makes an impassioned speech in the third act with what are perhaps his most memorable lines.
SALERIO: Why, I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh, whats that good for? SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal, if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge ; he hath disgracd me, and hindred me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies, and whats his reason? I am a Jew : Hath not a Jew eyes? ... (3.1.45)

He starts with words about money. But we already know this is a play in large part about money, and he moves on to the humanity he shares with Christians. He continues his speech and attacks Christians on their own grounds.
SHYLOCK: . . . and if you wrong us shall we not revenge? if we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his [the Christians] humility, revenge? If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by

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Christian example, why, revenge? The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

Is Shylock saying that Christians do not follow their New Testament injunctions to love and forgive? Is he saying that the Old Testament vengeful God is as well the God of Christians? He is talking with the inconsequential Salerio and Solanio. They appear to ignore him, but then Solanio makes a cruel remark at the arrival of Tubal, Here comes another member of the tribe, a third cannot be matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew (3.1.70). Whatever Shylock says will be to no avail except that it may unburden him. Is Shakespeare saying that anything Shylock may say will be as though it was never heard? How would you stage this? What would Salerio and Solanio be doing? To whom would Shylock be addressing this speech? Would it be directed to Salerio and Solanio or to the audience?

THE COURTROOM
The imagined Venice of Shakespeare insists on the sanctity of its laws. (The real Venice and the real England would have rejected the bond as inequitable.) Both Shylock and Antonio are aware of this. When Antonio is on his way to jail and they meet, there is an exchange between Antonio and Solanio.
SOLANIO: I am sure the Duke will never grant this forfeiture to hold. ANTONIO: The Duke cannot deny the course of law : For the commodity that strangers have With us in Venice, if it be denied, Will much impeach the justice of the state, Since that the trade and profit of the city Consisteth of all nations. (3.3.24)

As early as 1549, in the first book in English on the history of Italy, Thomas Wilson described a Venice that is in some ways like Shakespeares. Wilsons description of the liberty of strangers is not without amazement. He tells us that he that dwelleth in Venice may reckon himself exempt from subjection . . . If thou be a Jew, a Turk, or believest in the devil . . . thou art free from all controllment . . . which undoubtedly is one principal cause that draweth so many strangers thither. It seems as though the concept of privacy was far more developed in Venice than in any part of England. Wilson described the Jews in Venice in the canonical English fashion. He displays his distaste and superiority, and at the same time criticizes the Venetians (who bear the burden of not being English). It is almost incredible, he says, what gain the Venetians receive by the usury of the Jews . . . [who] are out of measure wealthy in those parts. It seems then that

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usury was not only approved of by the city but a substantial source of income to its government. This was in the character of the real Venice, an efficient tax collector where nearly every sale and every function, including hauling the citys waste, was taxed. Shylocks obsession with wreaking vengeance on Antonio reaches its culmination in the courtroom. He uses one argument after another to illustrate his intransigence, not bothering to mask himself with rationalization.
SHYLOCK: So can I give no reason, nor I will not, More than a lodgd hate, and a certain loathing I bear Antonio. (4.1.59)

The Duke, Antonio, Bassanio, Portia and even Gratiano scramble for the moral high ground. However, prior to Portias arrival Shylock challenges the Christians.
SHYLOCK: What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong? You have among you many a purchased slave, Which like your asses, and your dogs and mules, You use in abject and in slavish parts, Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, Let them be free, marry them to your heirs? Why sweat they under burdens? Let their beds Be made as soft as yours : and let their palates Be seasond with such viands : you will answer The slaves are ours. So do I answer you . . . (4.1.89)

Where is the injunction to do unto others as we would have them do unto us? Everyone simply ignores what Shylock says, and Portia was not there to hear it. While it may seem that Shylock is mired in the Old Testaments law, he as well understands that the wealth of Venice depends on its reliability as a trading partner. He also knows that the safety of the Jews in Venice depended less on mercy than on laws and consequently on the business interests of the city. Later Portia may implicitly reaffirm the bargain the state has made with its Jews and says, There is no power in Venice / Can alter a decree established (4.1.214). This statement of hers is in response to the uncomprehending Bassanios plea for the state to Wrest once the law to your authority. Shylock's repeated appeals to the law are ultimately his downfall, If you deny me, fie upon your law, / There is no force in the decrees of Venice, I stand here for law, My deeds upon my head, I crave the law, An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven : / Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?, I charge you upon the law, / Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar, / Proceed

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to judgment. Upon his defeat by Portia he asks, Is that the law? At the same time, or within the same character, Shylock exemplifies someone who ignores Matthew 6:19-21, that begins Lay not up treasures for yourselves upon the earth, where the moth and canker corrupt, and where thieves dig through and steal. So there is Shylock, his and his people's safety dependent on their wealth, but subject to the calumny flowing from the Christians of Venice. As modern readers we have to be careful not to apply our own cultural values and expectations to what was written four hundred years ago. What Shakespeare in some sense intended will always be inaccessible except by inference. What we see and how we emotionally respond is our immediate experience. There was no sympathy in the common mans view of Jews. Tolerance, even between Christians, was at best pragmatic but not a cultural goal. If Shakespeare was engaging in a radical critique of received truths about political order and authority there is little to prove it. It remains a tribute to the playwright that four hundred years have only whetted and not blunted his creative act. Portias subsequent defeat of Shylock maintains the inviolability of the citys laws. At least it does in some sense. We know from the casket plot that Portia will not break the law but she will bend it a bit, viz., the hints she gives Bassanio. In the courtroom Portia claims to discover and cite the law while actually going beyond that. She traps Shylock using her interpretations and his insistence on certainty. She asks Shylock to provide a surgeon but he refuses, saying I cannot find it, tis not in the bond. That said, his defeat is certain for she goes on to read the bond literally, This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. One drop of blood shed and Shylock loses everything. He responds. Is that the law? How might he say those fateful words? There are many ways surprised, angry, confused, sardonic, and more. Try out a few and see how they might change an audience's response. Shakespeare reminds us of an earlier scene as he continues. Portia says, For, as thou urgest justice, be assurd / Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest (4.1.311). We have already seen that Shylock engaged Salerio and Solanio concerning revenge, ending with The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction (3.1.65) Portia wasnt there to overhear those words but she might as well have been. Shylock acts out his warning as Bassanio asks, Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly? (4.1.121) Yet another angry dance takes place, this between Shylock and Gratiano. It is terminated by the Duke sounding relieved as Portia enters the scene in the guise of a doctor of laws. She moves on with carefully selected words. Soft, she says, The Jew shall have all justice, soft, no haste, / He shall have nothing but the penalty (4.1.316). This is followed by her interpretation of the law, prefaced by her second use of tarry. Keep in mind though, that we do not know for certain what the laws of Venice say and have

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice only Portia's word to rely on.


PORTIA: Tarry, Jew, The law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice, If it be proved against an alien, That by direct, or indirect attempts He seek the life of any citizen, The party gainst the which he doth contrive Shall seize one half his goods, the other half Comes to the privy coffer of the state, And the offenders life lies in the mercy Of the Duke only, . . . Down therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke. (4.1.343)

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Portia has put together words that spell defeat for Shylock: law, alien, citizen, mercy. We already know that the Duke will not compromise the law, but he may modify the penalty. Shylock knows that he is an alien in a city of citizens. His (and his peoples) safety and livelihood depend on the law but, all men being subject to error, they also depend on mercy in ameliorating the laws penalties. This mercy if indeed thats what it is will not be found in any of the citys books of rules and regulations. It will be constructed or negotiated by the head of state in any way he chooses. Portias Down therefore is hardly an expression of mercy and unconditionally throws Shylock at the feet of the Duke. The Duke chooses to pardon Shylock from death, replacing that penalty with the forfeit of his fortune. Shylock responds,
SHYLOCK: Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that, You take my house, when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house : you take my life When you do take the means whereby I live. (4.1.370)

It is possession that has such great significance to Shylock. He must possess a means to live, and this is how he thinks of Jessica and the jewels that she now possesses. Worse yet, she has not only fled from him but has been reported to have wasted some of those jewels in Genoa, wasting his possessions. Antonio, in his last lines in Act Five, Sweet lady, you have given me life and living (5.1.286), seems to be showing this same view of possessions as central to his living. How are the merchant and the Jew the same and how are they different? At Portias behest Antonio provides Shylock with mercy. It is in the guise of financial relief (sounding like an amendment to a contract) but at the cost of conversion to Christianity. This is carried out within another of

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Shakespeares cutting and carefully styled sets of speeches, with content passed back and forth. Antonio speaks to the Duke and the court, only incidentally to Shylock.
ANTONIO: So please my lord the Duke, and all the court To quit the fine for one half of his goods, I am content : so he will let me have The other half in use, to render it Upon his death, unto the gentleman That lately stole his daughter. Two things provided more, that for this favour He presently become a Christian : The other, that he do record a gift Here in the court of all he dies possessed Unto his son Lorenzo, and his daughter. DUKE: He shall do this, or else I do recant The pardon that I late pronouncd here. PORTIA: Art thou contented Jew? what dost thou say? SHYLOCK: I am content. (4.1.376)

The Dukes pardon was from execution. How does this differ from the martyrdoms of Christians under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I? There were legal niceties under Elizabeth. Jesuits and missionary priests were hung presumably for treason, not burned because of their choice of religion, but they were executed nevertheless. Catholic laypersons could usually get by with paying fines for missing Church of England services, unless they were too outspoken or helped priests. Portias use of legal technicalities and the Dukes moderation of penalties may well be echoes of these practices. At this point the defeated Shylock exits. There are no stage directions available to us. This has been a great challenge for actors and has generated many and very different portrayals.
SHYLOCK: I pray you give me leave to go from hence, I am not well, send the deed after me, And I will sign it. (4.1.391)

The imperative that Shylock convert is brought about as a consequence of his stubborn hatred. Antonio, the object of this hatred, plays the role of the self-sacrificing Christian but thrown into this predicament by the uncaring actions of the object of his love. Yet the consequence is not bad but good. In the eyes of Shakespeares audiences, conversion to Christianity was for Shylocks good, not at all a penalty. Whether Shylock agrees with this we do not know, and thats what makes his exit so hard to script. We only know what the play tells us. Perhaps the Duke is right and Shylock is uncapable

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of pity in the sense of not having empathy. Earlier Shylock said, The curse never fell upon our nation till now; I never felt it till now (3.1.77). Circumstances would never let him forget he is a Jew, but perhaps in his personal tragedy he gains some sense of empathy. Does Shylock perhaps reaffirm the law as the only source of safety for his Jewish fellows? Shakespeare has not quite finished with Shylock's conversion. As Shylock is leaving, Gratiano, fount of the blunt, adds a not so very veiled threat,
GRATIANO: In christning thou shalt have two godfathers, Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more, To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. (4.1.394)

One last historical point. It was the custom in Venice that when a Jew converted to Christianity all his goods were confiscated by the state. The energetic traveler and writer Thomas Coryate aptly described this in Coryats Crudities, published in England in 1611 (although some fifteen years after our play was written). This is what he said, they are left even naked, and destitute of their means of maintenance. As a consequence, he went on to observe, there were few conversions of Venetian Jews.

EPILOGUE
Shylock's part in this play is to be the butt of ridicule and insults and ultimately of what claims to be Christian mercy. While that may offend modern sensitivities many comedies of the time had some similar figure. Others of Shakespeare's plays had them, too. Can you sort out the stock figure Shylock, who could be in any comedy, from the fully human Shylock who gives this play its perpetual interest? Is Shakespeare telling the tale of a Shylock unable to see the Christian truth of salvation in Jesus? Would this make Jessicas role more understandable and sympathetic? Is that what Shakespeares audiences might have thought? Or is this play in part an exercise in current events? In that sense, is it only incidentally about Jews and more about the predicaments created by Christians for Christians? How would you hear Gratiano's final thrust at Shylock? Might any convertite risk being so welcomed? We see nothing more of Shylock except that Nerissa is sent to him to get the deed signed. What do you think happens to Shylock? What would he be in this Christian society if he did convert? Antonio had said, he stands obdurate (4.1.6), an epithet used for ages against Jews but also appearing in the Confessional struggles amongst Christians. Is there irony here embodied in the mistrust and hatred that existed between Christians? Did your feelings toward Shylock change as his fully human character was revealed? How would you compare Antonio and Shylock? Do you think that your feelings toward outsiders might be somewhat different after reading this play closely?

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8
READING THE PLAY BASSANIO SCHOLAR, SOLDIER, FORTUNE HUNTER?

BASSANIO: I will not fail you. (1.1.72)

Bassanio presents many faces to us. His entry always of importance in a Shakespeare play is with the line, When shall we laugh? (1.1.66) Having a good time is a preoccupation with this young man who has no responsibilities and, regrettably for him, no fortune. His very next line is, I will not fail you. There is a feeling of contradiction between these, and that is just what emerges as the play develops. Bassanio, just like the other characters in this play, has a distinctive manner of speaking. When he is not being Big Man on Campus he seems to be wheedling or hand-wringing, much like a teenager confronted with his first job. His long speech just before selecting the leaden casket in Act Three Scene Two is an exception, but he doesnt let it happen again.

WHO GETS THE MONEY, WHO GETS THE DEBT?


In the first Scene of the play, Bassanio confides to his close friend, Antonio, that he is broke, needs to get out of debt, and has a plan for doing just that. Bassanio evidently feels awkward about asking Antonio for even more money when he already is in debt to him. The young man recounts a tale that amounts to double-or-nothing, displaying his casual attitude towards other peoples money.
BASSANIO: In my school days, when I had lost one shaft I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight The selfsame way, with more advisd watch, To find the other forth, and by adventuring both, I oft found both. (1.1.140)

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Oft means sometimes or occasionally no promises here. Antonio, a successful merchant who has heard this before, says, You know me well, and herein spend but time / To wind about my love with circumstance. Just cut to the chase. Bassanios plan, of course, is to convince a rich heiress that he deserves her love. Theres no subtlety here, he just says so. Her name is Portia he says, and continues,
BASSANIO: . . . nothing undervalued To Catos daughter, Brutus Portia, Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth, For the four winds blow in from every coast Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece, Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchis strand, And many Jasons come in quest of her. O my Antonio, had I but the means To hold a rival place with one of them [her other suitors], I have a mind presages me such thrift, That I should questionless be fortunate. (1.1.165)

The myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece is wound up in this, not without a bit of satire. Jason kept his word even though he knew he had been tricked into a search that would be dangerous. Bassanio would like us to believe he was true to his word, but we will soon see that was hardly so (thered be no play without that failing). Jason called together the leading young men of Greece to be his companions in his quest. We will find out in the central Act Three Scene Two that Bassanio has his Gratiano, who tells the not very stalwart Salerio, We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece (3.2.240). Lastly, but at the same time the axle around which the play turns, Antonio lacks money at the moment. He asks Bassanio to assist him in the somewhat mundane quest of finding a source of credit. Bassanios not at all dangerous action is to ask Shylock for a loan for Antonio (not for himself), where the benefit will be his but the danger of the bond will be Antonios. When Nerissa reminds Portia of a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat (1.2.108) we have reason see Bassanio as a noble. (Thats what young nobles did: go to university, practice the art of war, and accompany titled persons.) This may well have been enjoyed by Shakespeares audience because they knew that quite a few of the English nobility were in debt and when in need of financial help often enough went to merchants. In England it was the merchants who could make the large loans required. It was they who had sufficient credit to secure loans and it was to them that the estates of the nobility were forfeit if the loans couldnt be repaid. In this partly real, partly imagined Venice the

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Jew was the money-lender. Not so in the very real England outside the theater doors. In the same spirit, there is additional comedy in seeing the young, marginally feckless Bassanio lead the all too willing noble merchant into a nearly fatal predicament.

IT ALL HAPPENS IN ACT THREE SCENE TWO


Does Bassanio know that Shylock and Antonio are sworn enemies? Yes. Later, in Act 3, while at Belmont, he tells Portia so directly.
BASSANIO: When I first did impart my love to you, I freely told you all the wealth I had Ran in my veins : I was a gentleman, And then I told you true ; and yet, dear lady, Rating myself as nothing, you shall see How much I was a braggart, when I told you My state was nothing, I should then have told you That I was worse than nothing : for indeed I have engagd my self to a dear friend, Engagd my friend to his mere [utter] enemy To feed my means. Here is a letter lady, The paper as the body of my friend, And every word in it a gaping wound Issuing life blood. (3.2.252)

With this, Portia, as well as the on-stage Nerissa and Gratiano, know that Bassanio has failed Antonio. In the first few lines of this speech Bassanio tries to tell Portia that he has no fortune, nothing. If he told her earlier that he had nothing but the blood in his veins it must have been when he said, Madam, you have bereft me of all words, / Only my blood speaks to you in my veins (3.2.175). That hardly seems a frank admission of rating myself as nothing. Perhaps it was the entry he made to Belmont, prepared by a messenger with a memorized speech designed to impress Portia with his (phony) wealth and quality. Now unmasked, Bassanio invokes a martyrlike image as he unburdens himself to Portia. He and Antonio appear to share a dramatic narcissism as a characteristic. It is when he chooses the leaden casket that we find the only time Bassanio lives up to what seems to be his own ideal. That itself is less than a triumph as the song, Tell me where fancy is bred, may have given him a hint. We have to rely on the director to let us know if Bassanio listened to the words, or perhaps was lost in thought. After the song has ended, Bassanio makes a long, ornate speech where he claims to arrive at the choice of the correct casket on his own, through insight. It begins, So may the outward shows be least themselves / The world is still deceiv'd with ornament (3.2.73). (Well, he is the one to know.) This mirrors Portias earlier Away,

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then! I am locked in one of them (3.2.40). Both speeches have classical allusions and a yearning tone. The effect of this is to show the young lovers as thinking alike. It is an expression of love that recognizes that The world is still deceived with ornament, that there is a seeming truth which cunning times put on / To entrap the wisest. Bassanio discovers that he has made the correct choice and reads the scroll that tells him that this fortune falls to you. It goes on to say, Turn you where your lady is, / And claim her with a loving kiss. Instead of claiming her Bassanio says,
BASSANIO: So thrice-fair lady, stand I even so, As doubtful whether what I see be true, Until confirmd, signd, ratified by you. (3.2.146)

Rather than take, he asks, and that is a lovely sentiment indeed, and hardly what Morocco or Aragon would have done.

THEN PARTS LIFE FROM HENCE


In the chock-full Act Three Scene Two, Portia makes it abundantly clear to Bassanio that the ring she gives him must stay on his finger. Her language is, on the one hand, cast in the terms of love, while on the other hand, it is vintage Portia, laying down conditions and ready to exact penalties. She already knows that Bassanio ignored Antonios plight, so perhaps she is trying to forestall such a situation befalling herself.
PORTIA: This house, these servants, and this same myself Are yours, my lord. I give them with this ring, Which when you part from, lose, or give away, Le it presage the ruin of your love, And be my vantage to exclaim on you. (3.2.170)

Bassanio nearly trips over himself to respond.


BASSANIO: Madam, you have bereft me of all words, Only my blood speaks to you in my veins, . . . but when this ring Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence, O then be bold to say Bassanios dead. (3.2.173)

Later, still in costume after her incognito courtroom triumph, Portia tries to persuade Bassanio to give up his wedding ring. He at last shows some fidelity and resists. She leaves, with reason to believe that he will be faithful at least to her. But Antonio then speaks up.

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ANTONIO: My lord Bassanio, let him have the ring, Let his deservings and my love withal Be valued against your wifes commandment. (4.1.445)

Bassanio is caught between his failure to Antonio, which came about in his wooing of Portia, and his promise to Portia. He chooses to fail the woman he loves.

MY FLESH, BLOOD, BONES, AND ALL


Returning to Act Three Scene Two, Bassanio seems to be wrapped up in paper. First, he finds the scroll in the leaden casket and shortly later receives Antonios note from Salerio. Shakespeare devotes several speeches to Bassanios laggardly admission that he has failed his friend, replete with parallels to Moroccos self-absorption and Aragons self-promotion earlier in the casket plot. Shakespeare is unremitting in pursuing Bassanios failure to Antonio. In the courtroom scene Bassanio has any number of opportunities to beg Antonios forgiveness or understanding, but he does not. The young man tries to claim outrage and the moral high ground. He has extravagant lines like, Good cheer Antonio. What man, courage yet : / The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all / Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood (4.1.111). That sounds as though he is helpless, a mere child with no idea of what to do. At best he is willing to throw money (Portias money) at Shylock, and even to figuratively (or is it literally) sacrifice Portia.
BASSANIO: Antonio, I am married to a wife, Which is as dear to me as life itself, But life itself, my wife, and all the world Are not with me esteemd above thy life. I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all Here to this devil, to deliver you. (4.1.278)

Portia responds, Your wife would give you little thanks for that, / If she were by to hear you make the offer. Bassanio continues along his inconstant path in the final act. When Portia teases him about giving up her ring to the lawyer, Bassanio protests.
BASSANIO: I was enforcd to send it after him, I was beset with shame and courtesy, My honor would not let ingratitude So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady, For by these blessed candles of the night,

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Had you been there, I think you would have begd The ring of me, to give the worthy doctor. (5.1.216)

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Is he saying that his gratitude to the lawyer brought about his shame, required his courtesy, and demanded his honor? Or was it to rectify his failure to Antonio? But we know it was Antonio who applied the screws. Can Bassanio ever be honest? Does he understand himself, his motives and values? He does at least appear to have good manners. When Lorenzo, Salerio, and Jessica appear at Belmont, Bassanio greets the men, deferring to Portia.
BASSANIO: Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither, If that the youth of my new interest here Have power to bid you welcome : [To Portia] by your leave I bid my very friends and countrymen Sweet Portia, welcome. (3.2.219)

Jessicas welcome is reserved for Nerissa, at the rather offhanded request of Gratiano.

EPILOGUE
What do you think about Bassanio? Is he a nice young fellow who will be kept on the straight and narrow by his wife? Will Portia always have to keep an eye on the purse, and on the maids? Does he seem honestly contrite about his poor service to his benefactor? What are the strengths and weaknesses of his character? Does Shakespeare play with us, using the ups and downs of the young lovers courtship to show us the workings of human nature?

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9
READING THE PLAY 3 JESSICA SALVATION OR ESCAPE?

JESSICA: I am never merry when I hear sweet music. (5.1.69)

Jessica might be just one more girl in a romantic comedy, placed there with Lorenzo, Portia and Bassanio, and Nerissa and Gratiano to make for a three-couple tidy closure. Taken more seriously, she might be part of Shylocks burden, depriving him of dignity and possessions. She converts to Christianity, seeming to meld marrying Lorenzo, conversion, and getting out of her fathers restrictive household. So she might be an example of a willing Jewish convert to Christianity, grateful and obedient to her husband. She is a complex figure and I shall try to show her many facets in what follows. Jessicas unmistakable voice is a combination of adventurousness and wistfulness. No one else takes the chance of happily tossing her fathers jewels out the window to her lover, and at the same time modestly protesting wearing a boys clothes.

OUR HOUSE IS HELL


We first meet Jessica in conversation with Lancelot.
JESSICA: I am sorry that thou wilt leave my father so, Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil Didst rob it of some of its tediousness ; But fare thee well. There is a ducat for thee, And Lancelot, soon at supper shalt thou see Lorenzo, who is thy new masters guest, Give him this letter, do it secretly. . . . LANCELOT: . . . most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew, if a Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. ... JESSICA: Fairwell good Lancelot. Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
3 This chapter owes a particular debt to Joan Ozark Holmer and Mary Jenell Metzger for their excellent work on The Merchant of Venice.

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To be ashamed to be my fathers child, But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners : O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise I shall end this strife, Become a Christian, and thy loving wife. (2.3.1)

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Shakespeares clowns have the liberty of saying directly what other characters may not say except obtusely. Here Lancelot gives us notice that Jessicas racial (i.e., ethnic) identity cannot be ignored. As for Jessica herself, she is on the way out, seeing marriage and conversion as escape from the home and heritage she disowns. This being a play about money, she announces her concern with it by giving some money (presumably her fathers) to this merry devil. There is a bit of what might be confusion or humor here, in that Judaism (that of the day and still retained by Orthodox Jews) has a law of matrilineal descent, rather than through the father. Even if a Christian did get her, she would still be Jewish. Of course, the Elizabethan English may not have known about this aspect of Judaism. Just how Jewish is Jessica? She says, although I am a daughter to his blood, / I am not to his manners. She confirms this as she flees from her home, does not hesitate to eat with Christians, and shows not a whit of filial love. Teenage angst, sincere despair or what? Whatever the source, we will see that not only Lancelot, but Lorenzo and Gratiano will not forget nor let her forget that she was born Jewish, even if she herself would prefer to distance herself from it. The elopement plot moves along quickly with Shakespeare sustaining a kind of dance that includes the go-between Lancelot and the exchange of money. There is money passed everywhere: from Jessica to Lancelot, from Lorenzo to Lancelot, from Jessica to Lorenzo, and of course between Shylock, Antonio, Bassanio and Portia. Lorenzo responds to Jessicas If thou keep promise when Lancelot gives him Jessicas letter. Lorenzo tells him, Hold here, take this [He gives him money], tell gentle Jessica / I will not fail her, speak it privately (2.4.19). After that, Lorenzo shares his plan with his friend Gratiano.
LORENZO: I must needs tell thee all, she hath directed How I shall take her from her fathers house, What gold and jewels she is furnished with, What pages suit she hath in readiness : If eer a Jew her father come to heaven, It will be for his gentle daughters sake ; And never dare misfortune cross her foot, Unless she do it under this excuse, That she is issue to a faithless Jew. (2.4.29)

Here we have, at least as Lorenzo recounts it, another woman taking

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charge and laying out a plan. However, Jessica doesn't have the wherewithal that Portia does and repeatedly expresses her need for Lorenzo. Lorenzo seems not so much in love that he will ever forget, or let Jessica forget, that she was born a Jew. What is Jessica getting into?

TRUST AND MISTRUST


Shylock has to trust Jessica with the keys to the house while he is gone to dinner. He instructs her to behave herself (as he sees it) during his absence.
SHYLOCK: What, are there masques? hear you me Jessica, Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum And the vile squeaking of the wry-necked fife, Clamber not you up to the casements then, Nor thrust your head into the public street To gaze on Christian fools with varnish't faces . . . (2.5.28)

She has already planned to do the exact opposite. When Lorenzo arrives at Shylocks house and calls to her, she not only opens the window but flees the house. Regardless of the planning, she expresses her need for certainty and reassurance. Lorenzo is in the costume of a masquer (although not all productions include this), so that sight alone may not be sufficient to identify him. Jessicas unease will recur several times as the play progresses.
JESSICA: Who are you? tell me for more certainty, Albeit Ill swear that I do know your tongue. LORENZO: Lorenzo, and thy love. JESSICA: Lorenzo certain, and my love indeed, For who love I so much? and now who knows But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours? LORENZO: Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art. (2.6.26)

She is enthusiastic about her elopement, although in contrast to Portia and Nerissa, she is hesitant about having to dress up in male clothing. As soon as she is sure it is Lorenzo below her window, she throws down a casket.
JESSICA: Here, catch this casket, it is worth the pains, I am glad tis night, you do not look on me, For I am much ashamd of my exchange : But love is blind, and lovers cannot see The pretty follies that themselves commit, For if they could, Cupid himself would blush To see me thus transformed to a boy. (2.6.33)

Shakespeare has returned to the casket theme that begins in Act Two

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Scene One. This time, however, there is no challenge involved. Lorenzo only has to stand there and take the risk of a broken bone. This repetition of theme asks us to compare Jessica and Lorenzo with Portia and Bassanio. These second two want each other but she is constrained by filial loyalty. Bassanio approaches Portia in the expensive clothes and the figurative costume provided by Antonios money. Jessica, though, has no restraint except her shyness and a feeling of uneasiness. Her lover wears a quite real costume. Shakespeare has made sure that the conflict between what you (think) you see and what you (seem to) get appears repeatedly throughout the play. Jessicas discomfort about her costume is attributed by some critics to the biblical injunction in Deuteronomy that The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto the man (Deut. 22:5). That seems unlikely because she seems to have no problem eating or drinking with Christians, stealing from her father or ultimately becoming a Christian. It may be a little humor on Shakespeares part as it was reported by English travelers that Venices courtesans wore their hair short and dressed in masculine styles. We still dont know if in some sense the gold and jewels belong to Jessica. Were they intended by her mother to be a dowry? Were they stolen outright from her father? There may not be much to doubt, though, for as she leaves she says,
JESSICA: I will make fast the doors and gild myself With some more ducats, and be with you straight. GRATIANO: Now, by my hood, a gentle, and no Jew. LORENZO: Beshrew me but I love her heartily. For she is wise, if I can judge of her, And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, And true she is, as she hath provd herself : And therefore like her self, wise, fair, and true, Shall she be placed in my constant soul. (2.6.49)

Looking at this from Lorenzos point of view, she is wise to leave her fathers house, trust in him, and convert to Christianity. She is fair, that is, pretty, just as Bassanio knows that Portia is fair. Theres more to Jessica being fair that stems from occasional distorted medieval opinions that Jews were dark and ugly, but then theres hardly any end to what hatred will justify. She is true and has done what she said she would do. Is that a complete picture? Is it self-serving for Lorenzo to assess her in this way? And there's Gratiano again, this time playing with gentle in its multiple meanings of Gentile,4 tender, and of the nobility. Later, in the central Act Three Scene Two Jessica and Lorenzo, accompanied by Salerio, show up in Belmont. Gratiano, never at a loss for an
4 Gentile is commonly used to mean not Jewish and held equivalent to Christian. However, both in older and in modern times it can also mean pagan, that is, neither Christian nor Jewish. Continuing confusion can be seen in the Geneva Bible and the KJV, and by comparing twentieth century versions.

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unpleasantry, immediately reminds the couple of their otherness, greeting them as Lorenzo and his infidel. To this, Lorenzo is apologetic for their presence, implying at least some sensitivity to what Jessica might feel. A few lines later Gratiano plays host, but not without being edgy, asking Nerissa to cheer yond stranger. Jessica, however, does not leave the scene. Listening to Salerio recount Antonios problems, she volunteers information about Shylocks intentions. Indeed, we already heard Shylock issue this threat when he said to Tubal, I will have the heart of him if he forfeit (3.1.116).
JESSICA: When I was with him, I have heard him swear To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen, That he would rather have Antonios flesh, Than twenty times the value of the sum That he did owe him : and I know, my lord, If law, authority, and power deny not, It will go hard with poor Antonio. (3.2.283)

Go back to the play and read this part of Act Three Scene Two carefully. Is there what amounts to a dialogue between Gratiano and Jessica even though they do not directly address one another? What is Jessicas motivation for sharing this information? Is she trying to be accepted by the others at Belmont? How would you stage this?

MARRIAGE AND CONVERSION


This being a comedy, it is no surprise that some little details of life are left unaddressed. We dont actually know if Jessica takes instruction and is baptized. The loan to Antonio is for three months so there would be time, but Shakespeare doesnt tell us. Her marriage is a matter of her own report when she mentions her husband in Act Three Scene Five: I shall be saved by my husband, he hath made me a Christian, and Ill tell my husband, Lancelot, what you say. The audience could have seen this as recognition of Jessicas instruction in Scripture because it is so close to what Paul has to say: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband (1 Corinth 7:14). In the same scene, Lorenzo playfully acknowledges that he is her husband, Even such a husband / Have thou of me as she [Portia] is for a wife. At least they agree. Jessica and Lorenzo could mean that they intended to be married and publicly declare so. Their mutual confirmation that they were married was actually enough to establish what was called a spousal contract and a legally valid marriage in England. Whatever the case might have been in this sketchy Venice, its a play in an English theater. Later in Act Four Shylock spits out his contempt for Jessica and her marriage. He seems to assume they are married, at least in spirit. On the other

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hand, perhaps he is being sarcastic. If you were the director how would you want an actor to deliver these lines?
SHYLOCK: These be the Christian husbands : I have [had?] a daughter; Would any of the stock of Barabas Had been her husband, rather than a Christian. (4.1.291)

There is a place in the play where Jessicas familiarity with Christian doctrine becomes apparent. Shakespeare starts with Jessica as the Jewish girl wanting to escape her closeted life, happy to convert and marry, viewed with mistrust by her new companions. In the midst of this she engages in theological argument, so evidently she had good instruction in her new religion. Lorenzo has asked her how she likes Portia.
JESSICA: It is very meet The Lord Bassanio live an upright life For having such a blessing in his lady, He finds the joys of heaven here on earth, And if on earth he do not mean it, is It reason he should never come to heaven? (3.5.67)

Jessica helps us see Belmont as a heavenly city (so to speak) here on earth where each shall receive his or her rewards. She continues to turn that inside out, in the sense that those rewards may be all Bassanio will ever see because it is grace not works that is the way to heaven. It is worth noting that this passage has been a matter of critical interest for one hundred fifty years or so. The text is unreliable; in particular, the word mean might be something other than the verb to mean, such as to avoid behaving in an extreme way. In any case, we are left wondering where Jessicas inspiration for this short speech came from. Would you agree that it sounds more like something Portia would say? Speaking of Portia, she and Jessica resemble one another in their devotion to their husbands-to-be and as they transfer their possessions to them. They are both exemplary of the Christian model (and the Elizabethan legalities) that a woman becomes subject to her husband. Of course, that theological requirement has always been open to interpretation, and there is no better interpreter in this play than Portia. Shakespeare goes even further with this idea of resemblance, including opposites as well. Jessica secretly leaves her fathers house, dissimulating to Shylock in regard to her conversation with Lancelot. Portia fictionalizes her whereabouts as she heads off for Venice, thus dissimulating to her husband. Jessica agrees to be Lorenzos torch bearer, although she is ashamed of the circumstances. When Portia returns to Belmont she elevates the poetic role of light as an introduction to her

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unashamed satisfaction with herself, So shines a good deed in a naughty world (5.1.91).

JESSICA AND LORENZO IN BELMONT


Shakespeare provides Jessica and Lorenzo with one of his loveliest duologues, musical enough to be called a duet, at the opening of Act Five. There in Belmont they play on the phrase in such a night. They speak of Troilus and Cressid,5 of Thisbe but omitting mention of Pyramus, of Dido while not saying the name of Aeneas, of Medea while silent about Jason all love stories that end tragically (and all excerpted either from Chaucers fourteenth century The Legend of Good Women or Goldings 1567 translation of Ovids Metamorphoses). The lovers end this saying,
LORENZO: In such a night Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, And with an unthrift love did run from Venice, As far as Belmont. JESSICA: In such a night Did young Lorenzo swear he lovd her well, Stealing her soul with many vows of faith, And neer a true one. (5.1.20)

Evidently Lorenzo must adhere to the language of the play, using metaphors of commerce and thievery. Neither does he let Jessica forget who her father is nor what she did. She reverses his use of steal. Is she reminding him that his ambiguous use of it was not at all helpful, and that she chose the path to salvation on his promise? Are they both concerned that this could become another tragic love affair? After this and just before Portia arrives, Lorenzo instructs one of her servants to bring your music forth into the air (5.1.53) so as to draw her home with music (5.1.68). In response to this Jessica tells Lorenzo I am never merry when I hear sweet music (5.1.69). Lorenzo tries to reassure her but, as so often with so many characters in this play, he serves his own purposes best. He ends his speech to her with The man that has no music in himself, / Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, / Is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils (5.1.83). This is hardly something to relieve Jessicas concern.

UNDERSTANDING JESSICA
Part of understanding Jessica is the sixteenth century belief that misfortune, physical debility, ugliness, sickness, bad weather . . . anything
5 In 1601/2 Shakespeare

was to write his play Troilus and Cressida.

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bad, could be a punishment from God, a sort of doctrine of judgments. God was actively involved in daily affairs and not at all hesitant to use a hard, fatherly hand against those out of favor. Jessicas behavior could well have been Shylocks punishment, with Shakespeare's audiences remaining sympathetic to her. Is Lorenzo's act of marrying her true love conquering prejudice? Were the reports to Tubal of their wasting money in Genoa mean-spirited rumors? Is Lorenzos hesitance about bringing Jessica to Belmont to protect her from possible anti-Jewish feelings? Does Nerissa open her arms to Jessica to welcome her into Belmont?

EPILOGUE
Where are your sympathies regarding Jessica? Does your opinion of her change as the action unfolds and the possibilities expand? She has at least found a more constant love in Lorenzo than Portia has in Bassanio. Lorenzos I will not fail her (2.4.20) is proven in his caring actions, even though he will never let forget she was born a Jew. Has Jessica cast off her Jewish heritage and her filial loyalty, and as in a masque, drawn on the behavior Gratiano would expect from Christians? Is Lorenzo so taken by material goods that he sees virtue in theft? Does the sarcastic, ribald Gratiano have a more objective view of all this than everyone else? Is Jessica so carried away with excitement that she goes back for more money without any thought that she is stealing? Does her rejection of Judaism justify her theft? Is this play all about money and material goods? Is Shakespeare directing our attention to what it means to be Jewish or, for that matter, to be Catholic or Protestant? Is he suggesting that what we might now call ethnic identity is a matter of perception and not of substance? Is he saying that, substance or not, in the eyes of others this identity may be hard to shed?

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10
READING THE PLAY GRATIANO (AND LANCELOT)

Gratiano and Lancelot (in some editions Launcelot) are both Bassanios servants, and they are both mockers. Gratiano gets a place in Belmont along with Nerissa as his wife, while Lancelot is left in Venice with a fancy uniform and, we hope, a full stomach. They both play the role of fool, although Gratiano is incisively sarcastic and Lancelot is the unremitting but still incisive clown. As with all of Shakespeares fools, they can say what others cannot.

GRATIANO - THE MOCKINGBIRD


GRATIANO: Let me play the fool. (1.1.79)

Gratiano enters the play in a manner fitting his name, which resembles the Italian for gracious. He tries to cheer up the melancholy Antonio with a rather long-winded speech that starts nicely enough but ends with telling him, But fish not with this melancholy bait / For this fool gudgeon, this opinion (1.1.101). Gudgeon is a bait fish worth little in itself. With this we get the hint that Gratianos personality may run contrary to his name. We have already been warned, though, because Let me play the fool is nearly his first line. His manner of speaking is blunt. Whatever he thinks, he says. Lorenzo good-naturedly complains that Gratiano never lets him speak, with which Gratiano (and Bassanio) agree. There is a little interplay with words that show us Gratianos quick wit.
LORENZO: Well, we will leave you then till dinnertime. I must be one of these same dumb wise men, For Gratiano never lets me speak. GRATIANO: Well, keep me company but two years more, Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue. ANTONIO: Fare you well, Ill grow a talker for this gear. (1.1.105)

He has mockingly snatched the word well from Lorenzos mouth. It even appears that Antonio is playing this word game as a few lines later he

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice says to Bassanio,


ANTONIO: Well : tell me now, what lady is the same To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage That you today promisd to tell me of. (1.1.119)

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Well, who knows whether Antonio is in or out? Gratiano pops in and out of the play and in his next brief appearance, in Act Two Scene Two, he asks Bassanio if he may go with him to Belmont. Bassanio agrees, cautioning him to behave in a civilized fashion.
GRATIANO: Signor Bassanio, hear me, If I do not put on a sober habit, Talk with respect, and swear but now and then, Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely, Nay more, while grace is saying hood mine eyes Thus with my hat, and sigh and say Amen : Use all the observance of civility Like one well studied in a sad ostent To please his grandam, never trust me more. (2.2.180)

Here Shakespeare uses Gratiano to make fun of the over-zealous Puritans. These redoubtable souls kept trying to close the theaters, restrict music to the accompaniment of religion, and enforce other such actions best suited for the perpetually eschatologically-minded. Gratianos next significant appearance is along with the masquers in order to spirit away Jessica, in Act Two Scene Six. He has an intriguing part there, with one long speech and another that is quite brief. In his long speech, directed to Salerio, he repeats a recurrent theme in Shakespeares plays, that all things that are, / Are with more spirit chasd than enjoyd (2.6.12). Whats noteworthy here is that this speech is similar in tone and form to those of Salerio and Solanio in the opening scene of the play. Its almost as though Gratiano had been listening, out of sight. In his short speech in Act Two Scene Six, Gratiano displays his grating wit. Jessica has just informed the group that she will be with them immediately, along with the jewels and money she is taking. Gratiano says, Now by my hood, a gentle and no Jew (2.6.51). The usual gloss on by my hood is that it is an old saw or it may refer to the hood that was part of a costume he wore for the masque. However, in the context of the line, where gentle is a pun on Gentile, it can be a sexual joke on Gratianos uncircumcised state. In any case, his sarcasm is hard to miss. Jessica is absconding with her fathers treasure and heading for a banquet with Christians where she is prepared to violate her dietary laws, marry Lorenzo and convert. This is followed by Lorenzos lyrical description of her as

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wise, fair, and true. The difference here is that Lorenzo seems unaware of the moral dimensions of her act. In Act Three Scene Two, Gratiano has pledged to marry Nerissa, who has a chance if anyone can of keeping him in line. When Lorenzo, Jessica and Salerio enter Belmont, Gratiano says, But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? (3.2.217) Gratiano, just as Lorenzo and Lancelot, will never let Jessica forget who she is. He is polite enough to hand her off with Nerissa, cheer yond stranger, bid her welcome. As Shakespeare uses Gratiano to make fun of Puritans, he also uses him to depersonalize Jessica. Gratiano demonstrates that he and Bassanio are great pals as he says
GRATIANO: Whats the news from Venice? How doth that royal merchant good Antonio ; I know he will be glad of our success, We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece. (3.2.237)

Recall that Bassanio had spoken of Jason when he described his pursuit of Portia to Antonio,
BASSANIO: . . . her sunny locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece, Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchis strand, And many Jasons come in quest of her. (1.1.169)

The two young men must have talked about this exploit, planning it with many a laugh. So it is not unexpected when Gratiano asks to come along to Belmont. Gratiano finds a place in the courtroom. He knows that Bassanio failed Antonio and created the conditions of his predicament, but he behaves just like Bassanio by piling on to Shylock. He launches into a flight of fantastic similes as he says to Shylock, Oh, be thou damnd, inexecrable dog . . . (4.1.128). Gratiano ends this speech with a riff on a wolf hanged for human slaughter followed by a characterization of Shylock as having desires that Are wolvish, bloody, starved, and ravenous. Perhaps it is worth remembering that under the Tudors executions for treason were intended to be most terrible, worse than mere hangings. In Elizabeths reign Jesuits and missionary Catholic priests were considered traitors. Their deaths included hanging but they were cut down before dying. They were then eviscerated while the crowd watched. In all of the sixteenth century in England there was only one instance where the victim was a Jew. That was in 1594 when Roderigo Lopez, a physician to the Queen, was perhaps involved in a perhaps plot against her. While this may have been in the mind of Shakespeares audiences, other such deaths were of Christians. But this

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interpretation shows some of the problems of reading too much into Shakespeare. Perhaps wolf is a play on lupus, the Latin for wolf, which is in turn, a play on Lopez. Or perhaps it is a reference to the English law that gave a dog owner the choice of hanging a dog that killed or damaged some neighbors sheep, or paying indemnity. The point here is that one has to be careful not to impose too many of our modern sensibilities on the Elizabethans. Gratiano's rude and crude digs at Shylock are part of what the play's sixteenth century audiences would have expected. There was a long tradition of theater that set up for laughs a villain like Shylock against one or more pestering figures like Gratiano. While Shakespeare brings a subtlety and perception to Gratiano that makes his role more than trivial, it is not any surprise to find either him or Shylock in the play. Apparently exhausted from this histrionic effort, Gratiano is silent until he echoes Bassanios willingness to sacrifice Portia in exchange for Antonio.
GRATIANO: I have a wife who I protest I love, I would she were in heaven, so she could Entreat some power to change this currish Jew. NERISSA: Tis well you offer it behind her back, The wish would make else an unquiet house. (4.1.286)

Once again Gratiano has picked up on someone elses words and imitated them. He continues his crude comments even as all the other people, in one way or another, foster the triumph of mercy. Gratiano has the honor of the last speech in the play. It is of the leave em laughing variety, funny enough to remove any misgivings about his character.

LANCELOT LEADING WITH HIS STOMACH


LANCELOT: The fiend gives the more friendly counsel. (2.2.29)

Lancelots mangled speech and convoluted advice make him the slapstick comic the audience expected. Hes not a fool, not the kind employed for his talents Shylock would hardly have spent money for that but a clown as in clowning around, and employed to do some kind of work. His main concern seems to be for his next meal, which makes sense given his precarious existence. His next favorite subject is sex, and that carries over in his talks with Jessica. Awkward and scurrilous but hardly stupid, he and Gratiano share a satirical view of society. Lancelot appears in only a few scenes. Critics speculate that whoever played his role had another one also and needed time to change costume.

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Limited in time on stage, he is to the point when speaking about Shylock and with Jessica. In his first appearance he is in a debate between his conscience and a fiend about leaving Shylocks service, right out of the old-fashioned morality plays. In his soliloquy he says,
LANCELOT: . . . fiend, say I, you counsel well, to be ruld by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil ; and, to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, who saving your reverence, is the devil himself : certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation, and in my conscience, my conscience is a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew ; the fiend gives the more friendly counsel: I will run.fiend, my heels are at your commandment, I will run. (2.2.20)

Expediency wins the day. There are a half-dozen or so times in the play when Shylock, or Jews in general, are called devils. This was a standard charge in anti-Jewish language found in European literature for centuries. As for this debate with his conscience, is Lancelot the only one who pauses to weigh good and bad? Do all the other characters appear to know what they must do without ever questioning themselves? There is one particularly long, convoluted appearance of the clown. In Act Two Scene Two Lancelot talks with his blind father, Gobbo. This is a play against the tale of Jacob and his father Isaac in Exodus. Rather than something only a clown would do, it fits with Shylocks expostulation on Jacob and his uncle Laban earlier in Act One Scene Three. This use of the story of Jacob is, in turn, echoed by Bassanio and Gratiano as they share in the story of Jason and the golden fleece. Shakespeare gives his clown a glib, if tangled tongue. When Lancelot meets Bassanio, they have a brief conversation.
BASSANIO: Shylock thy master spoke with me this day, And hath preferd thee, if it be preferment To leave a rich Jews service, to become The follower of so poor a gentleman. LANCELOT: The old proverb is very well parted between my master Shylock and you sir, you have the grace of God sir, and he hath enough. (2.2.138)

The proverb is, He who has the grace of God has enough. But Lancelot has already let us know that in Shylocks house he doesnt get enough to eat (or enough sleep). Further, Lancelot believes that Bassanio, despite his protests of poverty, sets a good table. Notice that Shakespeare gives Lancelot a voice only for jumbled prose, not either elegant iambic pentameter or

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flowing speech. Lancelot is soon on stage to talk with Jessica. It is here that he and Gratiano come closest in their frequent anti-Jewish expressions.
LANCELOT: . . . most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew, if a Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. (2.3.10)

Like Gratiano, Lancelot has a knack for mockery. When he and Shylock come to look for Jessica at home, Lancelot quickly evokes Shylocks frustration.
SHYLOCK: Why Jessica, I say. LANCELOT: Why Jessica. SHYLOCK: Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call. LANCELOT: Your Worship was wont to tell me I could do nothing without bidding. (2.5.6)

Immediately following that, Shylock expresses his unrest about going to dinner with Bassanio. Lancelot, never without a response, mocks Shylocks fears. He even repeats the syntactical form of Shylocks lines.
SHYLOCK: I am right loath to go. There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, For I did dream of moneybags tonight. ... LANCELOT: I will not say you shall see a masque, but if you do, then it was not for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on Black Monday last, at six oclock ith morning, falling out that year on Ash Wednesday was four year in thafternoon. (2.5.16)

Lancelot is part of the money, commerce, and possessions themes of the play. In Act Two Scene Three Jessica gives him a ducat as he is about to leave Shylock and take service with Bassanio, or perhaps it is to carry a letter to Lorenzo. Sending him back to Jessica, Lorenzo gives him some money. When he jokes with Jessica in Act Three Scene Five it is about not having enough money to buy pork if Jews convert to Christianity. As Jessica is getting ready to elope, she and Lancelot speak again.
LANCELOT: . . . be of good cheer, for truly I think you are damnd, there is but one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is but a kind of bastard hope neither. JESSICA: And what hope is that I pray thee? LANCELOT: Marry you may partly hope that your father got you not, that you are not the Jews daughter.

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JESSICA: That were a kind of bastard hope indeed, so the sins of my mother should be visited upon me. (3.5.4)

Lancelot is back to Jessicas parentage, still not able to believe that someone so lovely could be Jewish. This may be related to the general belief that when bad things happened, even ugliness, someone was to blame. For instance, if Shylock deserved Jessicas treatment of him because he was bad, then he may well have been portrayed as ugly. If Jessica is beautiful, she must be good and how can she be good if she is Jewish?

EPILOGUE
Gratiano and Lancelot appear to be from the popolo minuto, the common folk excluded from involvement in civic government. They speak directly, without the gracious masquerading of the upper classes. Italian and English politics shared one characteristic that constantly worried Elizabeths government: the potential for civil unrest. Shakespeare uses the threatening language particularly of Gratiano but never far from Lancelot to create a backdrop of worry for Shylock and his fellow Jews. Was this a proxy for London anti-alien riots that took place in the 1590s? There were no Jews involved in these, just fellow Christians who had immigrated and were the focus of xenophobic hysteria.

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11
READING THE PLAY MUSIC AND FOOD (OR IS IT EATING?)

There was a lot of good music in Elizabethan England. Lacking radios and mp3 players, people played instruments or sang, and some read music. The Queen herself played the virginal (a small harpsichord) and the lute. There was music in church, in the streets and in homes, in the royal court, and in theaters. Music of some of the composers of the period, William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and Orlando Gibbons among them, is still performed. The styles included polyphonic motets for the church and madrigals for pleasure. There were also ayres that could be sung solo or by multiple voices. There was no lack of popular songs and ditties that were published (and still available in collections). Music and food have a natural connection as parts of entertainment, and that is how Shakespeare often treats them. In The Merchant of Venice a masque is intended to be performed at a banquet. Shylock expected the masque to spill out into the street, just as young peoples parties sometimes do today. It was under cover of a masque that Jessica and Lorenzo eloped.

MUSIC
There are two particularly obvious places where music is used in our play: the casket scene, and Belmont.

Notes from the Caskets


The three scrolls found in the caskets are songs a bit lame, but there they are. They are all in (more or less) seven syllable lines rhymed in one way or another. Each of these notes is followed by a speech in rhymed couplets delivered to Portia. The first two caskets, opened by the long-winded Morocco and the pompous Aragon, are burlesques where the songs and responses are befitting of the speakers characters. Here are some lines from those two scenes. First from Morocco, who sees himself quite the gift to women:

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MOROCCO: [reading the writing] All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told ; Many a man his life hath sold But my out side to behold ; ... Your answer had not been inscrolled. Fareyouwell, your suit is cold. Cold indeed, and labour lost, Then farewell heat, and welcome frost : Portia adieu, I have too grievd a heart To take a tedious leave : thus losers part. PORTIA: A gentle riddance : draw the curtains, go ; Let all of his complexion choose me so. (2.7.65)

And now the pompous Aragon,


ARAGON: [reading the schedule] The fire seven times tried this, Seven times tried that judgment is, That did never choose amiss, Some there be that shadows kiss, Such have but a shadows bliss : . . . Still more fool I shall appear By the time I linger here, With one fools head I came to woo, But I go away with two. Sweet adieu, Ill keep my oath, Patiently to bear my wroth. PORTIA: Thus hath the candle singd the moth : O these deliberate fools when they do choose, They have the wisdom by their wit to lose. (2.9.63)

Bassanios Choice of a Casket


Portia very much wants Bassanio to choose the correct casket but she must obey her fathers wish not to disclose which one it is. Being a creative, goal-oriented person, not restricted beyond the actual terms of her promise, she devises a means to her end.
PORTIA: Away then, I am lockd in one of them, If you do love me, you will find me out. Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof, Let music sound while he doth make his choice, Then if he lose he makes a swan-like end,

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Fading in music. That the comparison May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream And watery death-bed for him : he may win, And what is music then? Then music is Even as the flourish, when true subjects bow To a new-crowned monarch : Such it is As are those dulcet sounds in break of day, That creep into the dreaming bridegrooms ear, And summon him to marriage. Now he goes With no less presence, but with much more love Than young Alcides [Hercules], when he did redeem The virgin tribute, paid by howling Troy To the sea monster : I stand for sacrifice; (3.2.40)

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Portia tours the world of music. She first awakens it, then listens as it fades, anticipates music as the flourish of loyalty and happiness, hears the seductive sounds summoning to marriage, and at last, as the dreaded possibility of Bassanios failure. She also anticipates the music we will hear at Belmont in Act Five. Her call for music is immediately answered. The stage direction is, A song, the whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets to himself.
Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart, or in the head : How begot, how nourished. Reply, reply. It is engendered in the eyes, With gazing fed, and fancy dies, In the cradle where it lies : Let us all ring fancys knell. Ill begin it. Ding, dong, bell. (3.2.63)

Its not much, but it is to the point, beginning with a strong rhymed hint to choose lead and moving to the more subtle clue to avoid fancy. At the same time, Bassanio goes through a long, ornate speech that sounds like something he overheard somewhere. He makes the correct choice, but did the song have any bearing on it? That is up to you. There may be a hint in Bassanios rhymed speech which changes from unrhymed just after he opens the casket. Shakespeare uses rhymed iambic pentameter for special emphasis, and the song, although in doggerel, is the only other rhymed section in the scene.
BASSANIO: [reading the scroll] You that choose not by the view

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Chance as fair, and choose as true : ... Turn you where your lady is, And claim her with a loving kiss. A gentle scroll : Fair lady, by your leave, I come by note to give, and to receive, ... So, thrice-fair lady stand I even so, As doubtful whether what I see be true, Until confirmed, signd, ratified by you. PORTIA: You see me Lord Bassanio where I stand, Such as I am : though for my self alone I would not be ambitious in my wish, . . . (3.2.131)

In contrast to her unwanted suitors, Portia makes only a brief attempt at a rhymed response and then continues to pledge her love and express her happiness. Shakespeares attention to details is always a delightful surprise. This entire to-do is about interpretation, one of the many what is this play abouts. Even beyond Portias hints, the choices made by the three suitors are acts of interpretation. These acts extend inward as each man sees himself in relation to the way he sees the metal.

Belmont
Belmont, in Act Five, is full of music. In Renaissance times music was associated with the sounds of the heavenly spheres, reflecting the celestial harmony so apt for romances. The act opens with Lorenzo speaking to Jessica about sound. Their lines are beautiful, although they move quickly to the prospect of a tragic love affair.
LORENZO: The moon shines bright. In such a night as this, When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, And they did make no noise, . . . (5.1.1)

He continues to prepare a welcome for Portia, assuring us that there will be off-stage music for all to hear.
LORENZO: Lets in, and there expect their coming. And yet no matter : why should we go in? My friend Stefano, signify [make known] pray you,Within the house, your mistress is at hand, And bring your music forth into the air. (5.1.49)

There follow repeated mention of music and sound until after Portia is welcomed home. Here is one fragment. Is it a criticism of the straight-laced

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Puritans who would censure entertainment and for whom church music was to be the unadorned setting for scriptural text?
LORENZO: The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils, The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted : mark the music, (5.1.83)

Mention of music ends with Portias elegant disquisition as Shakespeare paints a word picture with quick strokes.
PORTIA: That light we see is burning in my hall : How far that little candle throws his beams, So shines a good deed in a naughty world. NERISSA: When the moon shone we did not see the candle. PORTIA: So doth the greater glory dim the less, A substitute shines brightly as a king Unto the king be by, and then his state Empties itself, as doth an inland brook Into the main of waters : music, hark. NERISSA: It is your music, madam, of the house. PORTIA: Nothing is good, I see, without respect [comparison], Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day. NERISSA: Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam. PORTIA: The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark When neither is attended : and I think The nightingale, if she should sing by day When every goose is cackling, would be thought No better a musician than the wren. How many things by season, seasond are To their right praise, and true perfection : Peace, how the moon sleeps with Endymion, And would not be awakd. [Music ceases] (5.1.89)

It is worth mentioning here that Portia has once again spoken of doing good, just as she had earlier: I never did repent for doing good (3.4.10).

FOOD (OR IS IT EATING?)


It cant be any surprise that almost every one of Shakespeares plays mentions food or eating. Rather than catalog every instance in our play, I will try to point out those that may have particular bearing upon the plots.

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The Dinner That Doesnt Take Place


Bassanio, Gratiano and Lorenzo together come upon Antonio, Salerio and Solanio in Act One Scene One, whereupon a dinner for all is arranged that evening. In Act One Scene Three, Bassanio invites Shylock to dine with us. Shylock responds bitterly.
SHYLOCK: I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following : but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. (1.3.30)

Antonio arrives and Shylock makes a long aside.


SHYLOCK: If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. (1.3.41)

Then aloud to Antonio:


SHYLOCK: Rest you fair good signior. Your Worship was the last man in our mouths. (1.3.54)

Shylocks anger, his disgust and his metaphorical devouring emphasize his antipathy towards Christians and to Antonio in particular. The dialogue that surrounds this shows Shylock not just as a single malevolent person, but as a Hebrew, all of whom by implication are at odds with Christianity. Shylock returns to the subject of food as he protests that these Christians suspect him of hard feeling.
SHYLOCK: A pound of flesh taken from a man, Is not so estimable, profitable neither As flesh of muttons, beef, or goats. (1.3.161)

We, as the audience, already know that Shylock despises Antonio and most likely will want the bond in spite of what he just said. In Act Two Scene Three we find that Jessica already knows that Lorenzo will be at the dinner, as she gives Lancelot a letter for him. This fits neatly together confirming Shylocks distrust of Christians. Lorenzo is already planning to use the dinner to launch his elopement with Jessica. Shylock has a bad feeling about Bassanios invitation to supper but justifies going saying that it would be wasting their money.
SHYLOCK: I am bid forth to supper Jessica, There are my keys : but wherefore should I go? I am not bid for love, they flatter me,

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But yet Ill go in hate, to feed upon The prodigal Christian. (2.5.11)

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Lancelot, in his role as frequent messenger, tells Shylock that there will be a masque as part of the supper. Shylock responds with a warning to Jessica.
SHYLOCK: What, are there masques? hear you me Jessica, Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum And the vile squeaking of the wry-necked fife, Clamber not you up to the casements then . . . (2.5.28)

Not liking music, Shylock sounds like a man Lorenzo would not trust. The masque never takes place, although it almost does. Lancelot shows up with a letter from Jessica, and Lorenzo collects his friends to carry out the elopement. Antonio closes out the dinner, Tis nine oclock, our friends all stay for you. / No masque tonight, the wind is come about (2.6.63). Bassanio is on his way to Belmont and the two lovers are off to Genoa. Shylock is not to be seen. Has he avoided eating with the Christians? After learning of Jessicas elopement, Shylock argues with Salerio on the value of the bond.
SALERIO: Why I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh, whats that good for? SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. (3.1.45)

Shylock then hears from Tubal of Jessicas profligate spending in Genoa, we assume on dinner and baubles.
TUBAL: Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night fourscore ducats. SHYLOCK: Thou stickst a dagger in me, I shall never see my gold again, fourscore ducats at a sitting, fourscore ducats. (3.1.98)

Terrible news for Shylock, money spent and at that on food.

Lancelot Leads With His Stomach


We encounter Lancelot after he has debated with his conscience, and as he complains to his father, I am famish'd in his service. You may tell every

finger I have with my ribs. (2.2.101).


Aside from the reversed syntax, what Lancelot says to his blind father is reminiscent of the Old Testament story of Jacob and his father. This is no accident because in Act One Scene Three Shylock had already gone to long,

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involved lengths in talking about Jacob to Antonio. There does seem to be a difference of opinion regarding Lancelots diet. While he thinks himself underfed, Shylock thinks the opposite, and tells him so, Thou shalt not gormandize / As thou hast with me (2.5.3). And a bit later, The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder (2.5.45).

Belmont
At Belmont, still prior to the courtroom scene, Bassanio at last declares to Portia that he has jeopardized the life of a friend. Echoing Shylocks repeated use of feed, Bassanio says,
BASSANIO: I have engagd myself to a dear friend, Engagd my friend to his mere [absolute] enemy To feed my means. (3.2.260)

The focus comes back to Lancelot and Jessica as they talk of Jessicas conversion.
LANCELOT: This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs, if we all grow to be pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money. (3.5.21)

There follows a convoluted exchange between Lorenzo and Lancelot concerning the preparation of dinner. A few lines later, Act Three ends with this:
LORENZO: First let us go to dinner? JESSICA: Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach? LORENZO: No pray thee, let it serve for table talk, Then how some eer thou speakst, mong other things, I shall digest it? JESSICA: Well, Ill set you forth. (3.5.80)

Set forth has multiple meanings, including to prepare a table and to praise. Table talk was still an uncommon expression in English, although some people may have been familiar with its association with the collected opinions of Martin Luther. The earlier dinner as well as the dinner at Belmont tells us one thing about Jessica: she will eat with Christians with no compunctions at all. Gratiano, Lancelot and Lorenzo each express doubt that she will truly be Christian, but theres no word said by Jessica about the changes she has undertaken.

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Music and Food Together


The invitation to Shylock has been phrased in several ways: dinner, supper, and masque. Theres no doubt there would be food and wine, and also musical entertainment, none of which Shylock wants. Lorenzo makes his intentions clear as he speaks with Gratiano, Solerio and Solanio.
LORENZO: Nay, we will slink away in supper-time, Disguise us at my lodging, and return all in an hour. (2.4.1)

To Lorenzo, the supper is a ruse, a cover. He will soon successfully receive Jessica and the money and jewels she brings from the house of my father[-in-law] Jew (2.6.25). Lorenzo tells his friends, Our masquing mates by this time for us stay [wait] (2.6.59). They intend to return to the dinner with Jessica in disguise as a page. This gives us the comedy of the masquerading Jessica set to attend the masque, but it also has the tragic taste of Shylock being cruelly tricked when Jessica arrives. Of course, we never know if Shylock is at the dinner.

EPILOGUE
Shakespeare was partial to good music and several of his plays incorporate it into the fabric of their plots. It can be found in The Tempest, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and of course in our play. Music appears in different forms, sometimes as songs sung on-stage, heard as if from some mysterious source or talked about. Banquets have their place, too, and sometimes a dire one. There is Macbeth showing signs of insanity, and in Hamlet the bloody dnoument. The dinner that never happens in The Merchant of Venice is not only to be merely a friendly get together, but also another humiliation of Shylock.

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12

READING THE PLAY US AND THEM

The Christians in this play speak a language that separates them from the Jew, Shylock. Jessica, received although not quite accepted at Belmont, finds that language is an invisible but very real barrier. This amounts to more than just the sharing of words, like devil. It extends to the speech of the powerful, bluntly typified by Gratiano. He has little power himself but he speaks for the crowd that might at any time act without restraint to disrupt domestic peace and order. This prospect was a continual concern to Elizabeth and her Privy Council. Anti-alien riots and threats did occur in London several times in the last two decades of the century.

JUST BETWEEN US
Venice is a dukedom and there is no appeal from the Dukes court. The Duke has the responsibility of preserving order and administers the law with care. That doesnt mean that he has no feelings of brotherhood with Antonio or impatience with Shylock. At the start of the courtroom scene the Duke and the merchant speak to one another.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee, thou art come to answer A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, Uncapable of pity, void, and empty From any dram of mercy. ANTONIO: I have heard Your Grace hath taen great pains to qualify His rigorous course : but since he stands obdurate, And that no lawful means can carry me Out of his envys reach, I do oppose My patience to his fury, and am armd To suffer with a quietness of spirit, The very tyranny and rage of his. (4.1.3)

They use the exclusionary language of the majority. It is full of the words, phrases and constructs that can be heard or read today to characterize

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whoever or whatever might be considered the enemy. Portia, in her beautiful mercy speech, participates in this use of language although in an indirect way. Her oration seems to be directed to Shylock, but why would she expect the Jewish money-lender to respond to her talk about thrond majesty? He will always be an alien, and will always worry about the arbitrary application of power by the autocrat from above and by the people from below. Might her speech instead be directed to the Duke, establishing a bond with him as she acknowledges his power to act and to forgive? The Duke proceeds to final judgment, making it clear that while the law will be enforced he has quite a bit of room to be the autocrat. Portia and he are by now in complete agreement as she tells Shylock, And the offenders life lies in the mercy / Of the Duke only, gainst all other voice (4.1.351). This is followed by her endorsement of the power wielded by the majority citizens, Down therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke. The Duke grants Shylock some relief,
DUKE: That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit, I pardon thou thy life before thou ask it : For half thy wealth, it is Antonios, The other half comes to the general state, Which humbleness may drive unto a fine. (4.1.364)

Antonio then ameliorates the financial terms but adds that Shylock shall convert. At this, the Duke interjects his clearest statement of his power to interpret the law as he would: He shall do this, or else I do recant / The pardon that I late pronouncd here (4.1.387). The pardon was from execution. Shakespeares lesson in the power of rhetoric depends on how these speeches are delivered. If you were the director, how would you instruct your actors?

SHYLOCKS WORDS
One way to look upon this play is to see Shylock as a person well aware of the fragile position he and his fellow Jews are in. There are two places in Act One Scene Three where this is evident.
SHYLOCK: . . . but ships are but boards, sailors but men, there be land rats, and water rats, water thieves and land thieves, I mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks. (1.3.19) SHYLOCK: And thrift is blessing if men steal it not. (1.3.85)

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In both of these selections, Shylock is concerned with his possessions being stolen. By land rats he may as much mean robbers and thieves as expropriation by the state. The Jews in Venice survive under the laws of the city, and the laws can be changed at any time if it is in the interests of the city to do so. Shylocks unremitting insistence on the law can be seen as part of an attempt to strengthen the bonds of Venices law and the safety of the Jews. Shakespeare has arranged the courtroom scene so that Shylocks sarcastic remarks about slavery that begin What judgement shall I dread, doing no wrong? (4.1.89), take place before Portia arrives. His speech, and Portias on mercy, have a good amount in common. They both present a moral choice that involves consequences to someone who is at a disadvantage due to the law. Is this any more, or less, than the choice in the Sermon on the Mount: Therefore whatsoever ye wolde that men shulde do to you, even so do ye to them (Matt. 7:12)? This is reflected later in Shylocks A Daniel come to judgment : yea a Daniel / O wise young judge how do I honor thee (4.1.219). Daniel saved the friendless Susanna from the lies of the powerful. The play continues, though, with Gratiano twice taunting the defeated Shylock. A second Daniel, a Daniel Jew and A Daniel still I say, a second Daniel. Shylocks speech is ignored while Portias is the centerpiece of the scene. We can see in the actions of the characters why Matthews simple precept is so difficult to follow.

WHERE IS JESSICA?
Is Jessica part of the Christian world or the Jewish world? She would prefer it to be the former, but will that ever happen? As Lorenzo prepares to meet her so that they can elope, he says,
LORENZO: I must needs tell thee all, she hath directed How I shall take her from her fathers house, What gold and jewels she is furnished with, What pages suit she has in readiness : If eer a Jew her father come to heaven, It will be for his gentle daughters sake ; And never dare misfortune cross her foot, Unless she do it under this excuse, That she is issue to a faithless Jew (2.4.29)

When she is throwing Shylocks money to Lorenzo to begin their flight there is an exchange between Gratiano and Lorenzo.
GRATIANO: Now, by my hood, a gentle, and no Jew. LORENZO: Beshrew me but I love her heartily, For she is wise, if I can judge of her, And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,

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And true she is, as she hath provd her self : And therefore like herself, wise, fair, and true, Shall she be placd in my constant soul. (2.6.51)

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Gratiano, bawdy as usual, first speaks of his uncircumcised state. He then echoes Lorenzo with his use of gentle. Gentle has a number of meanings. As high-born or noble it is doubly sardonic because Shylock would never be either in that Christian world. As tender it fits Lorenzos sentiment. In Gratianos mouth it is a stand-in for Gentile. Lorenzo proclaims his love for Jessica he has already said I will not fail her (2.4.20) and elevates her actions to wise and true. Is the implication here that because she carried out these acts against a Jew, they were justified? Were they justified because she chose to convert and marry him? We next meet Jessica in the very busy Act Three Scene Two when she, Lorenzo and Salerio arrive at Belmont. The first to recognize them is Gratiano, who says, But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? (3.2.217). Gratiano is not about to let up on Jessica although he is polite enough to instruct Nerissa, cheer yond stranger, bid her welcome. The word stranger was used to identify an alien, a person who was not a citizen. Jessica is welcome, but not as a full member of the group. Jessica does her best to be accepted. In Act 3 Scene 5 she responds to Lorenzos question, How dost thou like the Lord Bassanios wife? (3.5.66). This may give a little lesson in Christian theology, or it may not.
JESSICA: ... it is very meet The Lord Bassanio live an upright life For, having such a blessing in his lady, He finds the joys of heaven here on earth, And if on earth he do not mean it, In reason he should never come to heaven. (3.5.68)

There is a lack of clarity in Quarto and Folio so that the next-to-last sentence may contain meane it (modernized to mean it) or merit it or even something else. If the text is taken to read meane it, then it could could be using the verb to mean. Or it could be a rather less common form of describing the sensible behavior of avoiding excess. It does seem to read more easily with merit, but theres no absolute right or wrong choice. The lesson here is that if you want to do word by word analysis, you had better look at the notes in the Arden Shakespeare or other well-edited editions of the play. It may be that in the three or so months since their elopement Jessica has received good instruction in her new religion. Is she now fully accepted by the friends at Belmont? That does not appear to be so, as expressed in this further remark by Lorenzo.

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LORENZO: In such a night Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, And with an unthrift love did run from Venice, As far as Belmont. (5.1.14)

Steal is an instance of Shakespeare using a homonym for good effect as it means both to run away and to rob. Does Lorenzo love her but continue to think of her as an outsider?

CLOWN AT WORK
Lancelot has no need for the subtle or complex. He can talk to Jessica in words she might hear if she walked on the city streets or the Rialto.
LANCELOT: . . . most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew, if a Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. (2.3.10) LANCELOT: Yes truly ; for look you, the sins of the father are to be laid on the children, therefore I promise you, I fear you, I was always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter : therefore be of good cheer, for truly I think you are damnd, there is but one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is but a kind of bastard hope neither. JESSICA: And what hope is that, I pray thee? LANCELOT: Marry you may partly hope that your father got you not, that you are not the Jews daughter. JESSICA: That were a kind of bastard hope indeed, so the sins of my mother should be visited on me. LANCELOT: Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and mother : thus when I shun Scylla your father, I fall into Charybdis your mother ; well, you are gone both ways. JESSICA: I shall be saved by my husband, he hath made me a Christian. (3.5.1)

His message is no different from that of Gratiano although it is delivered in a more caring way.

HERE COMES THE DEVIL


Salerio and Solanio enjoy their roles as lackeys, not least when they get the opportunity to indulge in a bit of gutter language. Their favorite word of scorn may be devil.

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SOLANIO: Let me say amen betimes, lest the devil cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness of a Jew. (3.1.19) SHYLOCK: She is damnd for it. SALERIO: Thats certain, if the devil may be her judge. (3.1.29) SOLANIO: Here comes another of the tribe, a third cannot be matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew. (3.1.70)

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They find themselves empowered by their ability to speak however they want without being put in any jeopardy. While the Duke and Antonio use more cultivated language, the end of identification with the powerful is accomplished by high and low.

ALL OF HIS COMPLEXION


Prejudice is displayed not only against Jews, but also at dark-skinned people. Morocco, the gift to all women suitor enters aware of the disadvantage his color presents. Mislike me not for my complexion (2.1.1), he says. Portia politely replies, Your self (renowned prince) then stood as fair / As any commer I have looked on yet (2.1.20). Polite because when he leaves she says, A gentle riddance : draw the curtains, go : / Let all of his complexion choose me so (2.7.78). His religion, whatever it is, does not enter the picture. On the other hand, Moroccos line might be evocative, in a comedic way, of the Bibles Song of Solomon: I am black, O daughters of Jerusalem, but comely (1:4) and Regard ye me not because I am black: for the sun hath looked upon me (1:5). Portia handles Morocco and Aragon differently. She warns Morocco that, if you choose wrong, / Never to speak to lady afterward / In way of marriage (2.1.40). Aragon gets off a bit easier, although not without being singed. Opening the silver casket he finds the portrait of a blinking idiot and the note, Take what wife you will to bed, / I will ever be your head (2.9.70). Does marriage mean nothing to the Moor? Will his oath be no obstacle to his pleasure? Is he of the same moral stature as a Christian (if he does follow Islam)? Not that Aragon is treated all that nicely. Will he tolerate quite well the private knowledge of himself as a fool? Bassanio, too, takes part in some unpleasantry with regard to dark skinned people. In the midst of his ruminations over the choice of the casket he says, Thus ornament is but the guiled shore / To a most dangerous sea : the beauteous scarf / Veiling an Indian beauty (3.2.97). He and Portia do think alike.

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EPILOGUE
The characters in this play refuse to be simple and flat and instead have their good aspects and bad. The setting is in far away Venice where the antipathy is between Christians and Jews. The sixteenth century, though, was a time of violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants, hardly invisible to Shakespeares original audiences. In what ways does this resemble the present? In what ways are the people in the play the people of today? Who are the ins and outs today? What encounters do we have as us and them daily? How do our words and actions resemble those in this four hundred year old play?

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Part III INTERLUDES


6:19 Lay not up treasures for your selves upon the earth, where the moth & canker corrupt, & where thieves dig through, and steal. 6:20 But lay up treasures for your selves in heaven, where neither the moth nor canker corrupteth , and where thieves nether dig through, nor steal. 6:21 For where your treasure is , there will your heart be also. The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to Matthew, from the Geneva Bible, 1560

Yea, ther be som that have solemply vowed never to be of that religion that smelleth of povertye : they had rather be riche with Alexander, than poore with Christ. A horrible kind of speache : fyrst money, say they, and then honestie will follow of course : for what is wisedome, learnynge or honestie? It is money (man) say they, that makes a man to be taken for wise, honest, valiant, mightie, yea, and for a kinges fellowe too. Dr. Thomas Wilson, A Discourse upon Usury, 1572

If a man has his eyes bound, you can encourage him as much as you like to stare through the blindfold, but hell never see anything. Hell be able to see only when the blindfold is removed. Its help Barnabas needs, not encouragement. Franz Kafka, The Castle, The Fifteenth Chapter, 1926

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13
INTERLUDE THE SOUND OF ELIZABETHAN PROSE AND THE SENSE OF ELIZABETHS PROSE

PORTIA: O me, the word choose.

(1.2.22)
Elizabethan prose can be quite pleasing to the modern ear. We are, indeed, the beneficiaries of the sixteenth century, when the English language was far from stable. Everything about it was up for someone like Shakespeare to experiment with: spelling, pronunciation, grammar, words themselves. We might read literature of that time and think in terms of misspellings, corrupted grammar, and awkward rhymes. Elizabethans would have seen or heard these as the natural sounds of the time. While the Queen herself contributed hardly more than her name to the language of the period, she did have a good education and had achieved a language style that was firm and clear before her ascendancy to the crown. 6 What follows below are transcriptions or at least best efforts of two of her speeches. It is not only in the style that we can find interest, but also in the content. The first, in 1559, is in response to her first Parliaments message, the principall matter wherof most speciallie was to mooue her grace to marriage. This rendition is an intriguing example of her royal determination and is also very nice rhythmic prose. The matter of her marriage was of substantial concern to the nobility, the gentry, and to the people. Stability was the issue, and her choice of husband and the resulting issue of an heir were the foundation of an orderly transfer of power. Portias dilemma is easily seen (not to equate that with truth) as a reflection of Elizabeths.
PORTIA: O me, the word choose, I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. (1.2.22)
6 Queen Elizabeth's learning was highly praised by Roger Ascham in The Scholemaster, 1570.

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The effort to be faithful to the Queen's words is seen in the transcribers note, The quenes majesty after a little pause made this answer following, as nere as I could beare the same awaie (saith Grafton). While what we read are the words and grammatical constructions of Grafton we can hope that he achieved his goal. The text here is from Holinsheds history, which was widely available in the later years of the century. 7 I have modernized some spelling and added paragraph breaks but made no other changes.

THE QUEENS SPEECH TRANSCRIBED AS NEAR AS COULD BE BORNE AWAY


As I have good cause, so do I give to you my hearty thanks for the good zeal and care that you seem to have as well toward me, as to the whole state of your country. Your petition I gather to be grounded on three causes, and mine answer to the same shall consist of two parts. And for the first I say unto you, that from my years of understanding, knowing myself a servitor of almighty God, I chose this kind of life, in which I do yet live, as a life most acceptable unto him, wherein I thought I could best serve him, and with most quietness do my duty unto him. From which my choice, if either ambition of high estate offered unto me by marriages (whereof I have records in this presence) the displeasure of the prince, the eschewing the danger of mine enemies, or the avoiding the peril of death (whose messenger the princes indignation was no little time continually present before mine eyes, by whose means if I knew or do justly suspect, I will not now utter them, or if the whole cause were my sister herself, I will not now charge the dead) could have drawn or dissuaded me, I had not now remained in this virgins estate wherein you see me. But so constant have I always continued in this my determination (that although my words and youth may seem to some hardly to agree together) yet it is true, that to this day I stand free from any other meaning, that either I have had in times past, or have at this present. In which state and trade of living wherewith I am so thoroughly acquainted, God hath so hitherto preserved me, and hath so watchful an eye upon me, he will not suffer me to go alone. The manner of your petition I do like, and take in good part : for it is simple, and contains no limitation of place or person. If it had been otherwise, I must have misliked it very much, and thought in you a very great presumption, being unfit and altogether unmeet to require them that may command, or those appoint whose parts are to desire, or such to bind and limit whose duties are to obey ; or to take upon you to draw my love to your likings, or to frame my will to your fancies. A guerdon [reward] constrained, and a gift freely given can never agree.
7 Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland in Six Volumes, Vol. IV (London 1808).

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Nevertheless, if any of you be in suspect, that whensoever it may please God to incline my heart to that kind of life, my meaning is to do or determine any thing wherewith the realm may have just cause to be discontented ; put that out of your heads. For I assure you (what credence my assurance may have with you I can not tell, but what credit it shall deserve to have, the sequel shall declare) I will never in that matter conclude any thing that shall be prejudicial unto the realm. For the weale and good safety whereof, as a good mother of my country, I will never shun to spend my life. And whomsoever my choice may light upon, he shall be as careful for the preservation of the realm as you, I will not say as my self : for I cannot so certainly promise of another, as I do surely know of my self, but as any other can be. And albeit it doth please almighty God to continue me still in this mind, to live out the state of marriage : it is not to be feared, but he will so work in my heart, and in your wisdoms, that as good provision may be made in convenient time, whereby the realm shall not remain destitute of an heir that may be a fit governor, and peradventure more beneficial to the realm than such offspring as may come of me. For though I be never so careful for your well doings, and mind ever so to be : yet may mine issue grow out of kind and become ungracious. And for me it shall be sufficient, that a marble stone declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin. To make an end, I take your coming to me in good part, and give unto you eftsoons [once again] my hearty thanks, more yet for your zeal, good will, and good meaning, than for your message and petition.

THE DEATH OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS


The second example of Elizabeths prose is another best-effort transcription of a speech, also reported in Holinshed. This was delivered in November 1586 (the twenty-eighth year of her reign) in response to Parliaments petition to bring to a stop Mary Queen of Scots dangerous plotting. Once again, I have only made spelling changes for readability. Elizabeths phrase, I have found treason in trust, speaks of her isolation as a ruler. Portia and Bassanio play with this and perhaps there is something more than mere whimsy in what they say.
BASSANIO: Let me choose, For as I am , I live upon the rack. PORTIA: Upon the rack Bassanio, then confess What treason there is mingled with your love. BASSANIO: None but that ugly treason of mistrust, Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love : There may as well be amity and life, Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love. (3.2.24)

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A REPORT OF HER MAJESTIES most gracious answer, delivered by her self verbally, to the first petitions of the lords and commons, being the estates of parlement, in her chamber of presence at Richmond, the twelfth day of November 1586, at the full almost of eight and twenty years of her reign. Whereof the reporter requires of all that were hearers, a favorable interpretation of his intent, because he finds that he can not express the same answerable to the original, which the learned call Prototypon. The bottomless graces and immeasurable benefits bestowed upon me by the almighty, are, and have been such, as I must not only acknowledge them, but admire them, accounting them as well miracles as benefits ; not so much in respect of his divine majesty, with whom nothing is more common than to do things rare and singular : as in regard of our weakness, who can not sufficiently set forth his wonderful works and graces, which to me have been so many, so diversely folded and embroidered one upon another, as in no sort I am able to express them. And although there lives not any, that may more justly acknowledge themselves infinitely bound unto God than I, whose life he hath miraculously preserved at sundry times (beyond my merit) from a multitude of perils & dangers : yet is not that the cause, for which I count my self the deepest bound to give him my humblest thanks, or to yield him greatest recognition ; but this which I shall tell you hereafter, which will deserve the name of wonder, if rare things and seldom seen be worthy of account. Even this it is, that as I came to the crown with the willing hearts of my subjects, so do I now after eight and twenty years reign, perceive in you no diminution of good wills, which if happily I should want, well might I breath, but never think I lived. And now, albeit I find my life hath been full dangerously sought, and death contrived by such as no desert procured: yet am I therein so clear from malice (which hath the property to make men glad at the falls and faults of their foes, and make them seem to do for other causes, when rancor is the ground) as I protest it is and hath been my grievous thought, that one, not different in sex, of like estate, and my near kin, should fall into so great a crime: yea I had so little purpose to pursue her with any colour of malice, that as it is not unknown to some of my lords here (for now I will play the blab) I secretly wrote her a letter upon the discovery of sundry treasons, that if she would confess them, and privately acknowledge them by her letters to my self, she never should need be called for them into so public question. Neither did I it of mind to circumvent her : for then I knew as much as she could confess, and so did I write. And if even yet, now that the matter is made but too apparent, I thought she truly would repent (as perhaps she would easily appear in outward shew to do) and that for her, none other would take the matter upon them ; or that we were but as two milk maids with pails upon our arms, or that there were no more dependency upon us but mine own life were only in danger, and not the whole estate of your religion and well doings, I protest (wherein you may believe me, for though I may

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have many vices, I hope I have not accustomed my tongue to be an instrument of untruth) I would most willingly pardon and remit this offense. Or if by my death other nations and kingdoms might truly say, that this realm had attained an ever prosperous and flourishing estate : I would (I assure you) not desire to live ; but gladly give my life, to the end my death might procure you a better prince. And for your sakes it is, that I desire to live, to keep you from a worse. For as for me, I assure you, I find no great cause I should be fond to live: I take no such pleasure in it, that I should much wish it ; nor conceive such terror in death, that I should greatly fear it ; and yet I say not, but if the stroke were coming, perchance flesh and blood would be moved with it, and seek to shun it. I have had good experience and trial of this world : I know what it is to be a subject ; what to be a sovereign ; what to have good neighbors, and sometime meet evil willers. I have found treason in trust, [emphasis ed.] seen great benefits little regarded, and in stead of gratefulness, courses of purpose to cross. These former remembrances, present feeling, and future expectation of evils (I say) have made me think, an evil is much the better, the less while it endures : so, them happiest, that are soonest hence : and taught me to bear with a better mind their treasons, than is common to my sex : yea, with a better heart perhaps, than is in some men. Which I hope you will not merely impute to my simplicity or want of understanding, but rather, that I thus conceived, that had their purposes taken effect, I should not have found the blow, before I had felt it : and though my peril should have been great, my pain should have been but small and short : wherein, as I would be loath to die so bloody a death, so doubt I not, but God would have given me grace to be prepared for such an event, chance when it shall, which I refer unto his good pleasure. And now, as touching their treasons and conspiracies, together with the contriver of them. I will not so prejudicate my self and this my realm, as to say or think, that I might not, without the last statute, by the ancient laws of this land, have proceeded against her, which was not made particularly to prejudice her ; though perhaps it might then be suspected, in respect of the disposition of such as depend that way. It was so far from being intended to entrap her, that it was rather an admonition to warn the danger thereof : but since it is made, and in the force of a law, I thought good, in that which might concern her, to proceed according thereunto, rather than by course of common law : wherein, if you the judges have not deceived me, or that the books you brought me were not false (which God forbid) I might as justly have tried her by the ancient laws of the land. But you lawyers are so nice in sifting, scanning every word and letter, that many times you stand more upon form than matter, upon syllables than sense of the law. For in the strictness and exact following of common form, she must have been indicted in Staffordshire, have holden up her hand at the bar, and been tried by a jury : a proper course for sooth, to deal in that manner with one of her estate. I thought it better therefore, for avoiding of these and

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more absurdities, to commit the cause to the inquisition of a good number of the greatest and most noble personages of this realm, of the judges and others of good account, whose sentence I must approve : and all little enough. For we princes, I tell you, are set on stages, in the sight and view of all the world duly observed ; the eyes of many behold our actions ; a spot is soon spied in our garments ; a blemish quickly noted in our doings. It behooves us therefore to be careful that our proceedings be just and honorable. But I must tell you one thing more, that in this last act of parlement you have brought me unto a narrow straight, that I must give direction for her death, which cannot be to me but a most grievous and irksome burden. And least you might mistake mine absence from this parlement (which I had almost forgotten) although there be no cause why I should willingly come amongst multitudes, for that amongst many some may be evil : yet hath it not been the doubt of any such danger or occasion that kept me from thence ; but only the great grief to hear this cause spoken of ; especially, that such a one of state and kin should need so open a declaration, and that this nation should be so spotted with blots of disloyalty. Wherein the less is my grief for that I hope the better part is mine, and those of the worse not so much to be accounted of, for that in seeking my destruction, they might have spoiled their own souls. And even now could I tell you, that which would make you sorry. It is a secret, and yet I will tell it you ; although it is known I have the property to keep counsel, but too well often-times to my own peril. It is not long since my eyes did see it written, that an oath was taken within few days, either to kill me, or to be hanged themselves : and that to be performed yet one month were ended. Hereby I see your danger in me, and neither can nor will be so unthankful or careless of your consciences, as not provide for your safety. I am not unmindful of your oath made in the association, manifesting your great good wills and affections, taken and entered into, upon good conscience, and true knowledge of the guilt, for safety of my person, and conservation of my life : done (I protest to God) before I heard it, or ever thought of such a matter, until a great number of hands with many obligations were showed me, at Hampton court, signed and subscribed with the names and seals of the greatest of this land. Which as I do acknowledge as a perfect argument of your true hearts, and great zeal to my safety : so shall my bond be stronger tied to greater care for all your good. But for as much as this matter is rare, weighty, and of great consequence, I think you do not look for any present resolution : the rather, for that, as it is not my manner, in matters of far less moment, to give speedy answer without due consideration ; so in this of such importance, I think it very requisite with earnest prayer to beseech his divine majesty, so to illuminate my understanding, and inspire me with his grace, as I may do and determine that, which shall serve to the establishment of his church, preservation of your estates, and prosperity of this common wealth under my charge. Wherein (for

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that I know delay is dangerous) you shall have with all convenience our resolution delivered by our message. And what ever any prince may merit of their subjects, for their approved testimony of their unfained sincerity, either by governing justly, void of all partiality, or sufferance of any injuries done (even to the poorest) that do I assuredly promise inviolably to perform, for requital of your so many deserts.

EPILOGUE
I am not making any claim that Shakespeare was influenced by these speeches in his creation of Portia. The real Elizabeth may have wanted to marry and produce an heir, but she was quite prepared to rule alone. Shakespeares Portia needed a husband emotionally and also in order to take her place in society. The Queen was careful about spending the states money (cheap, one might say), while Portia was free with the fortune she had inherited from her father. However, there are similarities. Their language leaves no doubt who is in charge. Both were subject to the expectations of society that they be married. Neither could fully trust those who were closest to them. Fortunately, Elizabeth had her loyal advisor Lord Burleigh, and Portia her Nerissa.

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14
INTERLUDE OTHER VOICES ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS OF USURY AND JEWS

Both Marlowe and Shakespeare wrote plays that took advantage of the historical fact of the ill feelings of the English people for Jews. There was also a confused, widespread and outspoken dislike of usury. Conflating these gave the playwrights sure winners: humor on the surface, and irony for those in the audience who would see beyond the obvious. Shakespeare may have been challenged by the deceased but still popular Marlowe to improve upon the Jew of Maltas frenetic Barabas and add new dimensions to his daughter Abigail. Whether or not that was true, there was an event in 1594 after Marlowes death that made a play about an unlikeable Jew a box office draw. Briefly, Roderigo Lopez, a Jewish physician to the Queen, may or may not have been involved in what may or may not have been a plot to poison her. The presumed plot was discovered (or manufactured) in 1593 and after imprisonment and torture Lopez was executed for high treason in June 1594. The final moments of Lopez were well known, as he made the oft reported statement that he loved the Queen as much as he loved Jesus Christ. This evidently evoked considerable laughter from the audience at his public hanging and quartering. Now turn the calendar back about fifteen years. We will look at two examples, one a narrative and the other a drama, where the themes of usury and Jews are treated without the vitriol that we find in Marlowe and Shakespeare.

ZELAUTO BY ANTHONY MUNDAY


Anthony Mundays Zelauto The Fountaine of Fame is an early instance of the English novel. It is in a style called euphuistic, full of alliteration, allusion and embellishment, which deservedly fell out of favor in about a decade. This novel has nothing much to recommend it except that Munday was part of the London scene, his book engages the subject of usury, and it was published in 1580 and likely known to Shakespeare. Munday had been to Italy, the source of many of the stories that English

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authors and playwrights used. Upon his return he wrote Zelauto, set in Venice. In the Thyrd part Cap. 5 Munday introduces Signore Truculento, a usurer of Verona and a Christian. Truculento shows himself to be a miser and a manipulator as he tries to get for himself a certain Cornelia as wife. Her father is in favor of this match, moved by the prospect of Truculentos fortune, but Cornelia tries to change his mind. She says, Wyll you for money marrie me to a myser? . . . Shall I for lyttle vaine glorie, forsake vertue? and other such appeals. She contrives with her brother, Rodolpho, to trick Truculento. Their means involves a loan by Truculento to a friend, Strabino. The initial statement of the bond will be to forfayte his patrimony, and besydes the best lym of his body. Truculento, true to his miserly role, broadens this to both Rodolpho and Strabino pledging theyr Landes [and] theyr right eyes. Failing to pay back the loan (part of the trap but too complicated to go into here), all the parties end up in court. Truculento forgives their bonded land but insists on their eyes. The judge tries to elicit a fair and harmless resolution. In the course of this, Strabino has some great lines where he attacks Truculento:
my freend and I came vnto this Caterpyller, (so rightly may I call him, neyther defacing his lycentious lyuing, condempning his practised science, and cunning handy craft, nor yet inuaying against any of his honest behauiour; but commending his cut throate conditions, in pinching the poore, to fyl vp his own poutch.)

Rodolpho and Strabino offer to pay the money, but the deadline being passed Truculento makes a statement to the judge:
he that before my face will vse such terrible tauntes, behinde my backe, would gladly brew my bane, he that in my presence will so spightfully reprooue me: in my absence would hang me if it were in his possibilitie. Dooth he demerit fauour: that so frowneth on his freend? Can he clayme any courtesie: that abuseth him selfe so disorderly? Or can he once pleade for pittie that standesth in so great a presumption? Or you my Lord, desire me deale gently: with one who respecteth not gentillitie? No, the money is none of mine, ne will I haue it, his Landes I respect not, ne will I accept of it. . . . I will haue the due which breach of promise dooth deserue, I will exempt all courtesie: and accoumpt of cruelty, I wyll be pleased with no ritch reward whatsoeuer, no pitty shall preuayle, rigor shall rule, and on them bothe I will haue Law to the vttermost.

This goes on for quite some time. The words and the sense of meanness are similar to those in our play, and also in Marlowes Jew of Malta. Mundays plot even includes Truculentos daughter marrying Rodolpho, matched by Shakespeares pairing of Jessica and Lorenzo. In the culmination

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receyue the raunsome you so much require, and take bothe their eyes, so shall the matter be ended. But thus much (under verdict of my Lord his lycence) I giue you in charge, and also especially notifie, that no man but your selfe shall execute the deede, ne shall you craue any counsayle of any of the standers by. If in pulling foorth their eyes, you diminishe the least quantitie of blood out of their heads, ouer and besides their only eyes, or spyll one drop on taking them out: before you styrre your foote, you shall stand to the losse of bothe your owne eyes. For that the bande maketh mention of nothing but their eyes, and so if you take more then you should, and lesse then you ought: you shall abide the puishment heere in place pronounced.

Truculento, undone, asks the judge if he could at least have his money returned to him. Just as in our play, the request is denied.
[JUDGE]: since you would not accept of it when it was offered, nor would be contented with so large a promise: the money shall serue to make them amendes, for the great wrong which you would haue offered. Thus in my opinion is Iudgement equally vsed, and neyther partie I hope will be miscontented.

The Merchant of Venice courtroom scene is strikingly similar. Not to say that Shakespeare or Marlowe necessarily borrowed from Munday. The Italian sources Munday used were widely known amongst the English. The point here is that Mundays usurer is Christian.

THE THREE LADIES OF LONDON


The Three Ladies of London was produced around 1581 and printed in 1584. Its authorship remains a bit of a mystery, but it may have been a person named Robert Wilson. In regards to style, it lays between the old fashioned Morality Plays and the soon to be written works of playwrights like Marlowe and Shakespeare. In the old style, it contains allegorical characters with names like Fraud, Symonie, Userie, Conscience, Love and Simplicitie. The three ladies are Lucre, Love and Conscience. Unlike its predecessors where all the characters were more or less allegorical, the play actually has some individuals with personalities. Considering that the play was written shortly after Mundays novel Zelauto was printed, there may have been enough public interest in the subject of usury that the two authors saw an opportunity to make some money by addressing it. As evidence of this interest there was a royal proclamation issued by Elizabeths government on 19 May 1581, reviving Mary Is about-to-expire statute against usury.

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This play is worth reading just to see Wilsons insightful and unforgiving sarcasm aimed at the practices of merchants and at the vast sums of money sent to the Pope during Mary Is reign. He also takes digs at other examples of public and private morals. It is a good example of how the stage was made ready for the new playwrights to address human fallibilities with their much more realistic characters. What is of interest to us is Wilsons treatment of usury and Jews. He explains the former understandably and treats the latter compassionately. Amongst all the sermons against usury, and the opposing pragmatism of governments and merchants, it is refreshing to see a playwright engage a definition with deftness and feeling. Wilson handles this in two speeches. In one, the fool of the play, aptly named Simplicitie, speaks about the impact of usury on common folk. He does not debate biblical sources nor threaten the usurer with damnation, rather he expresses a sorrow and frustration that people feel regardless of the century whenever entrapped by unfair debt. Here is Wilsons statement of the dilemma created by the difference between what is given and what is wrested away.
SIMPLICITIE: O, that vilde Usery ! he lent my father a little mony, and for breaking one day He tooke the fee-simple of his house and mill quite away : And yet he borrowed not halfe a quarter as much as it cost ; But, I thinke, if it had been a shilling it had bene lost. So he kild my father with sorrow, and undoed me quite. And you deale with him, sirs, you shall finde him a knaue full of spight.

Conscience also has a speech on usury.


Thus am I driuen to make a vertue of necessitie; And, seing God almightie will haue it so, I imbrace it thankfully, Desiring God to mollefie and lesten Useries hard heart, That the poore people feele not the like penurie and smart. But Userie is made tollerable amongst Christians, as a necessary thing, So that, going beyond the limites of our law, they extorte, and many to miserie bring. But if we should follow Gods law, we should not receaue aboue that wee lend ; For if we lend for reward, how can we say we are our neighbors frend? O! how blessed shall that man be, that lendes without abuse, But thrice accursed shall he be, that greatly couets vse ; For he that couets ouer much insaciate is his minde, So that to perjurie and crueltie he holy is inclinde : Wherewith they sore oppresse the poore by diuers sundry wayes, Whiche makes them cry vnto the Lord to shorten cutthroates

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dayes. Paule calleth them theeues that doth not giue the needie of their store, And thrise accurst are they that take one penny from the poore. But while I stand reasoning thus, I forget my market cleane ; And sith God hath ordained this way, I am to vse the meane.

Wilson is straight to the point in both these speeches, although in Consciences he includes the standard theological arguments. Wilson distinguishes usury from the lending of money in practical terms with Christian caritas at the core. But the charge is against Christians, not Jews. Not entirely consistent with that (although not surprisingly), Userie seems to be of partly Jewish parentage. There is a conversation reminding us of the reputation of Venice but not letting England seem better by comparison.
LUCAR: But, Usery, didst thou neuer knowe my graundmother, the olde Lady Lucar of Venice? USURIE: Yes, Madam; I was seruaunt unto her, and liued there in blisse. LUCAR: But why camest thou into England, seeing Venise is a Cittie Where Usery by Lucar may liue in great glory. USERY: I haue often heard your good graundmother tell, That she had in England a daughter, which farre did excell; And that England was suche a place for Lucar to bide, As was not in Europe and the whole world beside. . . .

Wilson continues, having a Jewish money-lender, Gerontus, make a loan to an Italian Christian merchant, Mercadorus. The Christian is a knave proud of his perfidy, and has set out to coossen Gerontus. Even in the face of Mercadorus unreliability, Gerontus extends him more time.
So, when the time came that I should have receaued my money, You were not to be found, but was fled out of the countrey. Surely, if we that be Jewes should deale so one with an other, We should not be trusted againe of our owne brother ; But many of you Christians make no conscience to falsifie your fayth, and breake your day. I should haue bene paide at three monthes end, and now it is two yeare you haue bene away.

Later, there is a courtroom scene (somehow were in Turkey where Mercadorus has been sent to buy baubles to sell to the foolish English ladies) that seems to have been canonical in the plays and novels concerning usury. Mercadorus lies to the judge that he will convert to Islam. Gerontus, following the customs of the country, forgives the debt. Mercadorus then

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reneges on his promise and laughs at Gerontus. But Gerontus responds without rancor and with good advice.
Much good may it do you, sir ; I repent it not for my part. But yet I would not have this bolden you to seme an other so : Seeke to pay, and keepe day with men, so a good name on you wil go.

Wilson makes his points concerning usury without the need to invoke any Jew, despised or not. He goes on to introduce a Jew who even as he is coossened remains a considerate and fair person.

EPILOGUE
We are left with Munday and Wilson, writers who decided that it was not necessary to pander to the age-old English dislike of Jews. This raises the question of Shakespeares motive for pursuing Shylock so relentlessly. Did he see the opportunity to simultaneously produce a box office draw and exercise his irrepressible need to comment on the human condition? Was he led there by Marlowes successful Jew of Malta and the need to one up him? Well never know, but you can speculate.

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15
INTERLUDE SHAKESPEARE PRACTICES REUSE

Shakespeare hardly ever spent much time creating original plots. Almost all of his plays are taken from here or there, from stories or histories. And he reuses his own material. It is a measure of his originality that his plays are so clearly his and unique, regardless of their sources. Here are several plays 8 with relation to The Merchant of Venice.

TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA


Shakespeare had tried out the maiden and her maids advice-giving in one of his earliest plays, Two Gentlemen of Verona. That play was produced perhaps in 1590-1, not so long before The Merchant of Venice. However, in the quickly changing tastes of the theater-going public, and in their maturing author, this was a considerable time. Here are some lines from Act One Scene Two. The maiden Julia engages in discussion of her suitors with her maid Lucetta. The dialogue is remarkably similar to that in the same act and scene in our play.
JULIA: But say, Lucetta, now we are alone, Wouldst thou then counsel me to fall in love? LUCETTA: Ay, madam, so you stumble not unheedfully. JULIA: Of all the fair resort of gentlemen That every day with parle encounter me, In thy opinion which is worthiest love? LUCETTA: Please you repeat their names, Ill show my mind According to my shallow simple skill. JULIA: What thinkst thou of the fair Sir Eglamour? LUCETTA: As of a knight well spoken, neat, and fine; But, were I you, he never should be mine. JULIA: What thinkst thou of the rich Mercatio? LUCETTA: Well of his wealth, but of himself, so so. JULIA: What thinkst thou of the gentle Proteus? LUCETTA: Lord, lord, to see what folly reigns in us!
8 For the most part the text of the plays is from J. Hylton's edition. The line numbers are only suggestive and will surely vary from whatever edition you may use.

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JULIA: How now! What means this passion at his name? LUCETTA: Pardon, dear madam, tis a passing shame That I, unworthy body as I am, Should censure thus on lovely gentlemen. JULIA: Why not on Proteus, as of all the rest? LUCETTA: Then thus: of many good I think him best. JULIA: Your reason? LUCETTA: I have no other but a womans reason; I think him so because I think him so. JULIA: And wouldst thou have me cast my love on him? LUCETTA: Ay, if you thought your love not cast away. Two Gentlemen of Verona 1.2.1

In this same play Shakespeare uses a malapropic comic relief named Lance who resembles our plays Lancelot. Theres also a servant who delivers a love letter, the gift of a ring with many a complication, and a girl who dresses like a boy. These were stock features of Italian stories so it is not surprising to find them. There is another similarity. Valentine, one of the two gentlemen, along with his servant, Speed, call to Valentines erstwhile sweetheart, Silvia. This resembles our play where Shylock returns home with his servant Lancelot, and they call to Jessica.
The Merchant of Venice SHYLOCK: . . . Why Jessica I say. LANCE.: Why Jessica. SHYLOCK: Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call. LANCE.: Your worship was wont to tell me I could do nothing without bidding. (2.5.6) Two Gentlemen of Verona VAL.: . . . Ah, Silvia, Silvia! SPEED: Madam Silvia, Madam Silvia! VAL.: How now, sirrah? SPEED: She is not within hearing, sir. VAL.: Why, sir, who bade you call her? SPEED: Your worship, sir, or else I mistook. VAL.: Well, youll still be too forward. SPEED: And yet I was last chidden for being too slow. 2.1.5

There is yet another place in the Two Gentlemen that resonates with our play, if indirectly. Lance has a comic monologue wherein he is about to leave home for another city. In the midst of it we find this, A Jew would have wept to have seen our parting (Two Gentlemen 2.3.9). The usual gloss on this rather commonplace remark is that Jews show no pity, which is surely a charge made against Shylock. Not done yet, there is in Two Gentlemen a passing reference to the English ideal of female fairness as whiteness. Proteus, plotting his perfidious displacement of his friend Valentine, says And Silvia witness heaven that made her fair / Shows Julia but a swarthy Ethiope (Two Gentlemen 2.6.25). In our play Bassanio muses on the choice of the casket. He says,

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Thus ornament is but the guiled shore / To a most dangerous sea : the beauteous scarf / Veiling an Indian beauty (3.2.97). He evidently has nothing personal against people of color they just couldnt match his ideal. In another passage, improbabilities set aside, a Robin Hood-like band decides that a just-met fellow should be their leader. Is there a hint of the choice of converting to the spiritual realm of Christianity and receiving its blessings, where death is the alternative, presented to Shylock by the Duke?
THIRD OUTLAW: What say'st thou? Wilt thou be of our consort? Say ay, and be the captain of us all. Well do thee homage, and be rul'd by thee. Love thee as our commander and our king. FIRST OUTLAW: But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest. Two Gentlemen of Verona 4.1.60

Here is a snatch from Two Gentlemen. Is there a portent of Portias mercy speech in it? What might the audience have heard, being accustomed to homilies, lengthy sermons on brotherly love, and New Testament parables?
JULIA: . . . why do I pity him? That with his very heart despiseth me? Because he loves her, he despiseth me. Because I love him, I must pity him. Two Gentlemen of Verona 4.4.86

It seems as though Shakespeare may well have used Two Gentlemen as a closet from which to draw items, almost ready to wear, for The Merchant of Venice.

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST


A light-hearted comedy, Love's Labour's Lost is hard to date but probably produced in the late 1590s. In it there is a melancholy overstuffed fellow named Don Adriano de Armado. In Act One Scene Two he speaks to a boy named Moth.
ARM,: Boy, what sign is it when a man of great spirit grows melancholy? BOY: A great sign, sir, that he will look sad. ARM,: Why, sadness is one and the self-same thing, dear imp. BOY: No, no' O Lord, sir, no. ARM.: How canst thou part sadness and melancholy, my tender juvenal? Love's Labour's Lost 1.2.1

A while later there is a fragment whose sound resembles that of phrases

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ARM.; O well-knit Samson! Strong-jointed Samson! I do excel thee in my rapier as much as thou didst me in carrying gates. Love's Labour's Lost 1.2.68

Here are a few lines from The Merchant of Venice that fit that model. They are all spoken by Shylock in the courtroom scene: A Daniel come to judgment ; yea a Daniel! / O wise young judge how I do honor thee! (4.1.219) and O noble judge ! O excellent young man! (4.1.242) There is also a passage that involves a princess and her attending ladies where they review their suitors. While it is generally complimentary it has the sound and structure of Portia and Nerissa discussing the suitors who have come to Belmont. A bit too long to include here, you can find it in Love's Labour's Lost starting around 2.1.36. As a last example of reuse, there is a wonderfully malapropic clown named Costard who, just as Lancelot, is most concerned with his stomach. He is supported by yet another language-mangler, the constable. They form a duo that must have evoked considerable laughter.

RICHARD II
Music was a frequent theme in Shakespeares plays. Lorenzo and Jessica discuss it with one another, Portia uses it to good effect, and Shylock seems to dislike it. Jessica, even after marriage to Lorenzo, free of her father and received in Belmont, continues with her sense of discomfort, saying I am never merry when I hear sweet music (5.1.69). The Tragedy of Richard the Second (1595/6) is a dark play about a ruler who, one might say, would have been better off as a monk. In Act Five, Richard has a monologue that resonates with Jessicas brief remark.
KING RICHARD: How sour sweet music is When time is broke and no proportion kept! So is it in the music of mens lives. And here have I the daintiness of ear To check time broke in a disorderd string; But, for the concord of my state and time, Had not an ear to hear my true time broke. I wasted time, and now doth time waste me; ... This music mads me. Let it sound no more; For though it have holp mad men to their wits, In me it seems it will make wise men mad. Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me! For tis a sign of love; and love to Richard Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world. Richard II 5.5.42

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King Richard is properly worried about his bleak future and his alienation from all about him. Jessica faces something less threatening but still a worrisome existence.

THE SECOND PART OF KING HENRY THE FOURTH


The ever-popular Falstaff and Prince Hal were introduced in The First Part of King Henry the Fourth and thereafter (late 1590s) Shakespeare wrote the sequel, the Second Part. There is one scene that, although outright comedic, resembles the brief Act Three Scene Three, where Shylock meets Antonio and his jailer. The 2 Henry IV scene is developed at great length, much too long to present here, in order to milk its humor. Falstaff owes a money debt to Hostess Quickly, and has also promised her marriage.
CHIEF JUSTICE: [to Falstaff] Prithee, peace. Pay her the debt you owe her, and unpay the villainy you have done her; the one you may do with sterling money, and the other with current repentance. FALSTAFF: My lord, I will not undergo this sneap [snub] without reply. You call honourable boldness impudent sauciness: if a man will make curtsy, and say nothing, he is virtuous. No, my lord, I will not be your suitor: I say to you, I do desire deliverance from these officers, being upon hasty employment in the king's affairs. CHIEF JUSTICE: You speak as having power to do wrong: but answer in the effect of your reputation, and satisfy the poor woman. 2 Henry IV 2.1.103

England was litigious in Tudor times, with millions of suits pursued in its many courts. This predicament common to Falstaff and Antonio would have been familiar to Shakespeare's audiences.

AS YOU LIKE IT
As You Like It (date uncertain but perhaps around 1600) is a lovely play full of humor, music and memorable speeches. For our purpose, Shakespeare revisits the image of the theater, similar to that given by Antonio in Act One Scene One of our play. In this instance, it is in Jaques Seven Ages speech.
JAQUES: All the worlds a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, ... As You Like It 2.7.139

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TWELFTH NIGHT
In Twelfth Night (1601/2) the cross-dressed girl subplot is expanded to get a fuller return on its sexual and comic implications a boy playing a girl dressed like a boy and teasing a lover. The masquerade is taken to an extreme as Viola, though revealed as a girl, remains in costume even as she and Duke Orsino are paired as the play ends. It is in this play that Orsino makes his melancholy entry in Act One Scene One, with beautiful, if lugubrious and ultimately self-satisfying lines.
ORSINO: If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken and so die. Twelfth Night 1.1.1

These are a match for the plaintive Antonio, who, like Orsino, enjoys his self-absorption.
ANTONIO: I hold the world as the world Gratiano, A stage, where every man must play a part, And mine a sad one. (1.1.77)

Antonio and Orsino go in separate directions. Antonio refuses to make any changes in his way of living. He wants Bassanio one way or another and sticks with that position. He despises Shylock, and for that matter, all Jews, and he sticks with that, although masking it with a duplicitous charity. Orsino gives up his vain suit for one woman who has no interest in him and responds to the love for him expressed by another, although his narcissism stays with him. Shakespeare is not content with letting Orsino off so easily, as his wifeto-be remains in her male clothes with all the ambiguities left out in plain sight. This is a play where Shakespeare indulges in blunt sarcasm aimed directly at the Puritans who so much disliked the theater. Gratiano is hardly less blunt in our play. Here is the buffoon Sir Toby Belch giving it to the sanctimonious Malvolio, who is the target of ridicule from almost everyone.
SIR TOBY: Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale? Twelfth Night 2.3.103

This is followed shortly by a conversation between Sir Toby, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and the maid Maria, as they plot to humiliate Malvolio.
SIR TOBY: Possess us, possess us, tell us something of him. MARIA: Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of puritan. SIR ANDREW: O, if I thought that Id beat him like a dog.

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SIR TOBY: What, for being a puritan? Thy exquisite reason, dear knight. SIR ANDREW: I have no exquisite reason fort, but I have reason good enough. MARIA: The devl a puritan that he is, ... Twelfth Night 2.3.124

With one last instance of sarcasm I shall leave well enough alone. Trying to get Sir Andrew to take a manly action, he replies, Ant be any way, it must be for valour, for policy I hate. I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician (Twelfth Night 3.2.24). The Brownists were radical Puritans, so the comparison is telling, especially in the mouth of such a laughable character.

OTHELLO
There is a passage in Othello (1604/5) that, although different in subject, is similar in form to Shylocks Hath not a Jew eyes (3.1.47) speech. Here it is with a few preceding lines to set the context.
DESDEMONA: Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong For the whole world. EMILIA: Why the wrong is but a wrong i the world: and having the world for your labour, tis a wrong in your own world, and you might quickly make it right. DESDEMONA: I do not think there is any such woman. EMILIA: Yes, a dozen; and as many To the vantage as would store the world they played for. But I do think it is their husbands faults If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties, And pour our treasures into foreign laps, Or else break out in peevish jealousies, Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us, Or scant our former having in despite; Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace, Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell And have their palates both for sweet and sour, As husbands have. What is it that they do When they change us for others? Is it sport? I think it is: and doth affection breed it? I think it doth: ist frailty that thus errs? It is so too: and have not we affections, Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? Then let them use us well: else let them know The ills we do, their ills instruct us so. Othello 4.3.76

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The picture Emilia sketches is sexual, showing women as lustful as men. She is more in the way of Nerissa than of Shylock. The logic, though, is similar to Shylocks, leading both to almost the same conclusion. Shylocks anger at his mistreatment propels him further: The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction (3.1.65).

MEASURE FOR MEASURE


In Measure for Measure, produced in 1604, Shakespeare revisits mercy and the interpretation of the law. The setting is Vienna, where the Duke delegates his powers to Angelo, an upstanding citizen. The Duke stays aware of all that happens and controls the outcome by assuming the disguise of a friar. Angelo turns out to be mean-spirited and hypocritical, reminiscent of Malvolio in Twelfth Night.. He eventually gets his comeuppance delivered by the Duke in a satisfyingly comedic fashion. Early in the play the Duke declares that he has allowed the interpretation of the law to interfere with the rule of law. He then shifts the focus from his own responsibility to his right (or power) to judge whomever he wishes.
DUKE: Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope, 'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done When evil deeds have their permissive pass, And not the punishment. ... Lord Angelo is precise, Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses That his blood flows, or that his appetite Is more to bread then stone. Hence shall we see If power change purpose, what our seemers be. Measure for Measure 1.3.35

In Act Two the young novitiate Isabella pleads with Angelo for the life of her brother, who Angelo has sentenced to death.
ISABELLA: . . . Well, believe this: No ceremony that to great ones 'longs, Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace As mercy does . . . Measure for Measure 2.2.60

This dialogue continues,


ISABELLA: Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once; And He that might the vantage best have took

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Found out the remedy. How would you be, If He, which is the top of judgment, should But judge you as you are? O, think on that, And mercy then will breathe within your lips, Like man new made. ANGELO: Be you content, fair maid; It is the law, not I, condemn your brother. Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son, It should be thus with him; he must die tomorrow. Measure for Measure 2.2.75

There was no longer a woman at the head of the state. When Measure for Measure was produced, James I was in his second year of rule. Portia's centrality was replaced with the autocratic ruler, who metes out a justice tempered with mercy. An intrinsic ambiguity persists as it persists in all of Shakespeare's plays: in the final act the Duke proposes marriage to Isabella. Does she accept?

MACBETH
The most exquisite and deservedly famous treatment of life as theater (or theater as life) is in Macbeth (1606?). I will include it here at length because of its power. Macbeth has just been informed of his wifes suicide.
MACBETH: She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Macbeth 5.5.16

This passage soars to a greater height than Antonios I hold the world but as the world Gratiano, / A stage, where every man must play a part, / And mine a sad one (1.1.77). Gratiano is surely justified in responding Fish not with this melancholy bait / For this fool gudgeon, this opinion. Where Antonio is sorry for himself, Macbeth is sorry for the world.

THE TEMPEST
In The Tempest (1611/12) we find a young couple, Miranda and

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Ferdinand, much in love. In Act Three Scene One Miranda pledges herself to Ferdinand.
FERDINAND: Wherefore weep you? MIRANDA: At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer What I desire to give, and much less take What I shall die to want. But this is trifling, And all the more it seeks to hide itself The bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning, And prompt me, plain and holy innocence. I am your wife if you will marry me, If not, Ill die your maid. To be your fellow You may deny me, But Ill be your servant Whether you will or no. The Tempest 3.1.77

Portia takes longer to work out her very similar feelings, but there they are both in the center of the play, in Act Three. This begins at the opening of the scene where she awkwardly says, And yet a maiden hath no tongue, but thought. After Bassanio opens the correct casket she makes her lovely speech that in spirit resembles Mirandas.
PORTIA: You see me Lord Bassanio where I stand, Such as I am ; though for my self alone I would not be ambitious in my wish, To wish myself better, yet for you, I would be trebled twenty times my self, ... Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit Commits itself to yours to be directed, As from her Lord, her Governor, her King. (3.2.149)

Portia has done a quick review of English law and custom regarding marriage. She ends that scene with the gift of a ring to Bassanio, and we see in her a much more mature woman than is the innocent and inexperienced Miranda. The Tempest shows glimpses not only of The Merchant of Venice, but also of King Lear and Othello. There is a speech by Alonso despairing the loss of his son, which he associates with the marriage of his daughter.
ALONSO: You cram these words into mine ears against The stomach of my sense. Would I had never Married my daughter there! For, coming thence, My son is lost; and in my rate, she too, Who is so far from Italy removed I neer again shall see her. O thou mine heir

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Of Naples and of Milan, what strange fish Hath made his meal on thee? The Tempest 2.1.106

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You can make your own judgment, but I think the sound of the words and the emotional intensity of this fathers grief is also found in Shylocks distraught speech upon learning of Jessicas profligate spending. The Tempest, though, turns our play inside out.
SHYLOCK: I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear : would she were hearsd at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin : no news of them, why so? And I know not how much is spent in the search. (3.1.80)

EPILOGUE
Reuse, like borrowing from others, raises the question of where originality lies. There is hardly a creative artist who does not engage in reuse at some time. Bach and Mozart repeated themselves; nevertheless, their compositions have originality and beauty. What is the relation between an artists style and reuse? Another way to look at this is through the entire corpus of an artists work. Reading all of Shakespeares plays contributes to a further understanding and appreciation of any specific play. Whether it is reuse or style, the more we see of an artist the more we can see his or her works as the products of a real person. There are other plays where reuse seems to be the case, like The First Part of King Henry the Fourth. Can you prospect for instances of your own?

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16
INTERLUDE A SEARCH FOR TRUTH OR IS IT FOR CERTAINTY?

Modern theories of language make much of its innate ambiguity. Not only may what you say not be what you mean, but it may be understood differently by different people anyway. Rather than a recent discovery, it had been recognized in Classical times that the art of rhetoric had the purpose of convincing people to do something or to believe something quite independent of truth. Certainty, then, as elicited in an audience can sometimes take the place of truth. Of course, that presumes we can know truth: epistemology vs. ontology. On the other hand, law presumably exists not to convince but to clarify and direct activities and relationships we speak of the rule of law. However, it too is composed of words and grammatical constructs with all their inherent ambiguities. As precise (or imprecise) as lawmakers may strive to be, interpretation is always necessary. Scripture purports to avoid the manipulations of rhetoric and to do all possible to avoid the ambiguities of language. That claim has been a matter of sometimes violent disagreement for millennia. A particular conundrum is that Scripture uses parables. Parables have been a matter of concern and discussion from the early church Fathers such as St. Augustine, back in time to the Gospel According to Saint Mark (4:10-12), and before that to Isaiah (6:9-10). Law in the clothes of the law of Venice is at the heart of this play. Not only the law of the courts, but the law of the Old Testament and its supplanting by the Gospel of the New. There is no understanding Shylock without the framework of the Old, and no understanding Antonio or Portia without that of the New. Shakespeare takes all this on with enthusiasm. He offers us what initially appears to be clear enough, but then shows the extent to which interpretation and ambiguity play together.

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PORTIA AND THE CASKETS


In her first scene Portia lays before us the problem created for her by her deceased father. Her artful use of will, as intention and as a legal document, brings the hint that this play may involve the law and its interpretation. While the law will be given great respect, interpreting it will not be simple or straightforward. The will of her father requires that the choice of a casket determine who it is that Portia marries. Nerissas explanation reflects the Christian concept of providence at work.
PORTIA: but this reason is not in fashion to choose me a husband : O me, the word choose, I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse whom I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curb'd by the will of a dead father : is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none. NERISSA: Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations, therefore the lottery that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you, will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly, but one who you shall rightly love. (1.2.20)

Portias suitors try their best to select the correct casket. Morocco is so concerned with his magnificence that he cannot avoid the attraction of the golden one and its inscription, Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire. Why, thats the lady, he says, all the world desires her (2.7.38). Opening the casket to read the scroll he sees an apt description of his literal certitude, Gilded tombs do worms infold : / Had you been as wise as bold, / Young in limbs, in judgment old, / Your answer had not been inscrolled (2.7.69). Aragon can handle metaphors but is so taken with himself that he cannot but select the inscription, Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves (2.9.36). Opening the silver casket he finds the portrait of a blinking idiot. Portia dispatches him adroitly.
ARAGON: Did I deserve no more than a fools head, Is that my prize, are my deserts no better? PORTIA: To offend and judge are two distinct offices, And of opposed natures. (2.9.59)

It is to the young couple Portia and Bassanio that Shakespeare turns careful attention. In their banter, so I claim, they may address an important political issue of Elizabethan times: the perceived Catholic threat to the Protestant state.

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BASSANIO: Let me choose, For as I am, I live upon the rack. PORTIA: Upon the rack Bassanio, then confess What treason there is mingled with your love. BASSANIO: None but the ugly treason of mistrust, Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love : There may as well be amity and life, Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love. PORTIA: Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack, Where men enforcd do speak any thing. BASSANIO: Promise me life, and Ill confess the truth. PORTIA: Well then, confess and live. BASSANIO: Confess and love Had been the very sum of my confession : Oh happy torment, when my torturer Doth teach me answers for deliverance : . . . (3.2.24)

The state did apply torture to Catholics suspected of treason. While the party line was that no one was tortured because of their religion, the contrary was abundantly documented in the pamphlet wars between the English Protestants at home and the English Catholics who were safely on the Continent. The phrase I have found treason in trust is in Elizabeths speech when she agreed to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1586. While not precisely Shakespeares wording, it is distinctive and unusual enough that a connection between the speech and the play is at least plausible. Where men enforcd do speak anything is another reminder that truth and certainty may be quite different. Do the torturers hear only what they expect to hear, when my torturer / Doth teach me answers for deliverance? Of course, they will be satisfied certain only when their appointed task yields its expected results. Bassanios choice of the leaden casket is preceded by a song provided at the behest of Portia. The song is short, there are rhymes with lead and the text implies that outward appearance may be merely delusion. Is this Portias attempt to bend her fathers injunction and influence Bassanios path to a correct true selection? We dont know if it influences the young man, for he engages in a long and ornate monologue that may or may not be responsive to the hints. The ambiguity of all this as it leads to a correct choice is another layer of Shakespeares teasing us with the nature of truth and certainty, ambiguity and interpretation. Is Shakespeare, in addition, making fun of Nerissa and the providence of which she is so certain?

PRIOR TO THE COURTROOM


Shylock is at a disadvantage in the society of Venice because he and his

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fellow Jews are tolerated at the pleasure of the rulers. He has to depend on the usefulness his money provides to the state, and that dependence Venice priding itself for its justice is framed by its laws. If he has any leverage it is that the reliability of the laws of Venice is as necessary to the state as to him. As he discusses Antonios worthiness with Bassanio, it seems that Shylock cannot shake free of the worries of arbitrary actions of rapacious rulers the land rats and the water rats. Shylock uses qualities like good and nouns like thieves in their multiplicity of meanings, their ambiguity, to say a safe thing and mean an unsafe other. Everything in these tormented relationships, between Shylock and Antonio and between Shylock and Venice, even goodness, is about money and possessions.
SHYLOCK: Antonio is a good man. BASSANIO: Have you heard any imputation to the contrary? SHYLOCK: Ho no, no, no, no : my meaning in saying he is a good man, is to have you understand me that he is sufficient, yet his means are in supposition : he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies, I understand moreover upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath squandered abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors but men, there be land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves, I mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks : the man is notwithstanding sufficient. Three thousand ducats, I think I may takes his bond. (1.3.11)

Antonio has his say, too. After Shylock finishes a long discourse about making money grow, Antonio turns to Bassanio.
ANTONIO: Mark you this Bassanio, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart. Oh what a goodly outside falsehood hath. (1.3.93)

Shakespeare may have imposed his dislike of the inflexible Puritans who were trying to close the theaters (they finally did but not until after Shakespeare was gone). Be that as it may, Antonio in the spirit of the play makes it abundantly clear that language is not to be trusted. While he directs this at Shylock, it will be his confidant Bassanio who will make a smiling promise and then forget him. A goodly outside indeed.

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LORENZO, CERTAIN, AND MY LOVE INDEED.


There is no place clearer that truth and certainty are quite different than in the relationship between Jessica and Lorenzo. This starts with Lancelot shuttling messages between the lovers (for money). Jessica opens the transaction by giving a letter to him to take to Lorenzo.
JESSICA: O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise I shall end this strife, Become a Christian, and thy loving wife. (2.3.19)

Although Lorenzo may be unaware of those particular words of Jessicas, he appears to understand her basis for doubt as he later says to Lancelot, Tell gentle Jessica / I will not fail her, speak it privately (2.4.19). This little exchange has the not-very-reliable Lancelot as witness and intermediary. Audiences would have understood that under English law it is almost enough to ensure a legally binding marriage, called a spousal contract, between Jessica and Lorenzo. The culmination comes soon after as Lorenzo arrives at Jessicas doorstep. He is likely in costume as befits the masque he and his friends are using for cover as they go to meet her.
JESSICA: Who are you? tell me for more certainty, Albeit Ill swear that I do know your tongue. LORENZO: Lorenzo, and thy love. JESSICA: Lorenzo certain, and my love indeed, For who love I so much? and now who knows But you Lorenzo, whether I am yours? LORENZO: Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art. (2.6.26)

His voice is not enough to relieve her anxiety. She wants the certainty of his words of confirmation and hopes they will be the truth. There is some argument amongst editors as to the proper text for Lorenzos final line is it my thoughts or thy thoughts? In either case, he responds perhaps as best and as much to the point as he can by promising her marriage. This acknowledgement that they are pledged to one another, especially that it was made in the presence of witnesses, was enough in sixteenth century England to create a legally valid marriage. Jessicas certainty of Lorenzos identity was a step to her certainty that they are wed. As the play develops we see that while Lorenzo is faithful to her, he cannot avoid a certainty that masquerades for truth and is part of his societys dogma. Here is one example.

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LORENZO: And never dare misfortune cross her foot, Unless she do it under this excuse, That she is issue to a faithless Jew. (2.4.35)

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TUBAL BRINGS GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS


One last example before entering the Dukes courtroom. Tubal reports to Shylock that Antonio has had substantial losses and that Jessica, while in Genoa, sold a ring she had taken. First, the shipwreck.
SHYLOCK: What, what, what? Ill luck, ill luck. TUBAL: Hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis. SHYLOCK: I thank God, I thank God, is it true, is it true? TUBAL: I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wreck. (3.1.91)

Next, the ring as recounted to Tubal by a traveling companion.


TUBAL: One of them showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey. SHYLOCK: Out upon her, thou torturest me Tubal. It was my turquoise, I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor : I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys. (3.1.108)

While we find out in the last act that Antonios ships were safe all along, Shylock does what he can (including his habitual repetitions although there have been editorial disagreements as to how many whats there should be) to confirm the truth of Tubals statement. Now certain, Shylock is beside himself with mean-spirited pleasure in his opponents dilemma. When Tubal continues his report of the ring Shylock immediately assumes, with certainty, that it was Leahs gift. Perhaps Jessica took only one ring, but we dont know. Perhaps Shylock had already suffered the emotional loss of that particular ring and now rushes to a conclusion. Much as a good magician creates an illusion by distraction, Shylock sees what he wants to see through the sincere actions of his friend.

IN THE COURTROOM
Act Three establishes the Duke and Shylock in agreement that the laws of Venice must be obeyed. In addition, Shylock commits himself to a singleminded enforcement of the bond. The groundwork is now set for Portias courtroom triumph over Shylock. This will be based on her ability to interpret the laws of Venice and her foreknowledge of Shylocks stubborn refusal to admit any ambiguity in either the law or the bond.

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Here are just a few of the many instances in Act Four where ambiguity and interpretation are the subject of the play. Notice, though, that the consequences of the bond seem painfully certain even before entering the courtroom. Antonio had already sent a letter to Bassanio stating that my bond to the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible I should live (3.2.314). This was read aloud in Portias presence so she can be certain of the seriousness of the situation even though she has not seen the bond itself. There is a further twist of truth in that the laws of the real Venice (as well as those of England) would have prohibited such a bond on the basis that it was inequitable. But whether Shakespeare or any in his audience knew this we don't know with any certainty. Early in Act Four (prior to Portia's arrival) the Duke cajoles Shylock to show thy mercy and remorse more strange / Than is thy strange apparent cruelty, ending with We all expect a gentle answer, Jew (4.1.16). That is perhaps not the best way to approach Shylock because he may hear gentle as a pun on Gentile or a reminder that he is not of the nobility. But theres actually nothing the Duke could say to change Shylocks mind. Shylock responds by shifting the point of view from the Dukes Christian allusions to his own true representation of his feeling toward the merchant.
SHYLOCK: So can I give no reason, nor will I not, More than a lodgd hate, and a certain loathing I bear Antonio (4.1.59)

The Duke is consistent in his appeal to mercy. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none? (4.1.88) he asks. Shylock responds, What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong? He continues with a challenge to the citizens of Venice to treat slaves as they would be treated.
SHYLOCK: You will answer, The slaves are ours. So do I answer you, The pound of flesh which I demand of him Is dearly bought, tis mine, and I will have it. If you deny me, fie upon your law. There is no force in the decrees of Venice ; I stand for judgment, answer. Shall I have it? (4.1.97)

Shylock, whose safety depends on the laws of Venice, is prepared to stake all on what he knows to be the necessity of slavery to the economy of the city. He seems to think that the Duke, while hardly a friend, is constrained by an unambiguous law, in effect imposing his own inflexibility on the Duke. He does not recognize the implications in the Dukes mandate to interpret the law as long as he does not impeach the justice of the state. If there could remain any doubt as to Shylocks literal and inflexible

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reading of the bond it is soon dispelled. Portia asks Shylock if he has a surgeon ready to stop the bleeding and he replies that the bond is unambiguous.
SHYLOCK: It is not nominated in the bond? PORTIA: It is not so expressed : but what of that? Twere good you do so much for charity. SHYLOCK: I cannot find it, tis not in the bond. (4.1.256)

Now it is time to look more closely at Portia. There are two instances of particular interest. The first is Portias use of tarry, for her a portentous word.
PORTIA: Tarry a little, there is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood, The words expressly are a pound of flesh : Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh, But in the cutting it, if thou dost shed One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods Are by the laws of Venice confiscate Unto the state of Venice. (4.1.301)

Portia has expressly interpreted the bond, using Shylocks own stubbornness to validate her action. He can say no more than, Is that the law? Portia immediately follows this with,
PORTIA: Thy self shall see the act : For, as thou urgest justice, be assurd Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.

This sounds as though she had overheard Shylocks contentious interchange with Salerio and Solanio, where he said, The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction (3.1.65). The last example of Portias interpretation of the law that we shall look at begins again with the word that must by now set Shylocks stomach to churning.
PORTIA: Tarry Jew, The law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice, If it be proved against an alien, That by direct, or indirect attempts He seek the life of any citizen, The party gainst the which he doth contrive, Shall seize one half his goods, the other half

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Comes to the privy coffer of the state, And the offenders life lies in the mercy Of the Duke only, gainst all other voice. In which predicament I say thou standst : For it appears by manifest proceeding, That indirectly, and directly too, Thou hast contriv'd against the very life Of the defendant . . . (4.1.343)

Portia claims that the law of Venice says such and such, but gives no proof. She has moved beyond interpretation to a certainty with a questionable foundation. That the Duke had the authority to modify the laws penalty would easily have been accepted by Elizabethan audiences. English monarchs had quite a bit of leeway and the legal phrase at the kings pleasure was hardly unfamiliar. The Duke does not bother to agree with Portia but moves on to lessen the harshness of the penalty. Shylock, similarly, does not protest but appeals for further relief. Portia has triumphed, overwhelming Shylock even as she openly states that it is she who decides what is true. Has Shylock realized that arguing might jeopardize the benefits of an unambiguous law? Has he seen the dangers that can result from a law that can be manipulated by the rulers of the state? Or is he so drained of strength that he cannot proceed?

EPILOGUE
What is it the characters in this play seek truth or certainty? In how many different ways in our lives do we assume truth and certainty are the same? Portia is certain that whatever she does is for the best. Has she made truth subservient to what she sees as the good?

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17
INTERLUDE USURY, INTEREST, BUSINESS ...

This play takes place in an imagined Venice in an indefinite year. Shakespeares audiences were in their very real London with few people having any familiarity with Catholic Venice, a maritime and trading power that was in a protracted decline. In a similar way, there were hardly any Jews in London but some Italian city-states harbored many. The position of the Jews in Italy changed over the centuries according to the needs of the various rulers and the ebb and flow of the enthusiasm of the Church. Their lives were proscribed by laws restricting their means of livelihood and often their places of residence. Pawnbroking was open to them as well as some grander finance, sometimes (and sometimes not) the selling of used or new goods but not the trades and not much else. 9 Finance was a two-edged privilege in that their more-or-less monopoly as lenders drew attention to them. Complaints about the avarice of the Italian Jews were frequent and bitter. These complaints were not restricted to them but also included the Christian Lombards (from northern Italy), who provided finance across Europe and England and who were known to charge high rates. In The Merchant of Venice usury, or interest, is definitely disfavored by the Christian Antonio and defended by the Jew Shylock. However, there seems to be some confusion as to just what it is or what they are. Whatever the case in this imagined Venice, there was a great deal of usury (or was it interest?) in England. Usury was a favorite topic of sermons where the Protestant churchmen railed against their fellow religionists. There are many records showing Christians accused of usury being hauled into English courts. Jews were used as foils to better illustrate the unacceptability of usury, but Christians were doing the charging. Elizabethan society was pushing and acquisitive and the welfare of the poor, not just in London, continued to be a profound concern to the clergy. But the clerics had little influence on the changing world of commerce and government. Just outside the theater doors was London the commercial and governmental center with a large influx of young people trying to earn a
9 Ben Jonson's popular play Volpone (1605) is set in Venice. One of the characters gives us an indication of what the English might have known when he mentions that he dealt with [his] Jews to furnish [his new home] with moveables.

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living. Wage earners needed money for rent and food and were often driven to use unscrupulous Christian pawnbrokers. Merchants and artisans, as well as people in rural areas, frequently used loans to satisfy business needs. As for the lenders, the roles of the bankruptcy courts show that while there were wealthy people who lent, so did people of less stature who had cash they wanted to put to work. The English nobility and gentry were affected by debt, also. The medieval tradition of conspicuous hospitality was still in vogue, and many land-rich but cash-poor families were in substantial debt. The new merchant class could provide the large loans needed, and when there was a default they took over the estates of their debtors. The new owners brought efficiency to estate management along with higher agricultural productivity, although as in modern times that often meant disruption of employment.

A SPITEFUL DANCE OF MUTUAL DISTRUST


The Merchant of Venice would be a different play if usury were left out. It is a central theme but indirectly. There is heated talk about it although Shylock forgoes any bond on his loan except for the pound of flesh. While the bond is inequitable whether in Italian or English courts, it is a stretch to call it usurious. The usury that doesn't happen is reflected in the dinner that never happens, saving Shylock from sitting at the table with the Christian revelers. Shylock and Antonio argue at length about the nature of interest in Act One Scene Three. Each approaches the subject from his own point of view and his own position in society. Immediately upon seeing Antonio, Shylock confides in the audience.
SHYLOCK [aside]: How like a fawning publican he looks. I hate him for he is a Christian : But more, for that in low simplicity He loans out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation, and he rails Even there where merchants most do congregate On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, Which he calls interest : Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him. (1.3.36)

Shylocks epithet publican is used in the New Testament to mean tax collector (for instance, Matthew 18:17). Antonio attempts to claim the high ground of Christian fellowship, I neither lend nor borrow/ By taking nor giving excess (1.3.56). Shylock counters with his convoluted argument from

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necessity, This [Jacobs scheme] was a way to thrive, and he was blest;/ And thrift is blessing if men steal it not (1.3.85). Shylock and Antonio engage in a spiteful dance, exchanging offenses and insults. Antonios grip on moral superiority is challenged by his vindictiveness.
ANTONIO: I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not As to they friends, for when did friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend? But lend it rather to thine enemy, Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face Exact the penalties. (1.3.125)

Shylock responds disingenuously,


SHYLOCK: Why, look how you storm, I would be friends with you, and have your love, Forget the shames that you have stained me with, Supply your present wants, and take no doit Of usance for my moneys, and youll not hear me, This is kind I offer. (1.3.133) [and later] If he should break his day, what should I gain By the exaction of the forfeiture? (1.3.159)

Shakespeares modeling of this testy dialogue fits well the historical realities faced by the Jews in Italy. They were tolerated by the Christian communities within which they lived, but with little grace and much real or implied threat. Their security and safety depended on their wealth. They served the purpose of providing loans that forestalled the social unrest that could result from the common citizen being destitute, and that kept the wheels of commerce turning. Not incidentally, they also provided the rulers of the city-states with funds via taxes and fines. There was plenty of ill feeling from all concerned. That is not to say that Shakespeare set out to impress the plight of Jews upon his audience. It is to say that after four hundred years and whatever Shakespeares audience heard, the merchant and the money-lender remain humans, not mere caricatures.

WHEN CONFUSION PREVAILS


The Old Testament seems to prohibit loans that return more than the principle. Here are a few of the more well known instances taken from the

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EXODUS 22:25: If thou lend money to my people, that is, to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be as a usurer unto him : ye shall not oppress him with usury. LEVIT. 25:35: Moreover if they brother be impoverished, and fallen in decay with thee, thou shalt relieve him, and as a stranger and sojourner, so shall he live with thee, LEVIT. 25:36: Thou shalt take no usury of him, nor vantage, but thou shalt feare thy God, that thy brother may live with thee. LEVIT. 25:37: Thou shalt not give him thy money to usury, nor lend him thy vitals for increase. DEUT. 23:19: Thou shalt not give to usury to thy brother: as usury of money, usury of meat, usury of any thing that is put to usury. DEUT. 23:20: Unto a stranger thou may lend upon usury, but thou shalt not lend upon usury unto thy brother, that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to, in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

These do appear to prohibit usury amongst brothers. However, problems exist because the translation is less than accurate, confusing different kinds of loans, and the setting was an agrarian society far different from sixteenth century Europe. The New Testament may address usury in the parable (so not to be read literally) of the talents in Matthew and Luke, but aside from a mistranslation of Luke 6:35 in the Geneva Bible nothing else is said. Many sixteenth century English sermons made it abundantly clear that Protestant ministers felt usury and interest were indistinguishable, that both were travesties, and the prohibition should be absolute. Among more pragmatic people in commerce and government, usury was seen as lending at exorbitant rates or with nefarious conditions (of which there were many, similar to unscrupulous lending today). In the commercial sense, interest was lending with the aim of participating in profit. In the more social sense, interest was akin to pawnbroking or lending money for personal use with conditions that were generally considered to be fair. Elizabethan law recognized that ten per cent per annum was permissible, ironic in being the amount of the tithe. Christian theologians struggled with casting these Old Testament passages into something that made sense in a changing world. That was a lost battle as early as the late Middle Ages, when the Italian city states raised commercial endeavors to a high degree of sophistication and credit was essential to keep business moving. Governments, too, needed credit and loans to stay solvent and to press warfare. If conditions were desperate the interest rates they paid could be high. Many English clerics did not give up hope that changes could be made until overwhelmed by the eighteenth centurys laissez faire economics.

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In The Merchant of Venice not that Shakespeare was a lawyer or what we would now call an economist the root of the problem is not usury. It is not even the inequitable nature of the bond. It is Shylocks insisting that the bond is forfeit at a certain time and not giving Antonio the opportunity to repay the loan after the due date. This also seems to have been the objection to money-lending that occupied the thoughts of English legislators and the Privy Council. While the moral issue was the lack of charity, the pragmatic issue was the condition put upon the borrower.

EPILOGUE
Whatever the impact of the many sermons in the very real England, it was an acquisitive age. Government office, monopolies, and patronage were sought after as sources of wealth. In some cases this was to avoid poverty, in others, it was to accumulate power, land, and money. Outside the theater, Londoners of all classes had to deal with rising prices and changing economic conditions, and might well be seeing their own plight on stage.

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18
INTERLUDE WHAT BECOMES OF SHYLOCK?

What becomes of Shylock? This is not a trick question. The answer is what is seems it should be: we dont know because Shakespeare doesnt tell us. There is, though, a nagging connection with a later play of Shakespeares that warrants at least some attention. Here is Shylocks exit. It does stick in the mind, adding an element of pathos to this tragical comedy.
PORTIA: Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say? SHYLOCK: I am content. PORTIA: Clerk, draw a deed of gift. SHYLOCK: I pray you give me leave to go from hence, I am not well, send the deed after me, And I will sign it. DUKE: Get thee gone, but do it. (4.1.388)

HENRY VIII OR ALL IS TRUE


Henry VIII (originally entitled All Is True) was written at the end of Shakespeares career in 1612 or 1613, probably in collaboration with his partner John Fletcher. Not a great play, it is most remembered for the destruction of the Globe Theater in 1613, when the buildings thatched roof caught fire as a result of some stage effects. Setting aside that sad event, there is an intriguing analogy in that plays Act Five Scene Two and our plays Act Four Scene One. Both take place in a courtroom of sorts, both rotate around mercy, both bring law of some kind to bear upon a person who the court intends to conquer. In Act Five Scene Two of Henry VIII Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIIIs Archbishop of Canterbury, is called before the kings council which is controlled by Cranmers enemies. The council (as a court) sets out to humiliate him by making him come quickly and then wait to be called, they would shame to make me / Wait else at door, a fellow-counsellor, / Mong boys, grooms, and lackeys. Shylock, too, is made to wait and then is called, while Antonio and the Duke are already talking to one another in the courtroom. Go one, says the Duke, and call the Jew into the court.

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Salerio, faithful to his role as messenger, acknowledges, He is ready at the door, he comes, my lord (4.1.14). In order to see why this is or so I claim more than a mere coincidence, we have to look to a time after the death of Henry VIII and out of the scope of both plays. Cranmer was elevated to his substantial position as a result of his initiative and creativity in the justification of Henrys desire to rid himself of a wife. He did very well while the King was alive but, not surprisingly, received a death sentence in the Catholic Mary Is reign in 1556. Imprisoned, he was asked to choose between Protestantism and Catholicism, and tortured psychologically (if I may use a modern term) by on-again, off-again confinement and the false promises of his enemies. He wavered, and six times recanted, although finally proclaiming his Protestant beliefs and being most famously martyred. Cranmers recantations were quickly published and distributed in 1556 by his enemies and his fiery death was described at length in John Foxes popular Book of Martyrs. Several of these recantations (probably prepared by others for his signature while he was under duress) use the phrase, I am content to submit myself . . . Shakespeare often uses content in his plays, but in The Merchant of Venice it is most trenchant. Antonio is content in the commercial sense of agreeing to a contract as he and Shylock discuss the bond. Bassanio finds the word in the note in the correctly chosen casket. Jessica wishes it for Portia in her marriage. Antonio uses it in reducing the financial terms to Shylock after his defeat by Portia. When Shylock is defeated, in response to Portias biting Art thou contented, Jew? What dost thou say? he replies, I am content (4.1.388). In the context of an audience familiar with the martyr Cranmer, Shylocks response to Portia could have made for very effective drama. There is more in Henry VIII. Even during the Kings reign Cranmer had to defend himself against several members of the council who were set upon his imprisonment and ultimate extinction. Harassed by Gardiner, Cranmer makes a satirical comment centering on mercy. Mercy, of course, is central to Portias argument and Antonios actions, but not immune to Shakespeares irony.
CRANMER: Ah, my good lord of Winchester, I thank you. You are always my good friend. If your will pass, I shall both find your lordship judge and juror, You are so merciful. I see your end Tis my undoing. Henry VIII 5.2.92

There are several speeches in Act Five Scene Two that bring our play to mind. Cranmers enemies on the council think that they have achieved their goals. The Lord Chamberlain says, Thus for you, my lord, that he will be sent to the Tower. Cranmer then produces the Kings ring, given him in trust.

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CRANMER: Stay, good, my lords. I have a little yet to say. Look there, my lords [He shows the Kings ring] By virtue of that ring I take my cause Out of the grips of cruel men, and give it To a most noble judge, the King my master. Henry VIII 5.2.132

Portia said, Tarry a little. There is something else (4.1.300), as she hammers in the final nail in Shylocks defeat. The ring in Henry VIII plays the role of Portias reading of the law. As the scene develops, King Henry VIII appears on stage to chide his council for demeaning Cranmer. The Lord Chamberlain crumbles:
LORD CHAMBERLAIN: Thus far, My most dread sovereign, may it like your grace To let my tongue excuse all. What was purposed Concerning his imprisonment was rather If there be faith in men meant for his trial And fair purgation to the world than malice, Im sure, in me. Henry VIII 5.2.182

Is that the law? Shylock says. Cranmers enemies are reduced to whining apologies.

EPILOGUE
Gardiner realized his goal after a decade and condemned Cranmer to martyrdom during Mary I's reign. This was outside the scope of the play but known to Shakespeares audiences. Shylock leaves the stage and the play. Would anyone expect that he would be welcomed as a convert? Could he turn away from his community, from all he knew, and sit down to eat with Christians? Is irony so much a part of Shakespeare that we could expect better treatment of a convert than of a Protestant?

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Part IV SOURCES
Homer more than any other has taught the rest of us the art of framing lies in the right way. Aristotle, Poetics, 24, trans. I. Bywater, 1924.

Whatever else they [Marlowes chief characters] may lack, they know nothing of half-heartedness or irresolution. A volcanic self-assertion, a complete absorption in some one desire, is their characteristic. A.C. Bradley, English Poets: Selections with Critical Introductions by Various Writers, 1880

What is material and mechanical Shakespeare willingly accepts from others; his range of invention is almost without limit, but it is invention in the spiritual world. Edward Dowdwn, Shakespeare as a Comic Dramatist, in Representative English Comedies, 1903

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19
SOURCES CHRISTOPHER MARLOWES JEW OF MALTA

Many will talk of title to a crown. What right had Caesar to the empery? Machiavel in the Prologue to Jew of Malta

William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were both born in the year of 1564 but followed very different paths to the London stage. Marlowe went to Cambridge, earning a degree in theology. Shakespeare had a sound early education but then attended the school of experience, earning a living as actor before he became a playwright. Marlowes plays were enthusiastically received in London and his creative abilities in plot and language (it was Marlowe who introduced the unrhymed iambic pentameter to the stage) were well acknowledged. Marlowe, murdered in 1593, was original as a playwright, indelible as a personality. Perhaps Marlowe was for Shakespeare an unshakable professional rival or perhaps a stimulating acquaintance and fellow-playwright. Whatever the channel his influence on Shakespeare can be seen in such plays as Richard III and The Merchant of Venice. Marlowe's The Jew of Malta opened in 1592 and was so popular that it was on the stage at the same time as The Merchant of Venice, in 1596 and 1597. Superficially their resemblance is obvious, and this continues at a more detailed level. You can find an opposing point of view presented by Irving Ribner. Marlowes play is a comedy, rude and crude in its characterizations. It is also a tragedy, as well as a bit of an old-fashioned revenge play. The Jew, Barabas (bar-AH-bas), is to a large extent only a caricature of a human being with no endearing qualities as well as being a catalog of Jewish stereotypes. Marlowes confrontational style (which is what got him killed) raises a barrier to seeing the play with any degree of separation from its immediate impact. Marlowe and Shakespeare used comic anti-Semitism as a backdrop against which to carry out ironical and satirical forays against institutional and personal hypocrisy. There was a wealth of anti-Puritan and anti-Catholic

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sentiment in Elizabethan England, and these form themes in both plays. Both playwrights went even further by assaulting the high ground of mercy claimed by Christians. There is one other feature of both these plays that may surprise the modern reader: their nearly unremitting ribaldry. People went to the Elizabethan theater for a laugh, and just as with modern media, sexual jokes and double-entendres are reliable ways to evoke laughter.

BARABAS, THE MERCHANT OF MALTA, AND ANTONIO, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE


Both plays open in similar ways with their respective merchants center stage, engaged in introspection. However, Shakespeare's is a person respected in Venice and who has friends, while Marlowe's is the Jew, a stranger, isolated and bitter. The different styles of the two playwrights are displayed from the very first lines of the plays. Marlowe uses slashing characterization and taunting irony; Shakespeare patiently leads, his irony cloaked.

The Jew of Malta


Barabas, alone, gloats over his stacks of gold, delighting in images of his homeward-bound vessels. He is interrupted by two merchants, masters of his ships acquaintances but not friends. After reporting on their success the merchants leave and two Jews enter. While they may be friends, they bring what can only be bad news, that there are Turkish ships in the harbor. Here are some fragments of two monologues in Act One Scene One. Barabas ends with a maxim that portents the plays course. It is also something with which an Elizabethan audience could easily agree.
BARABAS: [having ruminated upon the gold, pearls and jewels to be acquired from the merchants of the Indian mines and the wealthy Moors] This is the ware wherein consists my wealth; And thus methinks should men of judgment frame Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade, And, as their wealth increaseth, so inclose Infinite riches in a little room. ... Mine argosy from Alexandria, Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail, Are smoothly gliding down by Candy-shore To Malta, through our Mediterranean sea . . . Jew of Malta 1.1.33

And further on,


BARABAS: Thus trolls our fortune in by land and sea,

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And thus we are on every side enrichd: These are the blessing promised to the Jews, ... Who hateth me but for my happiness? Or who is honourd now but for his wealth? Rather had I, a Jew, be hated thus, Than pitied in a Christian poverty; ... They say we are a scatterd nation: I cannot tell; but we have scrambled up More wealth by far than those that brag of faith ... I must confess we come not to be kings: Thats not our fault: alas, our numbers few! And crowns come either by succession, Or urgd by force; and nothing violent, Oft have I heard tell, can be permanent. Jew of Malta 1.1.103

The Merchant of Venice


Antonio is not alone. His opening speech is addressed to his acquaintances, Salerio and Solanio, who try to cheer him up. While Antonio is feeling sad, he is confident that his commercial fortunes are safe.
SALERIO: Your mind is tossing on the ocean, There where your argosies with portly sail Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood, ... SOLANIO: Believe me sir, had I such venture forth, The better part of my affections, would Be with my hopes abroad. ... But tell not me, I know Antonio Is sad to think upon his merchandise. ANTONIO: Believe me no, I thank my fortune for it, My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place ; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year : Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad. (1.1.8)

His young friends Bassanio, Gratiano and Lorenzo soon arrive in good spirits. They speak to him respectfully, but familiarly and with encouragement. Shakespeare waits until the introduction of Shylock in Act One Scene Three before treating a darker side of Venice.
SHYLOCK: [speaking of Antonio in an aside]

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


I hate him for he a Christian : But more, for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. ... He hates our sacred nation, and he railes Even there where merchants most do congregate On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, Which he calls interest : cursed be my tribe If I forgive him. (1.3.36)

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Shakespeare uses Act Three Scene One, immediately before the romantic center of the play in Act Two, as a center of a different kind. It is there that Salerio and Solanio ridicule Shylock, and there that Shylock rises up to his fullest human dimension with his Hath not a Jew eyes speech (3.1.47). This is the speech that ends, The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. It is also in Act Three that Shylock meets with his only friend, Tubal. His fellow Jew is the bearer of good news but also bad just as Barabas visitors were. He tells Shylock that Antonio hath an argosy cast away coming from Tripolis (3.1.95) and that Jessica wasted his pilfered money in Genoa, Both Shylock and Barabas speak of villainy, both poets capitalize on Jewish stereotypes, yet both characters are more than superficial and onedimensional.

COURTROOMS
Both plays have courtroom scenes, where Barabas and Shylock confront Christian justice, or mercy, depending on ones point of view. The settings of the scenes are quite different. Marlowe places his early, in Act One Scene Two, and has a lot of development to do thereafter. Shakespeare, delaying the scene until Act Four Scene One, uses his as a dramatic culmination followed by the relief of the Elysian final act. Shakespeares Shylock episode is derived, with considerable fidelity, from a story in Il Pecorone, a thirteenth century Italian collection of tales. But he also has a debt to Marlowe that includes plot and wording.

Jew of Malta
Marlowes courtroom is a place where Governor Ferneze schemes to find a way to extract enough money from the Jews of Malta to pay a long delayed tribute to the Turks, who now have forces ready to invade. Marlowe quickly takes us through the Jew as perpetual stranger and the Jew as deserving infamy, as derived from the Gospels. He also provides an overview of this stage version Maltas laws, justice, and penalties.

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BARABAS: Are strangers with your tribute to be taxd? SECOND KNIGHT: Have strangers leave with us to get their wealth? Then let them with us contribute. BARABAS: How! equally? FERNEZE: No, Jew, like infidels; For through our sufferance of your hateful lives, Who stand accursed in the sight of heaven, These taxes and afflictions are befalln, And therefore thus we are determined.-Read there the articles of our decrees. OFFICER: [reads] First, the tribute-money of the Turks Shall all be levied amongst the Jews, and each of them to pay One half of his estate. BARABAS: How! half his estate!--I hope you mean not mine. FERNEZE: Read on. OFFICER: [reads] Secondly, he that denies to pay, shall Straight-become a Christian. BARABAS: How! a Christian!--Hum,--whats here to do? [Aside.] OFFICER [reads] Lastly, he that denies this, shall absolutely Lose all he has. Jew of Malta 1.2.59

This is followed by a debate that gives Barabas a marginally more developed character.
FIRST KNIGHT: From naught at first thou camst to little wealth, From little unto more, from more to most: If your first curse fall heavy on thy head, And make thee poor and scornd of all the world, Tis not our fault, but thy inherent sin. BARABAS: What, bring you Scripture to confirm your wrongs? Preach me not out of my possessions. Some Jews are wicked, as all Christians are: But say the tribe that I descended of Were all in general cast away for sin, Shall I be tried by their transgression? The man that dealeth righteously shall live; And which of you can charge me otherwise? FERNEZE: Out, wretched Barabas! Shamst thou not thus to justify thyself, As if we knew not thy profession? If thou rely upon thy righteousness, Be patient, and thy riches will increase. Excess of wealth is cause of covetousness; And covetousness, O, tis a monstrous sin! Jew of Malta 1.2.106

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There in the middle of this passage is Barabas' failed appeal to Christian mercy as he understands it: But say the tribe that I descended of / Were all in general cast away for sin, / Shall I be tried for their transgression? While hardly the only New Testament source, The Gospel According to Matthew comes to mind here, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matt. 7:1-2).10 Marlowe uses the Protestant doctrine of salvation by grace as a response to Barabas, so that there seem to be two conversations, not one. The Governor speaks ironically or hypocritically could anyone believe that he does not covet Barabas possessions? This scene continues, still in the person of the Governor, ending with his Content thee, (a phrase Shakespeare uses, too) and his assurance that justice has been done.
BARABAS: Well, then, my lord, say, are you satisfied? You have my goods, my money, and my wealth, My ships, my store, and all that I enjoyd; And, having all, you can request no more, Unless your unrelenting flinty hearts Suppress all pity in your stony breasts, And now shall move you to bereave my life. FERNEZE: No, Barabas; to stain our hands with blood Is far from us and our profession. BARABAS: Why, I esteem the injury far less, To take the lives of miserable men Than be the causers of their misery. You have my wealth, the labour of my life, The comfort of mine age, my childrens hope; And therefore neer distinguish of the wrong. FERNEZE: Content thee, Barabas; thou hast naught but right. BARABAS: Your extreme right does me exceeding wrong: But take it to you, ithe devils name! Jew of Malta 1.2 138

The Merchant of Venice


The disguised Portia provides the Duke with the legal basis for judging against Shylock. The Duke then offers mercy. Gratiano continues in his unrestrained role of sightseer at a public execution.
PORTIA: Tarry, Jew, The law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice, If it be proved against an alien, That by direct, or indirect attempts He seek the life of any citizen, The party gainst the which he doth contrive
10 Shakespeare was to visit this theme in Measure for Measure, first performed in 1604.

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Shall seize one half his goods, the other half Comes to the privy coffer of the state, And the offenders life lies in the mercy Of the Duke only, ... Down therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke. ... GRATIANO: Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself! ... DUKE: That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit, I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it : For half thy wealth, it is Antonios, The other half comes to the general state, Which humbleness may drive into a fine. PORTIA: Ay for the state, not for Antonio. (4.1.343)

The verdict having been proclaimed, the penalties begin to be worked out, with the Duke in the role of a wise judge dispensing mercy within the framework of the law. Antonio takes an active role as Portia asks him what mercy he can render.
SHYLOCK: Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that, You take my house, when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house : you take my life When you do take the means whereby I live. PORTIA: What mercy can you render him, Antonio? GRATIANO: A halter gratis! Nothing else, for Gods sake. ANTONIO: So please my lord the Duke, and all the court To quit the fine for one half of his goods, I am content : so he will let me have The other half in use, to render it Upon his death, unto the gentleman That lately stole his daughter. Two things provided more, that for this favour He presently become a Christian : The other, that he do record a gift Here in the court of all he dies possessed Unto his son Lorenzo, and his daughter. ... GRATIANO: In christening shalt thou have two godfathers, Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more, To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. (4.1.370)

Is Antonio a Paul-like figure, dispensing mercy, or is he a merchant, stipulating terms in a commercial contract? Is he laying out a financial arrangement and Shylocks conversion in much the same way?

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The language in both plays is strikingly similar in the courtroom scenes. Shakespeare even uses the penalties of fine and conversion, as does Marlowe. These make for a more dramatically interesting threat than that of instant death in the Il Pecorone story. The Jew is an alien, subject to calumny, subject to the laws of Venice and Malta and at the mercy of their citizens. While Barnabas and Shylock are very different characters, reflecting the nature of their creators, their plight is much the same. Both playwrights are revealing the resemblance between the perpetually alien Jews, Protestants under Catholic rulers, and Catholics in Protestant regimes. Both are using irony to lead their audiences to the realization that there is more to the Christian life than the belief that one Confession is superior to another.

DAUGHTERS AND VIRGINITY


In sixteenth century England, at least among the aristocracy, daughters were commodities to be married off to a familys benefit. A girls virginity affected her marriageability, which in the English mind was convertible to honor and connections. That is not to say that, at least in England, young women were always cloistered. Evidence suggests that there were many long engagements, and intimate relations prior to marriage were hardly uncommon. Shakespeare himself was an example of this, as it appears that his and Anne Hathaway's first child was conceived before their wedding date. This treatment of daughters as commodities was a good opportunity for sarcastic humor, which both playwrights use. Marlowe sticks with his badboy image, while Shakespeare is somewhat more subtle.

Jew of Malta
Barabas seeks to regain his fortune. A convent occupies his appropriated former house, where his money is hidden. He orders his daughter Abigail to enter the sect. Abigail, loyal to her father, is complicit in the ruse.
ABIGAIL: . . . of thy house they mean to make a nunnery, where none but their own sect Must enter in; men generally barred. BARABAS: My gold, my gold, and all my wealth is gone. ... Daughter, I have it: thou perceivst the plight Wherein these Christians have oppressed me; Be ruled by me, for in extremity We ought to make bar of no policy. ... BARABAS: Then Abigail, there must my girl Intreat the abbess to be entertained. ABIGAIL: How, as a nun?

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BARABAS: Ay, daughter, for religion Hides many mischiefs from suspicion. Jew of Malta 2.2.60

Abigail leaves the nunnery, but later, due to Barabas dastardly role in the (unlikely, but not more so than the deaths of Hamlet, Laertes and Polonius) murders of her suitor and another man, voluntarily returns to it. This provides a motive for Barabas to poison her and, incidentally, the nuns. This horrible act is to ensure that Abigail, who Barabas suspects may know about the murder, does not reveal his guilt. While we are not exploring the ins and outs of Marlowes play, it is worth pointing out that he wasnt just making up bizarre events. There was in 1530-1 an Act of Parliament authorizing the death by boiling of a mass poisoner. The Act goes into great detail describing the terrible deed, which has all the elements of Marlowes play. The victims were the seventeen members of the extended family of a priest, plus some poor folk. The irony is that the poisoner, as well as the victims, were Christian. Any of the audience aghast at the act on stage, attributing such terrible doings to a Jew, are caught in their own preconceived notions by real life. There are also similarities between plight of the Jews of Malta and the real-life extortion and expulsion of the English Jews by Edward I in 1290. Barabas is undone as Abigail informs a priest of his role in the murders. Marlowe presses forward with his anti-Catholic jibes, reminiscent both of Langlands Piers the Plowman, and Chaucers Canterbury Tales, making the point that wearing a friars robe does not assure honesty or virtue. As Abigail dies the friar first assures her that her confession will not be disclosed, and then says,
FRIAR BARNARDINE: Ay, and a virgin too; that grieves me most. But I must to the Jew, and exclaim on him, And make him stand in fear of me. Jew of Malta 3.6.40

The Merchant of Venice


Shylock seems obsessively concerned with Jessicas virginity and the protection of his treasure. Before leaving for dinner with Antonio, Shylock abjures Jessica.
SHYLOCK: What, are there masques? hear you me, Jessica, Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum And the vile squeaking of the wry-necked fife, Clamber not you up to the casement then, Nor thrust your head into the public street To gaze upon Christian fools with varnished faces, (2.5.28)

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice This is followed by Shylocks words as he leaves his house,
Do as I bid you. Shut doors after you, fast bind, fast find, A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.

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Shylock once more confounds his treasure and his daughters virginity.

THE IRONY OF OPPROBRIUM


Both playwrights take some time to justify the mutual hostility between Christians and Jews. Marlowe, a bit out of character considering the crudeness of his comedy, seems to work more than Shakespeare in developing his justifications, although Shakespeare is the more subtle.

Jew of Malta
Ferneze, demanding money from the Jewish community, tells Barabas that they will be treated not equally as citizens, but as infidels.
FERNEZE: For through our sufferance of your hateful lives, Who stand accursed in the sight of heaven, These taxes and afflictions are befalln ... Jew of Malta 1.2.64

This is immediately followed by a minor character laying out the traditional accusation that the Jews are at once accursed and too successful.
1 KNIGHT: From naught at first thou camst to a little wealth, From little unto more, from more to most: If your first curse fall heavy on the head, And make thee poor and scornd of all the world, 'Tis not our fault, but thy inherent sin. Jew of Malta 1.2.116

The Merchant of Venice


Shakespeare belabors Shylock from all sides. Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano, Lancelot, Jessica, Portia, Nerissa and the Duke all take their turns with a repeated message not much different from Marlowes for Barabas. There is, however, at least one passage that shows the different paths the two playwrights took. Antonio, responding to the Duke at the start of the courtroom scene, says,
ANTONIO: I have heard Your Grace hath taen great pains to qualify His rigorous course : but since he stands obdurate, And that no lawful means can carry me Out of his envys reach, I do oppose My patience to his fury, and am armd

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To suffer with a quietness of spirit, The very tyranny and rage of his. (4.1.7)

The word obdurate is loaded with significance. It had been used for centuries by the Church to encapsulate the rejection of Christ by the Jews, but in more recent times it had been thrown as a dart against Catholics by Protestants, and against Protestants by Catholics. Obdurate Catholic and obdurate Protestant appear repeatedly in the polemics of the sixteenth century. Antonios short speech describes the travail of the Protestant martyrs under Mary I, as well as the Catholics under Elizabeth I. Martyrs of both Confessions saw no lawful way to practice their religion. Both rulers made sure their subjects knew how much they tried to reason with these heretics (technically, they were traitors so that the civil authorities could punish them), to no avail. The martyrs did suffer exactly as Shakespeare describes. Shakespeares audiences, if they gave it attention, would have been aware of all this. Shakespeares subtle irony is raised beyond what Marlowe achieved in his more blunt fashion.

THE OPPORTUNISTIC USE OF SCRIPTURE


Barabass skeptical outcry, What, bring you Scripture to confirm your wrongs? / Preach me not out of my possessions, is echoed three times in The Merchant of Venice. Antonio, using a doggerel-like phrasing, after a testy outburst of Shylock warns Bassanio,
ANTONIO: Mark you this Bassanio, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart. Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath. (1.3.93)

While this may at first seem directed at the well-known rabbinic predilection for Talmudic interpretation, it fits just as well the enthusiastic Puritan preaching of the time. This would be readily recognized by Shakespeares audience although it is likely missed by the modern ear. The ill-disciplined Gratiano returns to this theme when he assures Bassanio that he will be a model of feigned decorum when visiting Belmont. In this case, there is little doubt that the butt of the humor is Christianity.
GRATIANO: Signor Bassanio, hear me, If I do not put on a sober habit, Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice


Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely, Nay more, while grace is saying hood mine eyes Thus with my hat, and sigh and say Amen : Use all the observations of civility Like one well studied in sad ostent To please his grandam, never trust me more. (2.2.180)

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Bassanio speaks in the same way as he is deciding which of the three caskets to open to gain Portias hand in marriage. This time, the sense is less caustic and more contemplative.
BASSANIO: So may the outward shows be least themselves, The world is still deceivd with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt, But, being seasond with a gracious voice, Obscures the show of evil? In religion, What damnd error, but some sober brow Will bless it, and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair ornament : (3.2.73)

EPILOGUE
In an age when religion was more than merely important, Marlowes Jew of Malta has little on the surface to say about it, but just below the surface it does not hesitate to criticize self-satisfied, opportunistic religiosity. Notably different in style, Shakespeare and Marlowe shared this intolerance of hypocrisy. Do you think there is a Barabas hiding in Shylock's closet?

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20
SOURCES IL PECORONE ITALY COMES TO ENGLAND

Ser Giovanni Fiorentinos Il Pecorone is a book of charming stories written much in the style of The Decameron and published in 1378 shortly after Giovanni Boccaccios death. The title is variously translated as the dunce, the simpleton or like terms. The similarities between Il Pecorones Day 4 Story 1 and our play are extensive and detailed. The question that arises is whether Shakespeare did indeed use the story as a starting point, or whether story and play both refer to some earlier, now unknown source. For our purposes the answer doesnt matter, because we will be looking at how two authors developed the same ideas. The Day 4 Story 1 appears to be a basis for almost the entire loan and courtroom episodes, as well as for the characters of Antonio, Bassanio and Portia. Il Pecorones Jew, though, is a shadow of the human being that is Shakespeares Shylock. The bond is the same in story and play, but hardly original. It can be traced back to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century and thence popping up in various places. Sometimes it was associated with a Jew, but not always. The general setting was similar to what we have seen and its longevity attests to its popular reception. This is a fine example of Shakespeare using a reliable old saw to develop a play of remarkable subtlety and complexity. The two hundred years between the pieces show why Italy was considered by the English to be a rich source of stories, and why many aspiring English authors visited the country. There is no record of an English language publication of Il Pecorone in Shakespeares time. Nevertheless, there were translations of many Italian stories circulating in London in the sixteenth century, and there were perhaps hundreds of plays based on them during Elizabethan and Jacobean times. In any case, the Italian is straightforward and readable by anyone with a basic knowledge of the language. In 1580, the Englishman William Munday, who had been in Rome the year before, published his novel Zelauto, which is a direct take-off on the story from Il Pecorone and would have been readily available in London.

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DAY 4 STORY 1 AND THE SHYLOCK EPISODE


Il Pecorones merchant, Ansaldo, is a doting godfather; Shakespeares Antonio is an adoring friend. The object of Ansaldos attention is his godson Giannetto, who could be Bassanios twin. Ansaldo, we are asked to believe, is the wealthiest Christian merchant in Venice, just as Antonio is a royal merchant, that is, outstanding. Ansaldo foolishly acts to sumptuously outfit ships for three voyages by Giannetto. In spite of the young mans utter lack of success, Ansaldo bankrupts himself with the second and goes into debt on the third. These are more the acts of a senile old man than a successful merchant. Shakespeares Antonio has a more extended character and is consequently more interesting. There are a few clues in The Merchant of Venice that, in an explicit way, support a connection with Il Pecorone. As Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano enter Act One, Solanio says to Antonio, Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman (1.1.57). Nothing else is heard of this familial relationship. Another is Shylocks rant in Act Three, when he has learned that Antonios ships have been lost. Speaking to Solanio and Salerio, Shylock says, a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto, a beggar that was used to come so smug upon the mart (3.1.39). Shylock may be lumping all Christians together when he calls Antonio a prodigal, but this term is more appropriate for Ansaldos foolishness, or the carelessness of Giannetto or Bassanio, rather than for Antonios bad luck. In Il Pecorone, Giannettos playboy character is quickly established. We learn that his father, in his will, left his business and possessions in Florence to his two older sons. His bequest to Giannetto was to ship him off to Ansaldo in Venice for seasoning as a merchant. Everyone in Venice loves Giannetto, who lives for the day and has no intention of worrying about tomorrow. Bassanios similar character is revealed to us in his own opening speech in Act One Scene One, where he explains to Antonio that he has wasted his money, is in debt, and plans to find a rich wife to bail him out. Giannetto demonstrates that he is neither overly bright nor aboveboard. Shakespeares gold digger Bassanio fits this description well enough. Two friends of Giannetto propose to him that they make a trading voyage to Alexandria, each in his own ship. Giannetto gets Ansaldo to outfit one for him, and then mid-way through the voyage he hears about a rich widow in Belmonte (yes, the same name as in our play), sneaks off and sails into the port, whereupon he is a real hit with the important people. Il Pecorones ur-Portia is nameless, referred to only as the widow of Belmonte and later as Giannettos wife. She is more earthy than the virginal, but hardly innocent, Portia. She proposes to each mariner (one assumes this is restricted to the rich traders or noblemen) who happens upon her port city of Belmonte that he shall share her bed. Any man who satisfies her will become her husband; if he fails, he loses whatever he has brought

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with him. Instead of the momentary bawdy interest in the widows plan, Shakespeare uses the humor in the obnoxious suitors and the piquant courting of the two young lovers. He has integrated this with the Gesta Romanorums select-a-casket theme and produced an extended development of continuing dramatic interest. The widows plan is to provide her would-be lovers with drugged wine. Giannetto falls for this, sleeps through his opportunity and loses everything. Making his way back to Venice he makes up the story that he was shipwrecked just bad luck. The next trading season Giannetto repeats the whole episode, including getting Ansaldo to outfit another ship, drinking the drugged wine and forfeiting his ship and its contents. He then talks Ansaldo into funding a third trip, wherein the old man has to get a loan of 10,000 florins from the Jew of Maestri (otherwise unnamed). The only way Ansaldo will be able to pay back the loan is from the profits of Giannettos purported trip. In spite of the young mans previous bad luck, Ansaldo is happy to go into debt and agrees to a bond of a pound of his flesh taken from wherever the Jew chooses. Ansaldo says to Giannetto,
One favor I beg of you, which is, that if perchance you should again miscarry, you will return hither, so that I may see you again before I die; then I shall be content to depart.

Antonio, in his letter to Bassanio, says,


BASSANIO [reading]: . . . my bond to the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I, if I might see you at my death : notwithstanding, use your pleasure, if your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter. (3.2.315)

Giannettos third trip proves successful, but only because a maid servant warns him not to drink the wine. After receiving his reward of marriage he forgets about his godfathers predicament and whiles away the time at Belmonte in various social pleasures. This is, of course, almost the identical story in our play.

Why Did the Merchant Go To the Jew for a Loan?


Both works present a question: Why did the merchant go to the Jew for a loan? Why not to one of his countrymen? In the case of Il Pecorone one answer is particularly compelling (no, not just because thats where the money was) who else would make a loan to a doddering old fool whose aim is to make his irresponsible godson happy, and, added to that, on outfitting a third ship when two have already been lost? Shakespeare has created a more subtle situation. Here is what Antonio says, speaking to Bassanio.

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ANTONIO: Thou knowst that all my fortunes are at sea, Neither have I money, nor commodity To raise a present sum, therefore go forth, Try what my credit in Venice can do, That shall be racked even to the uttermost, To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia. Go presently enquire, and so will I Where money is, and I no question make To have it of my trust, or for my sake. (1.1.177)

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Antonio has made it a practice to lend money at no interest, disrupting the money-lending of the Jews of Venice. But now, when he needs a loan, all his friends, his fellow Christians, all the people to whom he had made loans, are silent and make no appearance. Tubal gives us reason to believe that Antonio is not so very financially sound when he says, There came divers of Antonios creditors in my company to Venice, that swear he cannot choose but break (3.1.103). It is Bassanio, whom we already suspect of not caring much about anyone except himself, who asks for a loan from the merchants arch-enemy. Shakespeare does not elaborate on the effort Antonio might have made. Once Bassanio has talked with Shylock, Antonio takes a self-sacrificing role in acquiescing to the loans conditions.

Saved in the Courtroom


Shakespeare makes the cause of Antonios predicament the reported losses of his ships, reports that turn out to be false. In fact, a Venetian merchant would most likely have been insured, but this is just a story. In both works, the merchant cannot pay his debt, the Jew claims his pound of flesh, the uncaring prodigal is galvanized into action by his new wife, and the situation is resolved in a courtroom. Giannettos wife sends him off to Venice and, just as Portia, unknown to her husband dons legal dress and heads for the city. The story goes on to say,
Over this matter there arose great debate, and everyone condemned the Jew; but, seeing that equitable law ruled in Venice, and that the Jews contract was fully set forth and in customary legal form, no one could deny him his rights; all they could do was to entreat his mercy.

The culmination of all this is the same as in our play. The disguised lady says, It simply gives you the right to take a pound of flesh, and says neither less nor more. Shakespeare did more with the ending of the scene, where Shylock is shown what the Duke, Antonio and Portia claim to be Christian mercy. In Il

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Pecorone the Jew vents and then disappears: Then the Jew, seeing that he could not have his will, took his bonds and cut them in pieces in his rage. The setting of both courtroom scenes is reminiscent of Acts in the New Testament. Here are some verses from the Geneva Bible. Notice that the basis for the judgment is the law, not mercy.
24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have called upon me, both at Jerusalem, and here, crying, that he ought not to live any longer. 25 Yet have I found nothing worthy of death, that he hath committed; nevertheless, seeing that he hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. 26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth unto you, and especially unto thee, King Agrippa, that after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. 27 For me thinketh it unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not to shew the causes which are laid against him. Acts 25 1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. So Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself. 2 I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer this day before thee of all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews. ... 30 And when he had thus spoken, the King rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them. 31 And when they were gone apart, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death, nor of bonds. Acts 26

This New Testament story is addressed to more serious ends and Paul is the featured lead. He, by his own doings and at risk to his life, travels on to Rome with a detour to Malta (which, incidentally, is where Marlowes play takes place). Shakespeares courtroom revolves around Christian mercy, amplifying it to create a series of memorable speeches for Portia, Shylock and the Duke. Shylock has such a speech, also, but its ironic or satiric content is forgotten by its listeners as soon as it is said. Did mercy jump off the page of the Il Pecorone story and say to the master playwright that here was a way to create something of beauty?

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COURTROOMS HERE, COURTROOMS THERE, WHERE IS THE REAL COURTROOM?


Thomas Wilson published his History of Italy, the first English language book on that subject, in 1549. In the manner of Venices government, he tells us there is a Duke (Doge) with office for life, but goes on to say in very deed his power is small. He reports that there are in addition three Signori Capi who actually have more power than the Duke, and can arrest him upon cause. The third leg of the government was the Great Council, which Wilson calls the whole stay of their commonwealth. While a simplification of a much more complex reality, this is what was available in print to the English. Wilson also provides a description of law making and the judiciary. Most pertinent to our play he states all matters are determined by the judges' consciences and not by the civil nor yet by their own laws. Further, there are several judges in every court and judgment is strictly on a majority ballot. Wilsons remark was founded in fact, as the Venetian concept of civil law was different from that of the English. In Venice it was a matter of equity and the application of abstract ideals and the decisions in previous cases. A contract such as that at the heart of the story would have been invalid, at least because it would offend Scripture. Somewhat incidentally, it would also have been invalid in English courts because of its inequitable nature. If the Il Pecorone story was amusing to Italians familiar with Venetian justice, it may have been plausible to English audiences, as long as it happened in Venice. Shakespeare took dramatic liberties with the old story as well as the judicial practices of Venice. In the quick brush strokes of the story, the doctor of laws is the center of the action which more or less takes place in a vague courtroom. In our play the Duke, while out of place in factual terms and not at all in the story, appears along with the doctor of laws to the end of creating dramatic interest. Although not mentioned by Wilson, it was a practice in some parts of Italy to have traveling judges, which would validate the ploy used by both the widow and Portia. Adding to all this story-telling is that the law of Venice was different from that of Rome, and English travelers were more apt to have visited Rome than Venice. As in so many other instances in his thirty-six or seven plays, Shakespeare the playwright momentarily becomes an alchemist and transmutes an amalgam of stories, reports and histories into gold.

The Rings
Yes, there is a ring in the story, developed in much the same way as in the play. Giannettos disguised wife insists on his wedding ring in return for her saving Ansaldo from death.

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ANSALDO: It shall be as you wish, but I give you this ring somewhat unwillingly, for my wife gave me the same, saying that I must always keep it out of love for her. Now, were she to see me without the ring, she would deem that I had given it to some other woman, and would be wroth with me, and believe I had fallen in love otherwhere, but in sooth I love her better than I love myself.

Bassanio, in the same predicament, says,


BASSANIO: Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife, And when she put it on, she made me vow That I should neither sell, nor give, nor lose it. (4.1.437)

Giannetto does not protest much and gives up the ring. Bassanio at first refuses but then at the behest of Antonio yields the ring to Portia. Shakespeares treatment is more complex and interesting, more an inspection of motive and character.

EPILOGUE
Is Shakespeares Antonio more believable than Fiorentinos Ansaldo? The loan is a commercial transaction, and the play is about the ways in which people value money. Is Antonios self-sacrificing self-image as selfconsistent as Ansaldos senility? In the Il Pecorone story the loan was to Ansaldo for what the old man believed to be commercial purposes. The truth of the matter was that Giannettos initial intent was to trade for profit, but subsequently, and hidden from Ansaldo, he wanted to marry the widow of Belmonte. In our play the loan is to the merchant Antonio for Bassanios use, not for commerce, but for show so that he can acquire a rich wife. The fabric of both plots are deception, narcissism and moral weakness. Both authors make these difficult pills easy to swallow. Is Shakespeare, in sixteenth century England, holding up for inspection the conflict between the world of commerce and the world of Christian caritas?
Mat. 5:20 For I say unto you, except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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21
SOURCES GESTA ROMANORUM AND THE CASKETS

There is a plausible source for the casket scene, so much a part of this comedy. It is found in the Gesta Romanorum, a collection of tales intended for use by monks in their preaching, probably brought together in the late thirteenth century. Scenes such as the casket choice appear in other places, but the Gesta Romanorums casket inscriptions are so similar to Shakespeares that it is difficult to deny a connection of some sort. The rather convoluted story in chapter XCIX is of an earnest and goodhearted girl, daughter of a king, put to a test by the emperor whose son she would marry. En route to meet the emperor, she is shipwrecked and swallowed by a whale, saved and taken to the emperor. He, not satisfied with the trials she had already undergone, challenges her to select one of three vessels. One is gold, the second is silver, the third is lead. The girl correctly chooses the third on the basis that, without doubt, God never disposeth any harm. Shakespeare forgoes the girl in the whale for a more subtle and romantic story.

THREE RULERS AND A BOOK OF RULES


Keeping in mind that our play was launched in the 1590s, the caskets in The Merchant of Venice make for an intriguing trio. There had been three of Henry VIIIs children become ruler. The first was a boy, golden in the eyes of Englishmen, but doomed to a short life. The second was Mary, greeted with hope but also with some trepidation, bringing back the Old Church and becoming herself suspicious and soon spent. The last was the plainest, as Elizabeth had led a quiet childhood staying out of the way of the deadly forces playing out about her. Through her many years as queen she became the right choice in the minds of the majority Protestants and to a large extent of the Catholics. Why Shakespeare did this or that is for fanciful speculation; to what end is more concrete. I suggest that the Gesta Romanorum story was like a gimme idea to a comic or a two-foot putt to a professional golfer. He was delivered a winner that would be comedic, gentle and enjoyed by his

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audience. The caskets in the story bear different legends than those in the play. Here are the original and Shakespeares.
Gesta Romanorum Whoso chuseth me, shall find what he deserveth. Whoso chuseth me, shall find that his nature desireth. Whoso chuseth me, shall find that God hath disposed for him. Gold Silver Lead The Merchant of Venice Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire. Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves. Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he has.

Now what do you think Shakespeare accomplished by this shuffling (if that is indeed what he did)? Here is my suggestion. Edward VI was what many men desired a male heir to the throne. As for Mary I, Catholics received her, and looked back on her, with delight; Protestants fled from her and reviled her memory. Elizabeth I was unknown until she took the throne; no one could be sure what would happen. There are other ways to interpret these three caskets and the PortiaBassanio story. One comes from Deuteronomy, itself a book of rules, specifically where Moses delivers the commandments (from the Geneva Bible).11
Behold, I have set before thee this day life & good, death and evil/ . . . But if thine heart turn away, so that ye wilt not obey, but shalt be seduced & worship other gods, and serve them,/ I pronounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish. . . . / Therefore chose life, that both thou & thy seed may live./ By loving the Lord thy God, by obeying his voice, & by cleaving unto him: For he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayst dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto thy fathers. Deut. 30:15

It may be that the old monks would have found their story a useful educational tool to illustrate the choices put to mankind. It also may be that Shakespeare saw this tale playing double duty, adding to the interest of the play to its Elizabethan audiences. There is a problem when this is melded with the Il Pecorone story and Antonio shows up. Antonio does not choose life, nor does he procreate. Whether any of this made any difference to Shakespeare can only be answered in terms of the dramatic impact of the play, and that you will have to decide for yourself. The plays setting is different from the storys in significant ways. I suggest that in addition to simply using the caskets Shakespeare has done something subtle that would have been recognized by his audiences. In order to illuminate this we need to revisit Elizabeth Is reign, but first, we need to
11

B. Lewalski makes this point.

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PROVIDENCE
There has been considerable academic discussion about the exact words and phrasing of the initial exchanges between Portia and Nerissa in Act One Scene Two. While I will avoid the minutiae of these efforts, there is a lot going on in those few lines.
PORTIA: . . . but this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband : O me, the word choose, I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father : is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none. NERISSA: Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations, therefore the lottery that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning, chooses you, will no doubt never be chosen by any rightly, but one who you shall rightly love. (1.2.20)

Nerissas prediction is that providence will act rightly, the lottery is a holy inspiration, and that the right man will make the right choice. Portias understanding of this is confirmed later, after all the other suitors have either fled or failed and Bassanio is about to make his selection.
PORTIA: Away then, I am lockd in one of them, If you do love me, you will find me out. (3.2.40)

Now it is time to look at Queen Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH, THE VIRGIN QUEEN


The title of virgin queen was not one that anyone expected would become committed to history. The continuation of the Tudor line needed male heirs, and Elizabeth was the only one left to produce them. It turned out that circumstances, her desire for independence and her age (she was twenty-five when she became queen) put an end to the line, but not before much ado about possible matches. She was courted by European nobility soon after she became queen, but rejected these even as they were insistent. In 1579 there was a protracted negotiation with the Duke of Alenon, brother to the king of France, which had been initiated a few years before but had gone nowhere. Elizabeth eventually rejected this match at considerable financial cost to assuage Alenons honor and with the considerable relief of the English nobility. There were other possibilities but in the end, the Queen remained

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alone. Portia is subject to requirements laid upon her by her deceased father, which she accepts although not without recognizing the burden they place upon her. Elizabeth I as queen was subject to a similarly abstracted authority, that of the good of the state (at least insofar as that was conceived by various competing interests). She also had to contend with the very real memory of her father and of the reformation he had begun. Elizabeth appeared to have learned a lesson from her father and insisted on a personal interview with any serious suitor (although no one but her saw anything attractive in Alenon). Early in the play Nerissa mentions to Portia that a scholar, and a soldier had visited Belmont some time ago. Portia responds, I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise (1.2.114). Henry VIII had married Anne of Cleves for reasons of state, but quickly divorced the lady whom he found profoundly unappealing after meeting her when it was too late to turn back. Anne received an amicable settlement, leaving with her head still on her shoulders. We already know that Bassanio is a gold-digger, a manipulator and unreliable, yet we suspect that he is nice enough at heart. As the play unfolds, we see that Portia is his superior in intellect and regardless of his title as husband she will run the household and Belmont. Queen Elizabeth knew that all her suitors would be looking for dynastic advantage and that she would never be able to take anything they said at face value. Shakespeares Court audiences could have seen Portia as a kindly nod to the Queen, not at all making fun of her (a fatal thing to do) but sharing her loneliness as ruler.

A CATALOG OF NATIONAL TYPES


In a more lighthearted mood, Portia pokes fun at her inept suitors, characterizing them according to their nationalities. Moroccon, Aragononese, Neopolitan, County Palatine, French, Scottish, and German are deftly disposed of. Her English would-be husband is described in what must have evoked appreciative laughter.
PORTIA [to Nerissa] You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me, nor I him : he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian . . . how oddly he is suited, I think he has bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior every where. (1.2.65)

Shakespeare seems to have borrowed this description from The Boke of the Introduction to Knowledge, an armchair traveler book by Andrew Boorde (or Borde) published around 1542, although Boorde was hardly alone in being critical of his countrymen. This genre was quite popular in an age when new worlds were being unveiled. Boordes was a bit more humorous

A Companion to The Merchant of Venice than others, and in it he begins his description of the English.
I am an English man, and naked I stand here, Musyng in my mynde what rayment I shal were; For now I wyll were thys, and now I wyl were that; Now I wyl were I cannot tel what. All new fashyons be plesaunt to me; I wyl haue them, whether I thryue or thee. . . .

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Several other of the national types described by Boorde are similar to those expressed by Portia, perhaps demonstrating the extent of Shakespeares voracious reading and his adeptness at recalling useful passages. Shakespeare introduces Morocco and Aragon into the tale, creating pleasing comic interludes. It is easy to see these two failed suitors as proxies embodying Islam and Catholicism, the two competing alternatives to Protestantism.

EPILOGUE
Is the connection between the caskets in the old story and those in the play anything more than coincidence? Can you imagine yourself in the audience with Queen Elizabeth your ruler? What does all this show us about the originality of this playwright?

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22
SOURCES 12 READING THE TWO TESTAMENTS

There have been substantial changes in Christian-Jewish relations since the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the view of sixteenth century Christians that there was an intimate, although debatable relationship between Old and New Testament had been around for over a millennium and is still present today. Antonio calls Shylock obdurate (4.1.8), a frequent epithet for the Jews (as it was for Christians of opposing confessions), who it was believed stubbornly refused to accept the obvious truths in the New Testament and clung to the carnal reading of the Old. Within that framework the English knew, or thought they knew, that the Jews have never been grafted onto the stock of other people. That separation of Christians and Jews is expressed by Antonio and Shylock as they engage in a kind of angry dance. It is repeated, too, as the play shows that Jessica will never be fully accepted as a Christian. Lorenzo, Gratiano and the clown Lancelot look askance at Shylocks daughter no matter how she seeks their approval. A good portion of the energy of the play is in these contorted interactions. Moreover, this was the Age of Confessionalism, when otherness was seen even between the different varieties of Christianity. What to do about the Protestant immigrants who came to England to avoid persecution on the Continent? What about Catholics? Could they ever be trusted? Bad enough that Mary Is husband had been a Catholic Spaniard; at least he had left quietly prior to her death. There was a broader question that concerned many Englishmen: what was Englishness? Who was a stranger and who was an Englishman? What to do about the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish? These questions of religious and cultural identity, of who the other is and how to treat them continue to have currency throughout the modern world. In this chapter I shall look at various characters through the lens of biblical passages and interpretations. These are all merely possibilities. It is up to you to reach your own conclusions as long as you can support them using the text of the play. Keep in mind that Shakespeare's audiences were
12 Much of what I discuss here is informed by B. Lewalski. Although I have reservations about some of the conclusions reached therein, as well as about certain of the critical formulations that serve as their premise, I am grateful for the observations made and use some herein.

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Christians, almost entirely Protestants, with hardly any interest in or knowledge of the plight of Jews whether in Italy or England. Shylock is not a real Jew any more than the Duke is a real Doge. What the characters in this play say and do is at one level comedy, caricature and the playwright's license to do what he will, while at another level irony and moral challenge.

THE PROBLEM OF ANTONIO


Antonio may at first seem a reasonably straightforward character. He is a merchant and he has a strong emotional attachment to Bassanio. He may be the embodiment of Christian love that involves giving and forgiving. Or he may not. Theres no reason to expect the play to resolve this ambiguity. There is more to think about, more of ourselves to see if answers remain our own to discover. Speaking of merchants brings to mind as a central Biblical text Matthew 6:19-21 and 31-33. Whether this is to be read literally or metaphorically is up to you.
Lay not up treasures for your selves upon the earth, where the moth and canker corrupt, & where thieves dig through, and steal./ But lay up treasures for your selves in heaven. . . . / For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also/ . . . Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewith shall we be clothed?/ . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, & all these things shall be ministered unto you?

Antonio protests to Salerio and Solanio that his merchandise is safe,


ANTONIO: My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place ; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortunes of this present year : Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad. (1.1.42)

He has laid up treasures and he thinks he has planned well. He seems to have foregone insurance, although it was available in the real Venice as well as in Shakespeares England. Is there a subtle theological matter here? Does Antonio believe that God has control of every event so that insurance would be an expression of a lack of faith? Or is Shakespeare just skipping over insurance altogether just as it was omitted from the Il Pecorone story? At any rate, the trouble Antonio runs into when his ships appear to be lost is based on poor information. By the end of the play he knows that all his problems with Shylock could have been avoided if he had just been aware of the actual state of things (or if Bassanio had been a faithful friend). Moving on to the end of the play, Portia gives Antonio a letter telling of

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ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living ; For here I read for certain that my ships Are safely come to road. (5.1.286)

It was Portias intellect and action that saved his life, and now it is through her that he learns his means to living is secured. Does his life and living sound like what Shylock said: you take my life / When you do take the means whereby I live (4.1.372)? In what ways might the merchant and the money-lender be the same and different? Is living merely day to day existence or is it the spiritual life? Is there any appeal to Matthew or thanks to God? Could it be that Shakespeare has led us to those last lines of Antonio as an ironic joke? You will have to decide.

THE PROBLEM FOR SHYLOCK


In Shylocks first scene he asks Bassanio to arrange for him to speak with Antonio regarding the requested loan. Bassanio invites him to dine with them, and Shylock responds,
SHYLOCK: Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into : I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following : but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. (1.3.29)

Shylock this complex character created by Shakespeare demonstrates his familiarity with the New Testament by referring to the miracle of the demoniacs that appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He uses the charged word conjured and avoids using Jesus, to infer that this miracle is no more than charlatanry. While he speaks with something of a chip on his shoulder, the dietary laws in Deuteronomy give Shylock no choice about sharing dinner. This short speech, though, does portend what the play will soon reveal: Jessica utterly dismissing any prohibitions and gladly dining with Christians. Immediately after this Shylock makes an aside to the audience, expressing his dislike for Antonio in no uncertain terms. Shylock here is perhaps as much a stick figure caricature as anywhere in the play.
SHYLOCK [aside]: How like a fawning publican he looks. I hate him for he is a Christian : But more, for that in low simplicity He loans out money gratis, and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice, If I can catch him once upon the hip,

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I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation, and he rails Even there where merchants most do congregate, On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift Which he calls interest : Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him. (1.3.36)

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Shakespeare (or Shylock) covers a lot of ground here. The reference to publican in the Biblical sense was to a tax collector. It is a New Testament term occurring in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Geneva Bible annotation tells us, These did take to farm the taxes, tolls, and other payments, and therefore were greatly in disdain with all men. Shylocks remark is especially telling because publican occurs multiple times in the The Holy Gospel of Christ According to Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. In Matthew 5:46-7 Jesus says For if ye love them, which love you, what reward shall you have? Do not the Publicans even the same? And if ye be friendly to your brethren only, what singular thing do ye? Do not even the Publicans likewise? Matthew makes the point that he was himself a publican in Matt. 10:3, sharpening Shylocks sarcasm. Shylock goes further into the Old Testament when he talks about catching Antonio upon the hip, an expression used in wrestling. It calls to mind Genesis 32:24 where Jacob wrestles with an angel. Shylock seems to be on a Jacob roll. (Bassanio and Gratiano have theirs but on Jason and the Golden Fleece.) He soon launches into a convoluted justification for charging interest based on the story of Jacob and his uncle Laban, also in Genesis. The attentive listener may see Shylock at one level a caricature, while on another a keen opponent. However, there is (or may be) more to the Jacob story than first appears. It can be read in its typological interpretation as Gods transfer of favor away from the Jews (the first born) to the Christians. Shylock clings to the story much in the way as, in the minds of the play's Christians, the Jews cling to the Old Testament. Antonio responds appropriately to Shylocks ruminations, saying, This was a venture sir that Jacob servd for, / A thing not in his power to bring to pass, / But swayd and fashiond by the hand of heaven (1.3.86). Antonio follows that with his Garden of Eden speech, warning of the snakes plotting that led to the Fall. Lancelot plays a role, too, later in Act Two Scene Two where he tricks Gobbo, his blind father (just as Isaac was blind). Shylock doesnt have only the Christians to deal with, he also has his daughter Jessica. Not only has she flown with his jewels and cash, but she has (or intends to) convert. She will be an apostate, and we suspect that her reason is not some preference for Christianity but a release from the oppressive home of her father. However, while she may escape Shylocks shuttered house, she will not escaped the suspicion of her Christian

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companions. Shylocks frenzied anger at her, where he wants her dead at my foot is because of her theft. He says not a word about her apostasy but she would be dead to him if she converted. Has Shylock's torment so compromised his judgment that he is doomed in the courtroom? In the courtroom the play is thoroughly entangled with the Bible. To look at only some of Shylocks lines is enough to show the conundrum Shakespeare creates for him. Before Portia arrives Shylock sarcastically challenges his Christian opponents in his speech about slavery. His argument is based on the Sermon on the Mount, on what we now call the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12), a digest of what the Law and the Prophetes taught in the Old Testament. He is completely ignored. Is Shylock suggesting that these Christians say one thing and practice another? In response to Portias The quality of mercy speech, Shylock says, My deeds upon my head, I crave the law, / The penalty and forfeit of my bond (4.1.202). This is analogous to the scene in Matthew 27:25 where Pilate asks What then shall I do with Jesus? Pilate finally says to the assembled Jews, Look unto you and then follows answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Shylock continues his dual role as an individual and the stand-in for all Jews, in this instance with the Duke as a just-minded, if irritated Pilate. To what extent do you think this analogy depends on Antonio being in some sense a guileless man about to be sacrificed? How do you see this in the light of modern scholarship that sees Pilate as the brutal administrator of a collection of querulous factions, holding them in check with a greatly outnumbered army and tenuous alliances? When Shylock thinks that Portia has justified his claim to the bond, he exclaims, A Daniel come to judgment : yea a Daniel (4.1.219). He refers here to the story of Daniel and Susanna, which at the time was part of the Apocrypha or sometimes the thirteenth chapter of the book of Daniel. In this story Daniel defended a friendless, weak person against powerful but corrupt elders. It is no wonder that upon Shylocks defeat Gratiano is vindictive. He taunts the money-lender, saying A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew and A Daniel still I say, a second Daniel, / I thank thee Jew for teaching me that word (4.1.336). Here is Shakespeare once again presenting a highly ambiguous moral setting, one that has implied violence stemming from a popolo minuto aligned with the socially powerful. Are there also echoes of the taunting of Christ? Is Gratiano expressing the kind of pay-back that motivated so much of anti-Jewish feeling?

THE PROBLEM OF LIVING IN ACCORD WITH MATTHEW


There is nothing simplistic about Shylock's role or his plight. While he

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can be sarcastic he also is the exemplar of Matthew 6:19-21. Not only does he have his wealth stolen by his daughter, but it is wrested from him by the state. He loses Jessica, who should love him, and he loses his means to live: you take my life / when you take the means whereby I live (4.1.372). This is foreshadowed just prior to Shylock and Antonio first meeting. It is then that Shylock says there be land rats, and water rats, water thieves and land thieves, I mean pirates (1.3.20). He is talking about Antonio's potential losses but in his own terms of possessions being of paramount importance. Shylock is not the only one attached to possessions. Antonio is a merchant and while he says my merchandise makes me not sad (1.1.45), it is not because he has found higher values but because all his mercantile eggs are not in one basket. Indeed, Act One Scene Three lays out part of difficulty in living in accord with Matthew's injunctions. Shylock and Antonio exchange contempt in their fractured dance. Antonio sums it up succinctly: I am as like to call thee so [dog] again, / To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too (1.3.124). Shylock is a man of the Old Testament and Antonio of the New. In Act One Scene Three Antonio is failing to live in accordance with the Gospel according to Matthew. Will he redeem himself by the end of the play?

ON TO ST. PAUL

13

Does Antonio suggest St. Paul? He has been shown to be a good friend, willing to risk a great deal for Bassanio. It is in Act Two Scene Eight that the Paul-like qualities of his character begin to emerge from this close and effusive friendship.
SALERIO: A kinder gentleman treads not the earth, I saw Bassanio and Antonio part, Bassanio told him he would make some speed Of his return : he answered, do not so. Slubber not business for my sake Bassanio, But stay the very riping of the time, And for the Jews bond which he hath of me, Let it not enter in your mind of love : Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts To courtship, and such fair ostents of love As shall conveniently become you there. (2.8.35)

However, there is a problem with this: Salerio speaks it. We already have the feeling that he and his friend Solanio are partial to Antonio in whatever they say. There must be something more reliable. In the very short Act Three Scene Three, Antonio asks Shylock to hear him so that they can settle the debt outside the court. Shylock brusquely refuses and Antonio states for the first but not the last time that he wants
13 Based on work by R.C. Hassel, Jr.

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above all for Bassanio to be present in his final moments.


ANTONIO The duke cannot deny the course of law : For the commodity that strangers have With us in Venice, if it be denied, Will much impeach the justice of the state, Since that the trade and profit of the city Consisteth of all nations. Therefore go, These griefs and losses have so bated me, That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh To-morrow, to my bloody creditor. Well jailor, on. Pray God Bassanio come To see me pay his debt, and then I care not. (3.3.26)

Is there irony in that the only thing Antonio and Shylock appear to agree on is the course of the law and justice in Venice? There actually is more, but we dont see it clearly until Antonios last words at the end of the final act. When speaking of Paul there is no avoiding Romans, to which a reference occurs early in the play. This is when Portias opening speech is quickly followed by If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do (1.2.12). On the one hand her speech is a clutter of aphorisms. On the other it brings to the front Pauls conundrum,
For I know, that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but I find no means to perform that which is good. For I do not the good thing, which I would, but the evil, which I would not, that do I. Romans 7:18-19

But one focus of Romans is the role of the Jews in Gods plan for the world and Pauls commitment to their redemption. For the sake of its commentary the 1560 Geneva Bible is worth quoting here.
3 (*) For I would wish myself to be (a) () separate from Christ, for my brethren that are my kinsmen according to the (b) flesh, (*) Acts 9:2; 1 Corinthians 15:8. (a) The Apostle loved his brethren so entirely, that if it have been possible, he would have been ready to have redeemed the casting away of the Israelites, with the loss of his own soul forever; for this word separate, betokeneth as much in this place. () He would redeem the rejection of the Jews with his own damnation, which declareth his zeal toward Gods glory, read Exodus 32:32. (b) Being brethren by flesh, as of one nation and country.

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4 Which are the Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the (c) () glory, and the (*) (d) Covenants, and the giving of the (e) Law, and the (f) service of God, and the (g) promises. (c) The ark of the covenant, which was a token of Gods presence. () The Ark of the covenant, because it was a sign of Gods presence, was called Gods glory, 1 Samuel 4:21; Psalm 26:8. (*) Romans 2:17; Ephesians 2:12. (d) The tables of the covenant; and this is spoken by the figure Metonymy [a figure of speech], Deuteronomy 11:9. (e) Of the judicial Law. (f) The ceremonial Law. (g) Which were made to Abraham and to his posterity. Romans 9:3-4

Shakespeare has presented his Christian audience with a humanized Jew who clings to the law and a merchant who would emulate Christ but cannot forgo being spiteful and self-absorbed. Has he created within this comedy a reminder to see beyond appearances and prejudgment, and to closely read the Word of God?

NO PROBLEMS FOR PORTIA


Portia is ready and able to address any problem in her life, as well as in Bassanios once they are married. Her quality of mercy speech is as beautiful and as rich in interpretations as others of Shakespeares majestical passages. Critics suggests that the line It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven (4.1.179) is reminiscent of Ecclesiasticus 35:19 in the Old Testament. This book, also called The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, is part of the Apocrypha. The words are Oh, how faire a thing is mercie in the time of anguish and trouble! It is like a cloude of raine, that cometh in the time of a drought. Portia's simile is also reminiscent of Deuteronomy 32:2, My doctrine shall drop as the rain. As the editors of the New Variorum edition of The Merchant of Venice said at the end of the nineteenth century in reference to this speech, In view of Shakespeares myriad-mindedness, our wonder is not there are so many [resemblances to Scripture], but that there are no more. Portias defeat of Shylock is based on a technicality in the law. This evokes Pauls enjoinder that by the workes of the Law shal no flesh be justified in His sight (Rom. 3:12). Shylocks Is that the law? is one of Shakespeares most concise lines. Does Shylock see what Paul would have him see, that the law is inadequate? Does it seem that Portia set out from the start of her plan to teach Shylock as a stand-in for all Jews that the New Testament rather than the Old is the way to heaven?

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JESSICA AS PARABLE
Some of the actions of Jessica and Lorenzo seem arbitrary or obscure. Why does Jessica go back for a second helping of money and jewels? Why does Lorenzo call her wise and true as she is absconding with her fathers treasure? I suggest to you (but I do not claim any originality) a plausible context recognizable to Shakespeare's Bible-literate audience, one that is found in the Book of Exodus. Suppose Jessica has the role of the Israelites, Lorenzo that of Moses, and Shylock plays Pharaoh. Jessica is oppressed by Shylock and wants to escape. Lorenzo loves her and promises that he will not fail her. Jessica prepares to flee, taking a portion of Shylocks treasure and, indeed, returns for a second helping. Does such an interpretation seem farfetched? Well, plays tell stories, and Shakespeare was a master playwright. The Bible tells stories, too, some in a straightforward way, others in parables. The place of parables in the Bible has been controversial since very early in the Churchs existence. Marks attempted clarification of their role (Mark 4:11-12) was perhaps an unintended gift for secular writers as it is difficult to understand in itself. In Exodus the removal of a portion of the treasure of the Egyptians is understandable. The Israelites had been oppressed for four hundred and thirty years and felt quite justified in getting compensated. By analogy, Jessicas treatment by Shylock provides reason for her actions. In Exodus there are three mentions of the Israelites receiving treasure from the Egyptians (Ex. 3:22, 11:3 and 12:35-6), although the first two seem to be in preparation for the last. This can account for Jessicas otherwise mean-spirited return for more. As Jessica is gathering the treasure, Lorenzo makes a rather odd speech,
LORENZO: Beshrew me but I love her heartily. For she is wise, if I can judge of her, And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, And true she is, as she hath provd herself : And therefore like her self, wise, fair, and true, Shall she be placed in my constant soul. (2.6.52)

Is he saying that because she has faithfully carried out her part of their bargain, that is, leaving with him to be married and to convert, then she is wise and true. Perhaps it is the context of stealing from a Jew that makes his statement justifiable, but its crassness is more befitting of Gratiano. There is, though, a biblical context in which his characterization of her as wise, fair and true may make sense. In Exodus we could if we were willing to stretch a bit see Jessica directed by Lorenzo to trick Shylock into yielding his treasure.

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35 And the children of Israel did according to the saying of Moses, and they asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment. 36 And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they granted their request. So they spoiled the Egyptians. Exodus 12:35-6

Next, Jessica is embarrassed that she has to wear male dress and take part in a torch-lit parade. This parallels the Israelites having left captivity with the men fully armed, and Yahweh providing a pillar of fire at night to guide them. The parade is more or less analogous to Exodus 13,
21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might go both by day and by night. Exodus 13:21

Jessicas hesitance about proceeding, with Lorenzo reassuring her, resembles Exodus 14,
12 Did not we tell thee this thing in Egypt, saying, Let us be in rest, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 14:13 Then Moses said to the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and behold the salvation of the Lord which he will shew to you this day. For the Egyptians whom ye have seen this day, ye shall never see them again. Exodus 14:12-3

Exodus has further currency in the play. In Lorenzos last lines, almost at the end of the play he says, Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way / Of starved people (5.1.293). Exodus 16 tells us that Moses assured the Israelites that the Lord would provide manna. There were conditions, though. They should gather only what they needed, and they should not reserve it for the next day. There were those who did reserve it, and for them it was full of worms, and it stank (Exod. 16:20). This reinforces the underlying theme of acquisition and possession that is so much a part of the males in this play, who grasp for more than they need for sustenance. It is perhaps only Lancelot who seeks only food and clothing. However, even he seeks more female company than he needs. The young couple leave Venice by sea, escaping the search undertaken by Shylock. While the searchers are not drowned (this being a comedy), they are confounded. When next we see Jessica and Lorenzo they are received in Belmont, land of milk and honey. Theres no interval of forty years and Lorenzo is part of the gang, so perhaps there is nothing to the analogy. Its up to you to decide.

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EPILOGUE
The Gospel according to Matthew is an integral, inseparable part of this play. Who among the characters of this play lives up to those high standards? What is the difference between the Jew of the Old Testament and the Christians of the New? What was the difference between the Catholics and the Protestants of that time that they would be at each other's throats? There is no evidence that Shakespeare undertook to convince anyone of anything to do with religion in his plays. Even King Lear, the most Christian of his plays, communicates the human condition through the development of its characters and the tragic situations they create for themselves rather than through some kind of sermonizing. Shakespeare never preached, and he never showed us so much of himself that he left any stamp on his plays except as a dramatist. That statement can be (and has been) challenged. Do you find evidence of a politically or religiously-motivated Shakespeare? How does your opinion affect your reading of Shakespeares plays?

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Part V READ THIS LAST


I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison." Benjamin Franklin, his final speech at the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. The Talmud tells us that by saving a single human being, man can save the world. We may be powerless to open all the jails and free all the prisoners, but by declaring our solidarity with one prisoner, we indict all jailers. None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims. Elie Weisel, Nobel Lecture, 1986 The Nobel Foundation 1986.

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23
READ THIS LAST
The essence of our experience is our haunting sense of what doesnt fit the thesis we are tempted at every moment to derive. If one hallmark of an authentic work of art and a central sense of its power is its ability to drive us to search out its central mystery, another way may be its ultimate irreducibility to a schema. Norman Rabkin, Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning, 1981

What is this play about? And why is it so hard to answer that simple question? This play is even hard to categorize. Polonius lays out the problem as he names the possible categories: tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comicalhistorical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited (Hamlet 2.2). Whatever the category may be, this play is about many things. We have seen in it money, contracts, love, choices, friendship, betrayal, and what others? There are many paths to follow beyond those traversed in this Companion. There are further connections to Scripture and to quite secular controversies of the day, and many more bawdy jokes. Each time it seems that Shakespeare has settled his attention on one subject he moves to another. Almost every scene is laden with multiple meanings. Nevertheless, the play has a unitary feeling to it. One question cannot be avoided: is this play anti-Semitic? That is just as complicated as asking what this play is about. The immediate answer is, yes, of course. It is obvious from Act One Scene Three to the end of the play that Shylock is ridiculed and Jessica is never entirely accepted. There may be other ways to ask this question that lead to more insightful answers. Is the play unremittingly, gratuitously, or one-dimensionally antiSemitic? Does it accept or reject its own anti-Semitism? How does this plays anti-Semitism compare with that expressed by Chaucer or Marlowe? In what ways is it a commentary on the attitudes between Christians of different confessions, with Jews merely a proxy? How can it be read in the context of the modern world? There is no way to respond to any, much less all, of these questions in just a few paragraphs. Let me, though, offer a few thoughts. As a comedy this play presents to an unthinking audience, or to one that already knows what it thinks and will accept no challenges, a regrettably effective Jewish

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stereotype. That audience would have enjoyed as well the public executions of Protestants under Mary I or of Catholics under Elizabeth I. However, the play is not unremitting in its insults and ridicule, for Shylock has a lot to say about Christian mercy and the lack of it. The play is to some extent gratuitous there are a lot of wise-cracks and undeserved insults. But Shylock, as well as Jessica, are not stick-figures. Shylock in particular continues to present profound challenges to directors and has engaged some of the greatest actors over the past several hundred years. It is difficult to portray a disagreeable miser who sees the only hope for his people in the laws, not the mercy of Venice, when at the same time he is anxious to carve up his enemy who got into this mess through the failure of the young fortune hunter he professes to love. It is not only this play, but Chaucers bigoted prioress in the Canterbury Tales and Marlowes frenetic Barabas in the Jew of Malta also engaged the highly charged topic of anti-Semitism. All three can be read as intensely crude, but they can also be read as character studies that raise profound challenges. All three share the same regrettable superficial appearance that leaves unthinking persons knowing they have found kindred souls in these writers. And all three present to thinking persons the irony and portrayals that can make literature and theater an illuminating experience. Irony pours out of The Merchant of Venice like ale from a tap. Commercial contracts and profits are central to it. Both Antonio and Shylock see money as essential to their happiness. The law of the imagined Venice defends the integrity of contracts, regardless of the rationality of their conditions. It takes a woman pretending to be a man to use a legalistic argument to defeat Shylock, who depended on the law. Lancelot, the clown, debates his conscience (a rare commodity in this play) and leaves Shylock for better food and clothes in Bassanio's service. Jessica debates not at all, but flees from her fathers home with as much money and jewels as she can grab. Lorenzo calls her wise, fair, and true and spends her money on entertainment for their honeymoon. Bassanio puts Antonio in jeopardy of losing his life in order to delude and marry a rich girl, although this girl wants him as much as he wants her. The elements of this play most often associated with it involve usury and the bond. But we know that while Shylock and Antonio (and Gratiano, too) argued about usury, Shylock avoids invoking it and chooses the inequitable pound of flesh. How does your memory deal with this? How do you think the memories of other more casual consumers of this play deal with this disjuncture? There is one other about that brings us full circle to the title of this book, Portia's line, I never did repent for doing good (3.4.10). This play is about both doing good and goodness, but much more so about the former, the verb. Each of the characters in this play tries to act good, to do good. Each has a point of view and each makes claims to justify her or his actions. And

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each fails to live up to the words of Matthew 5:38-48 that preface this book. At least Shylock has the excuse that he is not a Christian, but his actions taken on their own are far from entirely good.

NO EASY WAY OUT


Of all this play's characters it is only Bassanio, Shylock and Jessica who show any hint of sincere self-doubt. Bassanio gets over it not unexpectedly by giving himself up to Portia, and with good sense, because she will surely fix any mess he gets himself in. Jessica may find security through her tenuous relationships with Lorenzo and the other, and even more problematical, residents of Belmont. Shylock is alone, without friends or supporters. But this father and daughter, although forever estranged, continue to be linked by the sense of their fallibility and vulnerability. The stock and trade of The Merchant of Venice, its words, like stranger and obdurate, speak to the difficulties the English had in figuring out who was English. They as well had trouble accepting even their immigrant coreligionists into their company. But it is all too easy to concentrate on the obvious, on Shylock being Jewish, on the Catholics and Protestants being at each others throats. Whether it was Chaucer or Marlowe or Shakespeare, theres more to it than just parsing the circumstances of a particular time in English history. These authors remind us that there always have been the usand-them, the ins-and-outs. They also remind us that the human condition is one of imperfection, that immediate goals often usually trump higher aspirations. In his exploration of the characters in this play, Shakespeare gives us the opportunity to look into ourselves. How do we form opinions about people and how do those opinions change as we learn more about them? Can we detect our own motives and expectations and see how these affect our dealings with other people? Every once in a while a writer comes along and shines a bright light on these aspects of the human condition, not to show a pretty scene or to prove a point, but to illuminate the way for those who will take the time to understand.
PORTIA: It is almost morning, And yet I am sure you are not satisfied Of these events at full. Let us go in, And charge us there upon intergatories, And we will answer all things faithfully. (5.1.295)

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Bibliography and Index

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Selected Bibliography with Annotations


Adams, G.B., and H.M. Stephens, Select Documents of English Constitutional History, (New York, 1918). Includes First and Second Act of Repeal, and Revival of the Heresy Acts. Ascham, R., The Schoolmastere, Contains some critical remarks about fashion, although it is not of the armchair traveler genre. A fine source of information about contemporary pedagogical methods. Baker, H., The Wars of Truth, Cambridge: Harvard, (1952). Machiavelli so outraged men of all political persuasions that not until the Renaissance was nearly over did [Jean] Bodin dare to defend the sovereign state which had been a fait accompli for generations. Baker, W. and B. Vickers, eds., The Merchant of Venice, Thoemmes Continuum (2005). A collection of criticism from 1775 to 1939. Beckerman, B. Shakespeare's Dramatic Methods, in ed. J.F. Andrews, William Shakespeare: His Work (New York, 1985). Beer, B., Rebellion and Riot Popular Disorder in England during the Reign of Edward VI (Kent State Univ. Press, 1962). Useful reading for those interested in the tenor of the times. Bloom, H. Shakespeare The Invention of the Human, (New York, 1998). If you own only one book of Shakespeare criticism, this should be it. Bluestone, M. and N. Rabkin, ed., Shakespeare's Contemporaries (Englewood Cliffs, 1961). Boose, L.E., The Comic contract and Portias Golden Ring, Shakespeare Studies 20 (1988), 241-54. Borde, [sometimes Boorde] The Boke of the Introduction to Knowledge, reprinted 1814.

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Boughner, D.C., The Braggart on Renaissance Comedy, A Study in Comparative Drama from Aristophanes to Shakespeare (Minneapolis, 1954). Helpful information on a character type often used by Shakespeare. Bridenbaugh, C., Vexed and Troubled Englishmen 1590-1642 The Beginnings of the American People (London, 1967). Bullough, G., ed., Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, Volume I, Early Comedies, Poems, Romeo and Juliet, (London and New York, 1966). Collinson, P., Elizabethan Essays (London, 1994). All of Collinson's books are worth reading. Ehrenberg, R., Capital and Finance in the Age of the Renaissance (Fairfield, 1928). Eisenstein, E.L., The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge 1993). Much better to read this than to carry around vague impressions. Ellis, I.P., The Archbishop and the Usurers, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, XXI, No. 1, January 1970, 33-42. Elton, G.R., The Tudor Constitution (Cambridge, 1962). The Reformation Parliament met from 1529 to 1536. In 1533 an Act of Parliament described this Church of England: that part of the said body politic called the spirituality, now being usually called the English Church, which always hath been reputed and also found of that sort that both for knowledge, integrity and sufficiency of number, it hath always thought and is also at this hour sufficient and meet of itself, without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine all such doubts and to administer all such offices and duties as to their rooms spiritual doth appertain. Furness, H.H., ed., A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Lippincott, Philadelphia (1888). Reproductions of this entertaining and informative study are still in print (2007). Garber, M., Shakespeare After All, (New York, 2004). W. Haller, Foxes Book of Martyrs and the Elect Nation (London, 1963). Harrison, G.B., Elizabethan and Jacobean Journals 1591-1610 Volume II, A Second Elizabethan Journal, Being a Record of those Things Most Talked of During the Years 1591-1610 (London, 1999). An enjoyable way to find out

178 what was on the mind of Elizabethans.

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Harrison, G.B., ed. The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I. (New York, 1968), 181. London riots over high prices and dearth. Hassel, R.C. Jr., Which is the Christian Here, and Which the Jew? in ed. E.B. Batson, Shakespeare and the Christian Tradition (New York, 1994). Holmer, J.O., The Merchant of Venice: Choice, Hazard and Consequences, St. Martins (1995), Includes around 300 references and 55 pages of notes. Miles Mosses The Arraignment and Conviction of Vsurie (1595): A New Source for the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare Studies, 21 (1993), 11-54. A detailed discussion of the Jacob-Laban story in Shakespeare Hoskins, W.G., The Age of Plunder: The England of Henry VIII (London, 1976). The revenues of the Catholic Church in England, while not monolithic, may have been ten times that of the Crown. Hughes, P.L. and J.F. Larkin, ed.. Tudor Royal Proclamations (New Haven, 1964-69). Superb source of fascinating material. Hurstfield, J., The Elizabethan Nation (London, 1964). A good source for the reign of Elizabeth I. Hylton, J., The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, 1993, M.I.T., (May 2009) http://shakespeare.mit.edu/. This edition of Shakespeare's plays is in the public domain. James, M.E., The Concept of Order and the Northern Rising 1569, Past and Present, No. 60. (Aug., 1973), 49-83. Necessary reading if you want to understand the happenings around Mary Queen of Scots. Jordan, W.C., Approaches to the Court Scene in The Bond Story: Equity and Mercy or Reason and Nature, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1. (Spring, 1982), 49-59. Joseph, M., Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language, (Philadelphia, 2005). A wonderful book for language buffs. Kelly, W., The Pogo Papers (New York, 1952). Unsurpassed as political and social commentary. Larsen, D., Monte Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama

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(London, 2003). How can any Python fan not like this book? It is a bit repetitious, but altogether a good read. Laslett, P., The World We Have Lost further explored, (New York, 1984). Infant mortality seems to have been around twenty percent. Life expectancy does not mean the oldest likely age. Think of it as meaning that a random group of people in an industrialized country today would contain more older adults than a same size group in sixteenth century England. In England as a whole, about 6 or 7 per cent of the population was over 60 years of age. In modern times, that figure is about 20 per cent. England Census of 2001 Law, T.G., A Calendar of the English Martyrs of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, With an Introduction, London (1876). Provides a frankly Catholic view of the efforts to bolster the faith of English Catholics, along with vigorous commendations for the suicidal behavior of the seminarists who infiltrated England.. Levy, F.J., Tudor Historical Thought, Huntington Library (1967). A particularly useful source for the politics as well as the historical point of view of the Tudor period. Lewalski, B., Biblical Allusion and Allegory in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3. (Summer, 1962), pp. 327-343. A frequently referenced paper, but faulty in method. Loades, D., Intrigue and Treason: The Tudor Court 1547-1558 (New York, 2004). Logan, R.A., Shakespeare's Marlowe: The Influence of Christopher Marlowe on Shakespeare's Artistry (Burlington VT, 2007). Marks, A., Tyburn Tree Its History and Annals, Brown & Langham (c. 1910). Tyburn Tree was a place of public execution. Maskell, W., A History of the Martin Marprelate Controversy in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (London, 1844). At the time this was a famous (or infamous) religious controversy. Metzger, M.J.,Now by My Hood, a Gentle and No Jew: Jessica. The Merchant of Venice, and the Discourse of Early Modern English Identity, PMLA (Jan 1998; 113) 52-63. Meyer, M.A.,Wilhelm Marr: The Patriarch of Anti-Semitism. The American Historical Review, Vol. 93, No. 2, 442-443. Apr., 1988. Reports

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that the term Anti-Semitism was introduced in the 1870s. Nuttall, G.F., The English Martyrs 1535-1680: a statistical review, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. XXII, No. 3 (July, 1971), 191-7. Oman, C., The Sixteenth Century (New York, 1936). Altogether enjoyable. Parks, G.B., ed., The History of Italy (1549) by William Thomas (Ithaca, 1978). Rabkin, N., Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning (Chicago, 1981). Shakespeare and the Common Understanding (New York, 1967). Ribner, I., Marlowe and Shakespeare, Shakespeare Quarterly, 15, No. 2 (Spring 1964), 41-53. Rich, E.E. and C.H. Wilson, ed., The Cambridge Economic History of England Volume IV The Economy of Expanding Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Robertson, H.M., The Rise of Economic Individualism (Cambridge, 1933). Ruddock, A.A., Alien Merchants in Southampton in the Later Middle Ages, The English Historical Review, Vol. 61, No. 239. (Jan., 1946), pp. 117, Provides a reminder of the reality of intercourse between England and Italy circa 1473: A final mark of the esteem and friendship with which the townsfolk [of Southhampton] regarded certain of the aliens dwelling among them was their admission into the franchise [... of ...] Damiano de Pezaro, who described himself as merchant of Venice, proudly asserted that he had lived fifteen years and more in Southampton, paying scot and lot, and had been sworn a freeman of the town. Schumpeter, J. A., The Theory of Economic Development (Cambridge 1934). Scott, M.A., Elizabethan Translations from the Italian (Cambridge, 1916). Shapiro, J., Shakespeare and the Jews, (New York, 1996), Engages Elizabethan anti-Semitism in a comprehensive and informative way. Which is the Merchant here, and which the Jew? : Shakespeare and the Economics of Influence, Shakespeare Studies, 20 (1988), 269-79. Stillinger, J., Anthony Munday's Zelauto The Fountaine of Fame

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Stone, L., Social Mobility in England, 1500-1700, Past and Present, No. 33 (Apr., 1966), 16-55. Tawney, R.H., ed., Introduction in T. Wilson, A Discourse Upon Usury, (New York, 1927), particularly 43-60. Warneke, S., A Taste for Newfangledness: The Destructive Potential of Novelty in Early Modern England, Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4. (Winter, 1995), 881-896. Walter, J,, and K. Wrightson, Dearth and the Social Order in Early Modern England, Past and Present, No. 71. (May, 1976), 22-42. Walter, J., A Rising of the People"? The Oxfordshire Rising of 1596, Past and Present, No. 107 (May. 1965), 90-153. Unrest in the decade of the 1590s. Waters, W.G., The Italian Novelists Now First Translated Into English By W.G. Waters, Volume Five (London, 1901), 111-56 for the Il Pecorone story. White, H.C., Social Criticism in Popular Religious Literature of the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1973). Comprehensive and readable survey. Willis-Bund, J.W., A Selection of Cases from the State Trials Vol. I Trials for Treason (1327-1660), Cambridge (1879). Murder by poisoning was declared high treason in 22 Henry VII c. 9., and remained a statute until the end of Henry VIIIs reign. Wordie, J.R., Deflationary Factors in the Tudor Price Rise, Past and Present, 154 (Feb., 1997), 32-70. Wrigley, E.A. and R.S. Schofield, The Population History of England 15411871 (Cambridge, 1981). Wrigley, E.A., A Simple Model of Londons Importance in Changing English Society and Economy 1650-1750, Past and Present, No. 37 (July, 1967), 44-70. Youngs, F.A., Jr., The Proclamations of the Tudor Queens (Cambridge, 1976).

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Index
The Merchant of Venice line numbers are based on the Arden Shakespeare edition. There were no line numbers in the quartos or folios. Modern editions use idiosyncratic numbering stemming from the predilections of the editors.

Index
1 Corinthians................................................................................................................... 7:14........................................................................................................................66 Acts................................................................................................................................. 25:24....................................................................................................................152 26:1......................................................................................................................152 Ambiguity.................................................................................................................118 anti-Semitism............................................................................................................172 Black Death................................................................................................................12 Bond................................................................................................................................ and Antonio.........................................................................................................165 and Antonio and Bassanio.....................................................................................33 and Bassanio.........................................................................................................57 and Munday's Zelauto.........................................................................................102 and Portia............................................................................................................125 and Shylock...........................................................................................83, 123, 164 and usury.............................................................................................................128 Antonio's default...................................................................................................47 Described........................................................................................................32, 42 Invalid.....................................................................................................41, 50, 131 Boorde, Andrew........................................................................................................158 Caskets........................................................................................................................39 and Bassanio...........................................................................................56, 58, 108 and Bassanio and Portia........................................................................................78 and Gesta Romanorum........................................................................................156 and Jessica.............................................................................................................64 and music..............................................................................................................77 and Portia........................................................................................................52, 91 and providence....................................................................................................119 Choice of.............................................................................................................119 Parallels.................................................................................................................60 Chaucer...........................................................................................................3, 68, 173 Church of England........................................................................................................8

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Complexion.................................................................................................................91 Conscience........................................................................................19, 35, 74, 99, 173 and The Three Ladies of London........................................................................103 Content..................................................................................................................35, 54 Conversion...................................................................................................................... Jessica's.....................................................................................................63, 66, 89 Shylock's...............................................................................................................53 Coryate, Thomas.........................................................................................................55 Cranmer, Thomas......................................................................................................132 Daniel..................................................................................................................88, 164 Decade of crisis.............................................................................................................7 Deuteronomy.................................................................................................................. 22:5........................................................................................................................65 23:19..............................................................................................................19, 130 30:15....................................................................................................................156 Devil.................................................19, 35, 50, 60, 62, 74, 86, 90, 121, 141, 146, 162 Dowland. John............................................................................................................31 Ecclesiasticus.................................................................................................................. 35:19..............................................................................................................42, 167 Edward VI.................................................................................................................156 Elizabeth I.................................................................................................................156 and Portia..............................................................................................................39 Equity........................................................................................................................153 Exclusionary language................................................................................................86 Exodus............................................................................................................................ 11:3......................................................................................................................168 12.........................................................................................................................169 12:35............................................................................................................168, 169 13:21....................................................................................................................169 14:12....................................................................................................................169 16:20....................................................................................................................169 21 ........................................................................................................................169 22:25....................................................................................................................130 3:22......................................................................................................................168 Fair.................................................................................................................................. and Antonio...........................................................................................................36 and Antonio and Bassanio.....................................................................................31 and Bassanio.......................................................................................................147 and Bassanio and Antonio.....................................................................................24 and Bassanio and Jessica.......................................................................................65 and Bassanio and Portia........................................................................................59 and Lorenzo.....................................................................................................22, 25 and Lorenzo and Jessica..........................................................................72, 88, 168 and Portia and Morocco........................................................................................91 and Portia and Nerissa...........................................................................................25 and Shylock...........................................................................................................32 and Shylock and Antonio................................................................................47, 82 and the Duke.........................................................................................................21

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and the Lead Casket..............................................................................................80 in Two Gentlemen of Verona..............................................................................108 Food............................................................................................................................81 Foxe, John...................................................................................................................34 Genesis............................................................................................................................ 32:24....................................................................................................................163 Gentle as Gentile...............................................................................63, 65, 71, 89, 124 Good deeds.................................................................................................................44 Henry VIII....................................................................................................................8 Holocaust......................................................................................................................6 Imitation........................................................................................................................4 Infidel.............................................................................................................................. and Gratiano..............................................................................................66, 72, 89 Insurance...................................................................................................................161 Interpretation.........3, 11, 35, 39, 52, 67, 73, 80, 87, 118, 119, 123, 125, 156, 163, 167 Irony............................................................................................................42, 101, 173 Isaiah............................................................................................................................... 6:9........................................................................................................................118 Jacob.....................................................................................................74, 83, 129, 163 Jason and the Golden Fleece.........................................................................33, 74, 163 Jonson, Ben...............................................................................................................127 Lancelot......................................................................................................................42 Leviticus......................................................................................................................... 25:35....................................................................................................................130 Life and living...........................................................................................23, 30, 37, 53 Lopez, Roderigo.................................................................................................72, 101 Luke................................................................................................................................ 14:23......................................................................................................................35 6:35......................................................................................................................130 Manna.........................................................................................................................22 Mark................................................................................................................................ 4:10......................................................................................................................118 4:11................................................................................................................15, 168 Marlowe, Christopher.........................................................................43, 101, 136, 173 Marriage.......................................................................................................................... and Elizabeth.........................................................................................................94 Jessica and Lorenzo......................................................................................66, 168 Portia and Bassanio.........................................................................................40, 60 Mary I...............................................................................................................133, 156 Mary Queen of Scots..................................................................................................96 Masque..............................................................48, 64, 69, 71, 75, 77, 83, 85, 122, 144 Matthew.......................................................................................................................... 10:3................................................................................................................27, 163 18:17....................................................................................................................128 27:25....................................................................................................................164 5:16........................................................................................................................44 5:38............................................................................................................6, 36, 174 5:46................................................................................................................27, 163

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6:19..................................................................................................52, 93, 161, 165 6:31......................................................................................................................161 7:12................................................................................................................88, 164 Precepts hard to follow.........................................................................................88 Merchant of Venice - Lines............................................................................................. 1.1.............................................................................................................................. 1.1. 1...............................................................................................................17 1.1. 8.............................................................................................................138 1.1. 42............................................................................................................161 1.1. 45............................................................................................................165 1.1. 57............................................................................................................149 1.1. 66..............................................................................................................56 1.1. 72........................................................................................................18, 56 1.1. 74..............................................................................................................18 1.1. 77..............................................................................................31, 112, 115 1.1. 79........................................................................................................18, 70 1.1.101.......................................................................................................18, 70 1.1.105.............................................................................................................70 1.1.119.............................................................................................................71 1.1.127.............................................................................................................24 1.1.138.............................................................................................................31 1.1.140.............................................................................................................56 1.1.161.............................................................................................................24 1.1.165.............................................................................................................57 1.1.169.............................................................................................................72 1.1.177.....................................................................................................31, 151 1.2.............................................................................................................................. 1.2. 1...............................................................................................................18 1.2. 10..............................................................................................................18 1.2. 12............................................................................................................166 1.2. 20..............................................................................................39, 119, 157 1.2. 22..............................................................................................................94 1.2. 54..............................................................................................................39 1.2. 65............................................................................................................158 1.2.108.......................................................................................................25, 57 1.2.114...........................................................................................................158 1.3.............................................................................................................................. 1.3. 1...............................................................................................................19 1.3. 11............................................................................................................121 1.3. 19..............................................................................................................87 1.3. 20............................................................................................................165 1.3. 27..............................................................................................................47 1.3. 29............................................................................................................162 1.3. 30..............................................................................................................82 1.3. 36................................................................................27, 47, 128, 139, 163 1.3. 41..............................................................................................................82 1.3. 52..............................................................................................................19 1.3. 54..............................................................................................................82

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1.3. 85..............................................................................................................87 1.3. 86............................................................................................................163 1.3. 93....................................................................................................121, 146 1.3.117.............................................................................................................47 1.3.124...........................................................................................................165 1.3.125.....................................................................................................32, 129 1.3.133...........................................................................................................129 1.3.136.............................................................................................................47 1.3.142.............................................................................................................32 1.3.145.............................................................................................................47 1.3.159.....................................................................................................48, 129 1.3.161.............................................................................................................82 2.1.............................................................................................................................. 2.1. 1...............................................................................................................91 2.1. 20..............................................................................................................91 2.1. 40..............................................................................................................91 2.2.............................................................................................................................. 2.2. 1...............................................................................................................19 2.2. 20..............................................................................................................74 2.2. 29..............................................................................................................73 2.2.101.............................................................................................................83 2.2.138.............................................................................................................74 2.2.180.....................................................................................................71, 147 2.3.............................................................................................................................. 2.3. 1.........................................................................................................19, 63 2.3. 10........................................................................................................75, 90 2.3. 15........................................................................................................20, 26 2.3. 19............................................................................................................122 2.4.............................................................................................................................. 2.4. 1...............................................................................................................85 2.4. 19......................................................................................................63, 122 2.4. 20........................................................................................................69, 89 2.4. 29..................................................................................................25, 63, 88 2.4. 35............................................................................................................123 2.5.............................................................................................................................. 2.5. 3...............................................................................................................84 2.5. 6.......................................................................................................75, 108 2.5. 11..............................................................................................................83 2.5. 13..............................................................................................................48 2.5. 16..............................................................................................................75 2.5. 28................................................................................................64, 83, 144 2.5. 35........................................................................................................46, 48 2.5. 45..............................................................................................................84 2.5. 52..............................................................................................................48 2.6.............................................................................................................................. 2.6. 12..............................................................................................................71 2.6. 25..............................................................................................................85 2.6. 26......................................................................................................64, 122

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2.6. 33..............................................................................................................64 2.6. 49..............................................................................................................65 2.6. 51........................................................................................................71, 89 2.6. 52......................................................................................................25, 168 2.6. 59..............................................................................................................85 2.6. 63..............................................................................................................83 2.7.............................................................................................................................. 2.7. 38............................................................................................................119 2.7. 65..............................................................................................................78 2.7. 69............................................................................................................119 2.7. 78..............................................................................................................91 2.8.............................................................................................................................. 2.8. 35......................................................................................................32, 165 2.9.............................................................................................................................. 2.9. 36............................................................................................................119 2.9. 59............................................................................................................119 2.9. 63..............................................................................................................78 2.9. 70..............................................................................................................91 3.1.............................................................................................................................. 3.1. 19..............................................................................................................91 3.1. 29..............................................................................................................91 3.1. 39......................................................................................................48, 149 3.1. 42..............................................................................................................46 3.1. 45........................................................................................................49, 83 3.1. 47....................................................................................................113, 139 3.1. 65..............................................................................................52, 114, 125 3.1. 70........................................................................................................50, 91 3.1. 76..............................................................................................................47 3.1. 77..............................................................................................................55 3.1. 80......................................................................................................49, 117 3.1. 91............................................................................................................123 3.1. 95............................................................................................................139 3.1. 98..............................................................................................................83 3.1.103.....................................................................................................33, 151 3.1.108.....................................................................................................49, 123 3.1.110.............................................................................................................49 3.1.114.............................................................................................................21 3.1.116.......................................................................................................48, 66 3.2.............................................................................................................................. 3.2. 24......................................................................................................96, 120 3.2. 40................................................................................................59, 79, 157 3.2. 63..............................................................................................................79 3.2. 73......................................................................................................58, 147 3.2. 97......................................................................................................91, 109 3.2.108.............................................................................................................39 3.2.131.............................................................................................................80 3.2.146.............................................................................................................59 3.2.149.....................................................................................................39, 116

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3.2.170.......................................................................................................40, 59 3.2.173.............................................................................................................59 3.2.175.............................................................................................................58 3.2.213.............................................................................................................41 3.2.217.......................................................................................................72, 89 3.2.219.............................................................................................................61 3.2.237.......................................................................................................33, 72 3.2.240.............................................................................................................57 3.2.252.............................................................................................................58 3.2.253.............................................................................................................36 3.2.260.............................................................................................................84 3.2.283.............................................................................................................66 3.2.298.............................................................................................................40 3.2.314...........................................................................................................124 3.2.315.....................................................................................................33, 150 3.3.............................................................................................................................. 3.3. 19..............................................................................................................34 3.3. 24........................................................................................................21, 50 3.3. 26............................................................................................................166 3.4.............................................................................................................................. 3.4. 5...............................................................................................................29 3.4. 10................................................................................................38, 81, 173 3.5.............................................................................................................................. 3.5. 1...............................................................................................................90 3.5. 4...............................................................................................................76 3.5. 21..............................................................................................................84 3.5. 66..............................................................................................................89 3.5. 67..............................................................................................................67 3.5. 68..............................................................................................................89 3.5. 80..............................................................................................................84 4.1.............................................................................................................................. 4.1. 3.........................................................................................................20, 86 4.1. 6...............................................................................................................55 4.1. 7.............................................................................................................146 4.1. 8.............................................................................................................160 4.1. 10..............................................................................................................34 4.1. 14............................................................................................................133 4.1. 16............................................................................................................124 4.1. 59......................................................................................................51, 124 4.1. 71..............................................................................................................34 4.1. 78..............................................................................................................28 4.1. 88............................................................................................................124 4.1. 89........................................................................................................51, 88 4.1. 97............................................................................................................124 4.1.111.............................................................................................................60 4.1.112.............................................................................................................43 4.1.121.............................................................................................................52 4.1.128.............................................................................................................72

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4.1.170.............................................................................................................37 4.1.179...........................................................................................................167 4.1.180.............................................................................................................41 4.1.202...........................................................................................................164 4.1.214.............................................................................................................51 4.1.219.............................................................................................88, 110, 164 4.1.228.......................................................................................................42, 48 4.1.242...........................................................................................................110 4.1.256...........................................................................................................125 4.1.260.............................................................................................................34 4.1.269.............................................................................................................36 4.1.278.............................................................................................................60 4.1.286.............................................................................................................73 4.1.291.............................................................................................................67 4.1.300...........................................................................................................134 4.1.301...........................................................................................................125 4.1.311.............................................................................................................52 4.1.316.............................................................................................................52 4.1.336...........................................................................................................164 4.1.343.......................................................................................42, 53, 126, 142 4.1.351.............................................................................................................87 4.1.364.............................................................................................................87 4.1.365.............................................................................................................35 4.1.370...............................................................................................37, 53, 142 4.1.372...................................................................................................162, 165 4.1.376.......................................................................................................35, 54 4.1.387.......................................................................................................35, 87 4.1.388...................................................................................................132, 133 4.1.391.............................................................................................................54 4.1.392.............................................................................................................21 4.1.394.............................................................................................................55 4.1.437...........................................................................................................154 4.1.445.................................................................................................35, 43, 60 5.1.............................................................................................................................. 5.1. 1...............................................................................................................80 5.1. 14..............................................................................................................90 5.1. 20..............................................................................................................68 5.1. 46..............................................................................................................22 5.1. 49..............................................................................................................80 5.1. 53..............................................................................................................68 5.1. 68..............................................................................................................68 5.1. 69..........................................................................................22, 62, 68, 110 5.1. 83........................................................................................................68, 81 5.1. 89........................................................................................................44, 81 5.1. 91..............................................................................................................68 5.1.216.......................................................................................................44, 61 5.1.249.............................................................................................................36 5.1.273.............................................................................................................44

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5.1.280.............................................................................................................23 5.1.286...................................................................................23, 30, 37, 53, 162 5.1.289.............................................................................................................44 5.1.291.............................................................................................................22 5.1.293.....................................................................................................22, 169 5.1.295...............................................................................................23, 44, 174 5.1.306.............................................................................................................22 Mercy 20, 34, 37, 41, 44, 45, 46, 51, 73, 86, 87, 109, 114, 124, 132,133, 137, 139, 151, 164, 167, 173 Miracle of the demoniacs..........................................................................................162 Money............................................................................................................................. and Bassanio.................................................................................24, 36, 56, 60, 65 and Bassanio and Antonio.....................................................................................31 and Bassanio and Lorenzo....................................................................................26 and Gratiano..........................................................................................................71 and Jessica.......................................................................................................63, 88 and Lancelot....................................................................................................20, 75 and Lorenzo...........................................................................................................85 and merchants.......................................................................................................13 and Munday's Zelauto.........................................................................................102 and Nerissa............................................................................................................23 and Portia..............................................................................................................40 and Shylock...............................................................................................19, 46, 82 and Shylock and Antonio..........................................................................27, 34, 37 and the transfer to Rome.....................................................................................104 and Tubal...............................................................................................................69 and usury.............................................................................................................105 as a theme................................................................................................................3 Money-lending............................................................................................................58 Munday, Anthony.....................................................................................................101 Obdurate.................................................................................28, 55, 86, 146, 160, 174 Ovid............................................................................................................................68 Parables.....................................................................................................................168 and Jessica...........................................................................................................168 Pardon.............................................................................................................35, 54, 87 Paul................................................................................................................................. and Antonio.........................................................................................................165 Romans...................................................................................................................... 3:12................................................................................................................167 7:18..........................................................................................................38, 166 9:3..................................................................................................................167 Pilate, Pontius.....................................................................................................20, 164 Publican......................................................................................................27, 128, 163 Puritans...........................................................................................36, 71, 81, 121, 146 Rich................................................................................................................................. and Antonio and Bassanio.....................................................................................33 and Bassanio.........................................................................................................57 and Bassanio and Antonio.....................................................................................24

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and Bassanio and Lancelot....................................................................................74 and Nerissa and Shylock.......................................................................................22 in Two Gentlemen of Verona..............................................................................107 Sermon on the Mount.........................................................................................88, 164 Shakespeare.................................................................................................................... Originality...............................................................................................................4 Shakespeare's Plays........................................................................................................ As You Like It.....................................................................................................111 Hamlet.............................................................................................................2, 172 Henry VIII (originally entitled All Is True).........................................................132 King Lear............................................................................................................170 Macbeth...............................................................................................................115 Measure for Measure...........................................................................................114 Othello.................................................................................................................113 Second Part of King Henry The Fourth...............................................................111 Tempest...............................................................................................................115 Tragedy of Richard the Second ..........................................................................110 Twelfth Night......................................................................................................112 Two Gentlemen of Verona..................................................................................107 Song of Solomon........................................................................................................91 Stage, plays meant for the.............................................................................................5 Steal................................................................................................................................ and Jessica.......................................................................................................65, 69 and Jessica and Lorenzo..........................................................................68, 90, 168 and Jessica and Shylock......................................................................................165 and Matthew and Shylock.....................................................................................52 and Shylock...................................................................................................87, 129 Stranger.............................................................................................................160, 174 and Gratiano..............................................................................................66, 72, 89 and The Jew of Malta..................................................................................137, 139 and usury.............................................................................................................130 Three Ladies of London............................................................................................103 Treason............................................................................................................................ and Elizabeth.................................................................................................98, 120 and Portia and Bassanio........................................................................................96 True................................................................................................................................. and Bassanio.........................................................................................................57 and Bassanio and Portia..................................................................................58, 59 and Elizabeth.........................................................................................................99 and Jessica.............................................................................................................49 and Jessica and Lorenzo........................................................................................68 and Lorenzo and Antonio......................................................................................28 and Lorenzo and Jessica........................................................25, 26, 65, 72, 88, 168 and Portia..........................................................................................43, 79, 81, 126 and Portia and Bassanio........................................................................................40 and Shylock and Tubal........................................................................................123 and the Lead Casket..............................................................................................80 Tubal.......................................................................................................19, 33, 49, 123

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Usury.................................................................................................................101, 127 Venice.........................................................................................................................41 Described by Thomas Wilson.......................................................................50, 153 Laws of......................................................................................................34, 46, 53 Virginity....................................................................................................................143 What is this play about.......................................................................................80, 172 Wise................................................................................................................................ and Gratiano and Antonio.....................................................................................18 and Lorenzo...........................................................................................................70 and Lorenzo and Jessica..............................................................25, 65, 72, 89, 168 and Morocco........................................................................................................119 Word by word analysis...............................................................................................89 Wyclif, John..................................................................................................................9 Zelauto, by Anthony Munday...................................................................................101