The Merchant of Venice (The New Cambridge Shakespeare) - PDF Free Download
Why should you care about what Lancelot says in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice? (And teases pretty cruelly, joking that Old Gobbo's son is dead.) an interesting parallel to the relationship between Jessica and Shylock. just dismisses his conscience as a hard one, giving worse advice than the fiend. Launcelot resolves that he will follow the advice of the fiendish aspect of his In conversation with his father, Launcelot Gobbo, who wishes to present a gift to 2 educator answers; What is the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio?. Shakespeare serves up three parent-child relationships in the play—two . The relationship between Launcelot Gobbo and his father is neither as tempestuous.
Such a cool acceptance of death can see be seen when Antonio faces the prospect of having his flesh carved by Shylock with measured resignation: Shylock cannot accept his tainted status like Antonio can. Without any woman with whom to sleep or control, Shylock is as female-deprived as Antonio. In this regard, Antonio is opposed to the anxious Shylock who transfers his fears of being cuckolded by Leah unto others, particularly Antonio. The fantasy-induced conflation of circumcision and castration positions Shylock as wanting to emasculate another man just as he has been.
Notes on Act 2, Scene 2 from Merchant of Venice
After all, Jewish men were often derided in early modern polemics as feminine because they were circumcised. Laban agrees to the proposition. Believing that offspring appear like whatever the mother was looking at during the moment of conception, Jacob strikes the ground with 98 Paternal and Financial Anxiety in The Merchant of Venice multicolored branches.
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for, A thing not in his power to bring to pass, But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven. Was this inserted to make interest good? Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams? Of course, money cannot breed itself. Although I do not argue that images of usury are necessarily functioning metonymically as symbols of cuckoldry, the link between the unnaturalness of lending money at interest and illicit sexual relationship is common.
Aristotle transitions into a discussion of retail trade and household management as forms through which individuals acquire goods and, more importantly, material for subsistence. In fact, his language is stark and unbending: The trade of petty usurer is hated most, and with most reason: Currency came into existence merely as a means of exchange; usury tries to make it increase [as thought it were an end in itself].
This sterility doctrine fueled the denunciation of usury throughout Classical and Medieval times. Children should not be clones of their parents.
Although the terms breeding, usury, propagation, and reproduction are discrete they are often used interchangeably. This heated exchange between Antonio and Shylock possesses more undercurrents relating to the theme of marital duplicity.
Shylock pauses and corrects himself about his sacred connection. Kenneth Gross expands on W. He has fulfilled the stereotype of Jewish usurers as godless and uncharitable. The first recorded usage of this term in the English language dates only to according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Or might he employ a second valence for the term? One which refers to a covenant between two or more persons and has an etymologic origin as early as the s?
With Jessica now converting to Christianity, he has been robbed of any pretense of familial allegiances and ties. Having furnished herself with a dowry, Jessica begins the conversion process from Jew to Christian. Barren metal makes way for marriage and, one assumes, reproduction. He is portrayed as a curmudgeon and spoilsport who, before he leaves the house to meet with the Christians in 2.
A fear that another man has penetrated his wife would underscore and heighten the symbolic importance of his final advice for enclosing Jessica within his home, as it once again connects bodily safety with financial terms: Shut doors after you. Shapiro notes that in place of the male marker of Judaism, circumcision, Jewish women in fifteenth-century northern Italy wore earrings as a sign of their faith.
Secondly, one can envision another reading of this fantasy. The correlation between the hurt he experiences and the amount of pain he wants to enact on others is clear. And I know, my lord, If law, authority, and power deny not, It will go hard with poor Antonio. Despite her act of distancing herself from Shylock, Portia does not engage with Jessica but rather turns to Bassanio and asks if the letter is in reference to his friend. One wonders how the actor portraying Jessica might react: In fact, Bassanio welcomes only Lorenzo and Salerio by name 3.
The scene wherein Lancelot comes upon his father, Old Gobbo, is interpreted by many as a distracting one that is sometimes cut from productions of the play C. Yet this father-son relationship, the only one in the comedy, acts as a foil to the father-daughter relationships of the drama.
Gobbo is unaware that he speaks of Lancelot about Lancelot. The link between children and their mother is always more secure than that with their father. Jessica can be assured that Leah is her mother just as Lancelot is safe in assuming that Margery is his mother. Clearly the flesh-bond plot is virtually the same in both. So is the affair of the ring, though Shakespeare handles this with a lighter touch, omitting the sentimental reflections with which Giannetto relinquishes the keepsake, and doubling the entertainment of the ending by involving Gratiano and Nerissa in its contretemps.
That Shakespeare read Ser Giovanni's story, either in the original or in a very faithful translation, is put beyond doubt in any close comparison of the two works. Shakespeare seizes upon all the vivid details of the Lady's intervention to save Ansaldo - her taking the bond and reading it, her conceding its validity so firmly that the Jew approaches the merchant with his razor bared, her dramatic last-minute halt to the proceedings.
One puzzling feature of the play, the discrepancy between Bassanio's long sea voyage to Belmont and Portia's headlong coach ride to the Venetian ferry, is cleared up in the Italian source: Much is made of Ansaldo's generosity and long-suffering, and of his readiness to risk his life for his godson, whose shiftiness forebodes the difficulties that faced Shakespeare when he sought to make Bassanio an attractive hero.
Ansaldo's behaviour after Giannetto's first two mishaps is described in language which recalls the Prodigal Son's father, and these resonances may have given rise to Gratiano's image of the ' scarfed bark ' all Giannetto's ships are gay with banners setting forth ' like a younger or a prodigal ' 1 Bullough, p. The Merchant of Venice 4 but returning 'lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind' 2. The Jew in the Italian tale is a less realised character than the merchant, but as in the play his obduracy has a clear religious and commercial motivation: He forestalled the absurd match of the merchant and the damsel by having Nerissa marry Gratiano in Act 3.
More importantly, the ribald story of the bed test, which makes nonsense of all the talk of the Lady's generosity, is replaced by the highly moral tale of the three caskets, which has survived in a number of versions from the ninth century onwards. In translation, this forms part of a selection from the Gesta Romanorum published in London in and, with revisions, in We can be reasonably sure this last was the edition used by Shakespeare, because in its translation of the casket story there occurs the unusual word ' insculpt ' which is also used by Morocco when he is making his choice of casket 2.
So far we have been assuming that Shakespeare was the first to substitute the story of the caskets for Ser Giovanni's tale of the drugged wine. This assumption grows into a near certainty when, on subjecting the play to close scrutiny, we discover residual traces of the story that Shakespeare cut out.
Among the loose ends is Bassanio's impecunious state at the beginning of the play, which leads the audience to suspect him of wooing Portia in an attempt to mend his fortunes ; in the novella it is the Lady herself who is responsible for Giannetto being penniless, as she has already seized the ships and cargoes from his first two ventures.
Indeed Bassanio's argument that the best way to find a lost arrow is to send another after it, which is almost too much for Antonio's patience, would be nearly valid in the context of Giannetto's triple attempt. In Antonio's expression 'secret pilgrimage' 1. Perhaps too it was the recollection of the risk run by the Lady's suitors that caused Shakespeare to invent such hard conditions for those who woo Portia, and, in his adaptation of the Gesta Romanorum tale, to change the inscription on the leaden casket from ' Whoso chooseth me shall find that God hath disposed ' to ' Who chooseth me, must give and hazard all he hath' 2.
Bernard Grebanier, The Truth about Shylock,pp. Some particularly in1 Bullough gives examples, p. Brown gives the translation, pp. Bullough prints an extract from an earlier version of the complete Gesta Romanorum. See also Milton A. Levy, ' Did Shakespeare join the Lost source plays are, however, persistent ghosts in Shakespearean scholarship, and the one that haunts discussions of The Merchant of Venice has proved particularly hard to lay.
It even has a name. The sometime actor Stephen Gosson, in his attack on the immorality of the stage which was published inexempted from his censure two plays which had been acted at the Red Bull.
One of these, The Jew, he describes as representing ' the greediness of worldly choosers, and bloody minds of usurers'. But it is difficult to see how a play containing the casket story could be said never, in Gosson's phrase, to wound the eye with amorous gesture. Moreover the art of interweaving two or more stories in the manner of Italian intrigue comedy was still unknown to the English stage of the s.
Nor is there any need for Gosson's words to refer to a double plot: The flesh-bond story has a long ancestry as a folk tale,3 and Shakespeare is likely to have known other versions beside Ser Giovanni's. The ballad of Gernutus, a very basic version which involves only the Jew, his merchant victim from whom he obtains the bond as 'a merry jest', and a judge who, at the moment the Jew is ready 'with whetted blade in hand ' to claim his due, intervenes to tell him the pound of flesh must be exact and bloodless, is undated ; the phrases quoted are just as likely to have derived from Shakespeare's play as to have contributed to it.
One of the Jew's arguments is that there are worse cruelties than exacting a pound of flesh - for example, keeping one's victim in 'an intolerable slavery'. Shakespeare perhaps picked up the idea and put it to better use in Shylock's 'You have among you many a purchased slave The case against The Jew as a source has been forcefully put by E. Honigmann, ' Shakespeare's "lost source-plays'", MLR 49 Landa, The Shylock Myth,4 pp. Brown gives Gernutus, pp. The Merchant of Venice 6 retorts at the trial is sometimes very close to that of Silvayn's Jew.
A work which could have been of wider use to Shakespeare, in that it may have given him a lead-in to his elaboration of the flesh-bond plot by means of the duplication of lovers and the added story of Jessica's elopement, is a tale inset into the third book of Antony Munday's romance Zelauto, or the Fountain of Fame The dramatic liveliness of this tale has led to the suggestion that a play by Munday himself, based on an Italian original, lies behind it;2 not necessarily a complete play, since the reason Munday was described by Meres as ' our best plotter ' could be that he wrote play outlines, or scenari, which would have been sold to acting companies and worked up into full-dress dramas by their regular playwrights.
The two friends pledge their right eyes as a means of getting a large loan from the usurer, and buy a rich jewel by which they win the consent of Cornelia's father to her marrying Strabino. When the usurer, who has meanwhile agreed to Brisana marrying Rudolfo, discovers that he has been outbid as a suitor by his own money, he summons the young men before a judge and claims the forfeiture. Using the same religious argument as Portia, the judge urges him to show mercy.
But he is deaf to entreaty: Brisana's arguments, which have to do with the failure to repay by a certain date, might be heard in any court ; it is Cornelia who clinches the matter by stipulating that the usurer, in taking his due, must spill no blood. Realising that he is not going to get his money back, the usurer capitulates, accepts Rudolfo as a son-in-law, and declares him his heir.
Any influence Munday's tale may have had is secondary to Shakespeare's use of Ser Giovanni's story; Portia's plea is here, but no merchant and no Jew. What is interesting in Munday's story, apart from its tone to which we shall returnis its reduplication of lovers, by which the usurer is given a son-in-law to inherit his wealth and the heroine a companion to help bring the trial to a happy end.
If Shakespeare did, as is probable, encounter Munday's romance, these two characters underwent a second binary fission in his imagination, Rudolfo differentiating into Lorenzo and 1 2 3 4 The relevant extract is in Brown, pp. Zelauto has been edited by Jack Stillinger, ; Brown gives an abridgement, pp.
Shapiro, 'Shakespeare and Mundy', S. Introduction 7 Gratiano, and Brisana into Jessica and Nerissa. In this way, the love interest was trebled.
Furthermore, the addition to Shakespeare's play of the moneylender's daughter increased a strong theatrical influence to which we must now turn, that of Marlowe's Jew of Malta. Until the allusion to the Andrew was identified, The Merchant of Venice was usually dated The fact that The Merchant of Venice is now generally dated two or three years later does not of itself dissociate the play from the Lopez affair.
But Shylock, unlike Marlowe's Jew, bears very little resemblance to Lopez. He is neither a poisoner nor, before his final exit, a convert, and though the choice of the name Antonio could be a faint reverberation of the trial, it was a common Italian name which Shakespeare used for several more characters. Shylock has learnt from Barabas how to respond to Christian contempt: In both, this obsequiousness masks a fierce racial pride: Like Barabas, he believes that without the divine seal of material prosperity, life is not worth living.
To those who take away his wealth Barabas cries: 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 labor of my life, The comfort of mine age, my children's hope ; And therefore ne'er distinguish of the wrong - a passion heard again from 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.
Jew of Malta 1. Ungerer corrects Lopez's first name, usually given as Roderigo, to Ruy. Quotations are from Richard Van Fossen's edition, The Merchant of Venice 8 of play and the product of a different kind of imagination.
Marlowe's powerful and grotesque tragedy was so vivid in the memories of Shakespeare's audience that it must have presented itself to him as a challenge rather than a source.
When he seems most dependent on it, closer examination often reveals that he is holding it at bay: Marlowe's opening scene exuberantly celebrates the Jew's wealth of gold and silks and spices, in preparation for the portrayal of a world of materialist relationships.
In Shakespeare's first scene, argosies with their cargoes of silk and spices are powerfully evoked, but they are made to appear an irrelevance to the world of feeling revealed in Antonio's sadness and his affection for Bassanio; they are the means by which Antonio may serve Bassanio's ends, whereas Barabas's wealth is an end in itself.
This fruitful and creative resistance to Marlowe's play is most evident in the contrast between Jessica and Barabas's daughter Abigail. The scene in which the runaway Jessica throws down a casket of her father's jewels to her waiting lover deliberately recalls the night scene in The Jew of Malta in which the loyal Abigail extracts the sequestered treasure from her father's house and throws it down to him. Profound differences of character, tone, and circumstance in the two episodes are to make Shylock's ' My daughter!
It is a persistent presence, which Shakespeare manipulates with confident skill. He was sure the Jew could have succeeded, if only he had used a red-hot knife. As an African listener, he had expected a tale about a clever trickster in the Brer Rabbit tradition; Shylock let him down. Yet in our attempts to understand these background matters we need also to hold fast to the fact that Shakespeare's eminence makes him stand out from his background. The play is not made up of average Elizabethan preconceptions.
It is made out of the life experience of a highly individual artist, and our sense of that individuality as we gather it from Shakespeare's work as a whole is an important part of our response. His characterisation, though, of the two plays as 'a tragedy of defeat and negation' and 'a comedy of affirmation' oversimplifies both plays. Obumselu, 'The background of modern African literature', Ibadan 22 The triumph of love and friendship over malice and cruelty is the theme of most medieval romances, of countless short stories of the Italian Renaissance, and, from the s onward, of many English plays.
Unlike these earlier Shakespearean works which have the flavour of Lyly's court comedies, The Merchant of Venice has the feel of a popularly romantic play intended primarily for the public stage. And whereas court entertainments were made up of ' happenings ' that the dramatist could invent at will, plays in the popular romance tradition had a welldefined story line, and existed rather as narrations than presentations. Disguise, a very important element in such stories, is used to bring home to the audience the heroine's devotion and worth.
Far-fetched as such devices may seem, popular stage romance was not experienced as fantasy, and to call The Merchant of Venice a fairy tale is to induce a dangerous condescension in the reader and a dangerous whimsy in the director.
Romantic comedies could be set in real places, even like Greene's James IV portray historical figures. Although the Belmont of Ser Giovanni is the conventional court of medieval romance, complete with jousting and damsels, his Jew lives on the mainland at Mestre as most Venetian Jews did in the fourteenth century.
Two hundred years later, a public theatre audience took Antonio's perils seriously as befitted members of a rival trading nation. Argosies did not only belong in story books: Another kind of reality, that provided by the miracle play and the morality, gave further substance to much Elizabethan romantic comedy. Portia intervenes to save Antonio as providentially as the Virgin Mary, in continental miracle plays of the sixteenth century, came to the help of hero or heroine.
The notion, traceable to the Golden Legend, that souls could be saved even when they were being weighed in the balance and found wanting persisted in several forms: The part of an actor playing God in a morality about the debate of Justice and Mercy has survived in an Elizabethan MS.
The Merchant of Venice (The New Cambridge Shakespeare)
See Malone Society Collections 2, ed. Drawn from the original by Caroline Sassoon Despite talk of Jason and Hercules, Bassanio's venture has more in common with the Grail story than with the pursuit of the Golden Fleece: Moreover we are given a secure feeling, characteristic of romance, that the outcome is under the direction of benign powers ; Portia's dead father acts much as the divinely directed Fortune of romance, exercising a protective role over his daughter such as she in her turn is to exercise over Antonio.
Elsewhere, the play relies on a very different set of theatrical expectations, those brought to Italian comedy as it had been naturalised by Gascoigne, Munday, Shakespeare himself in The Taming of the Shrew, and possibly several of the writers of comedy named by Meres.Launcelot Gobbo Monologue
Munday's Zelauto has the spirit of this Italian comedy; even if it does not have a theatrical source, it represents another aspect of Renaissance fiction which is close in temper to the imbroglios of comedy, the 'merry tale'. Like such stories, Italian Renaissance comedies and their derivatives in France and England tend to be brisk and unsentimental.
The setting is urban, often a city at Carnival time. II Introduction Its heroines are resourceful and adventurous. Double and treble plots give the young ample opportunity to triumph over the old by means of trickery and disguise. The Merchant of Venice thus rouses and satisfies two very different kinds of expectation in its audience, who appear to have had no difficulty, here or elsewhere in Shakespeare's comedies, in shifting their perspective from scene to scene.
When Shakespeare instead made her the prize in a moral contest, he had to turn elsewhere - to his recollection of Munday's tale or some similar work - for a cheerfully amoral love intrigue such as Jessica's flight affords.
He also introduced a little levity into the more serious parts of his plot by drawing at moments on his own prior mastery of the comedy of wit. But whereas Greene starts his play with high-flown declarations of love from all the princes, Shakespeare first gives us Portia's mocking review of her suitors, saving the pomp and rhetoric till 2.
Later on, when the tension of the trial scene is most strained, Portia is no less sharp-tongued in her reaction to Bassanio's romantic declaration that he would give his wife to save Antonio; here, by exploiting for a moment the use of disguise for a skirmish in the sex war, Shakespeare awakens responses proper to the courtly comedy of love and wit to keep in check other responses that have more to do with melodrama.
This flexibility of response on the part of the audience is one means by which Shakespeare can give his characters substance. A personality is defined in life by an intricate net of relationships, but in a play the audience's extraneous, single-angled relationship to a character makes this multifaceted nature of personality one of the most elusive of dramatic goals.
A possible path to its attainment is the use of the audience's prior experience of varied dramatic and literary traditions. Portia may at 1 2 3 4 See also Salingar, Traditions, pp.
Twelfth Night, for example, in which the romantic main story and the heartless plot against Malvolio both originate in a single collection of stories. Barber, Shakespeare's Festive Comedy, The Merchant of Venice 12 times in the courtroom be the advocatus dei of medieval drama, but elsewhere she is the heroine of a quest romance, as good as she is rich as she is beautiful, and elsewhere again a clever schemer from intrigue comedy, with a scathing wit.
Shylock too meets several different expectations. At one moment he is the ogre of medieval romance, at another the devil of the morality play, at another the usurer of citizen comedy ; from time to time also the proud, even awesome, remnant of the House of Jacob from the Book of Genesis.
He may even appear to us fleetingly as the Pantaloon of the commedia del? Shakespeare met these expectations with a fair amount of what would now be called local colour. The Verona, Messina, or Florence of his other plays might be anywhere, but his Venice is particularised by gondolas and traghetti and double ducats, the Rialto and the synagogues, magnifichi and figures from the famous civil law school at nearby Padua.
Speculations have arisen that Shakespeare visited Venice when plague closed the London theatres in But if he did make the journey, it is scarcely conceivable that the ghetto, the first in Europe, could have escaped his notice. Shakespeare did not have to travel to Venice to learn about its more picturesque aspects.
He could have gathered all he needed from travellers and the guidebooks and histories they brought home with them; and the Italian community in London, though small, included people he was likely to meet. The ghetto, founded inis described by Fynes Moryson, who saw it inand Thomas Coryate who travelled to Venice in Jews were allowed at that time to employ Christian servants, provided they did not eat, drink, or sleep in the ghetto.
Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare, a Documentary Life,p. Hunter, 'Elizabethans and foreigners', S. Gobbo asks about his son, Launcelot, who is in the employ of the Jew. Launcelot, who can't quite believe that his father doesn't recognize him, toys with his father, pretending that this 'Launcelot' is dead.
Launcelot decides to stop pretending, but has trouble convincing his father that he's actually who he claims to be. Finally he accomplishes it by describing his mother. Gobbo announces that he's on his way to deliver a gift to Shylock, and asks if his son is well, working for him. Launcelot tells him that it's unbearable: He asks his father to, instead, give the gift to Bassanio, and ask that he be placed in Bassanio's service.
BassanioLeonardo, and Followers enter. Old Gobbo offers Bassanio the gift, and then begs him for a favor, that Launcelot might become his servant.