Sunday, April 15, 2018

More Shakespeare

So, we've been seeing a lot of Shakespeare lately -- JULIUS CAESAR a while back, and more recently TIMON OF ATHENA (his worst play) and MACBETH (perhaps his best), and now THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

I was of two minds about whether to go to this one. On the one hand, I remember having enjoyed the Portia scenes. On the other, the parts dealing with the Merchant himself, Shylock, are deeply racist.  Kind of like reading a HUCK FINN where the narrator is of the same mindset as Pap Finn. I didn't know if I'd be able to take it.

Now that I've seen it, it's not the fairy tale challenge + screwball  comedy of the Portia scenes but the nastiness of the antisemitism that stays with me. I found myself wondering what it'd be like if Shylock were black instead of Jewish.  Would that be even harder to take?

At any rate, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to bring myself to watch this one again.

--John R.

1 comment:

David Bratman said...

Shylock isn't the merchant. Antonio is the merchant. Shylock is the moneylender.

I've seen the play several times, and directorial and acting choices affect how it works a great deal. Although I'm Jewish myself, I do not find the play offensive. It depicts an anti-semitic society, but it's ambiguous about it rather than being wholly approving, and I'm accustomed to seeing such depictions.