Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recently Read: Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

This was much more nuanced than 'The Jew of Malta'. Quite brilliant actually. Some of the language and observation contained within was just excellent. Once again the portrayal of Jews, this time via the character Shylock, was pretty disdainful. Although it's gotta be said not as strong as in Marlowe's - this time the Jewish character acts solely within the law, although the malice and self-interest is nonetheless evident.

Interestingly, in both plays the Jewish villain has a daughter - in 'The Merchant of Venice' it's Jessica and in 'The Jew of Malta' Abigail. Both these characters are good and contain none of the ill will or vengefulness of their fathers. It's generally believed that Marlowe's play directly influenced Shakespeare's, so that may explain this common theme in the two plays. However, I'm sure I've came across this theme before in literature, but I can't quite remember where. The theme of the horrid Jewish father and goodly Jewish daughter seems to have a certain resonance with me. I'll keep an eye out for it.

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