History YMMV / TheMerchantOfVenice

9th Sep '16 2:37:42 PM momur
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** Though to be fair, comedy in Shakespeare's day would probably just have meant that everything turned out alright in the end and no one ends up dead (which is true: the [[ValuesDissonance villain]] is defeated and all the couples get together), rather than the laugh-out-loud definition of comedy we have now.
9th Sep '16 2:31:32 PM momur
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*** The "hath not a Jew eyes" speech can, in itself, have many different interpretations depending on how the character is portrayed. Is Shylock pleading for tolerance and equal treatment? Or is he just making a calculated justification for his desire to [[DisproportionateRetribution kill Antonio by cutting out his heart]]? The speech does focus on the revenge aspect more than the "I am just like you" aspect, after all...
12th Jun '16 8:51:52 PM PaulA
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** The character of Shylock is open to lots of it, largely because he's not drawn as unambiguously evil as other Jewish characters of the same time (Marlowe's ''The Jew Of Malta'' comes to mind.) Is he a greedy bastard who cares for nothing but money? Is he a hard-nosed businessman who knows that his only protection from those who would like to see him ruined is his reputation as a bastard? Is he the victim of repeated bullying and abuse who finally gets what he believes is a chance to take revenge on the person who has abused him the most -- and do it legally? Is his famous soliloquy meant to reinforce his humanity, or to reveal that his non-Christian faith prevents him from fully grasping what it means to be human (since he only mention physical traits like eyes and hands and blood, instead of metaphysical concepts like [[OurSoulsAreDifferent the immortal soul]])?

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** The character of Shylock is open to lots of it, largely because he's not drawn as unambiguously evil as other Jewish characters of the same time (Marlowe's ''The Jew Of Malta'' ''Theatre/TheJewOfMalta'' comes to mind.) Is he a greedy bastard who cares for nothing but money? Is he a hard-nosed businessman who knows that his only protection from those who would like to see him ruined is his reputation as a bastard? Is he the victim of repeated bullying and abuse who finally gets what he believes is a chance to take revenge on the person who has abused him the most -- and do it legally? Is his famous soliloquy meant to reinforce his humanity, or to reveal that his non-Christian faith prevents him from fully grasping what it means to be human (since he only mention physical traits like eyes and hands and blood, instead of metaphysical concepts like [[OurSoulsAreDifferent the immortal soul]])?



** On the other hand, Shylock is primarily the {{Foil}} to his heroes and not the protagonist, unlike Creator/ChristopherMarlowe's ''The Jew of Malta'' (also stained with anti-semitism) where the hero is a VillainProtagonist who refuses to convert and instead becomes a mass murderer, with his enemies shown to have none of the nobility Shakespeare's verse attributes to Portia, Antonio and Bassanio. From Shakespeare's perspective, Shylock's speech would be of the same order as that of his other villains, to provide him more shades and make him interesting, but nonetheless still keeping him the villain.

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** On the other hand, Shylock is primarily the {{Foil}} to his heroes and not the protagonist, unlike Creator/ChristopherMarlowe's ''The Jew of Malta'' ''Theatre/TheJewOfMalta'' (also stained with anti-semitism) where the hero is a VillainProtagonist who refuses to convert and instead becomes a mass murderer, with his enemies shown to have none of the nobility Shakespeare's verse attributes to Portia, Antonio and Bassanio. From Shakespeare's perspective, Shylock's speech would be of the same order as that of his other villains, to provide him more shades and make him interesting, but nonetheless still keeping him the villain.
4th May '16 7:20:14 AM VanHohenheimOfXerxes
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** The character of Shylock is open to lots of it, largely because he's not drawn as unambiguously evil as other Jewish characters of the same time (Marlowe's ''The Jew Of Malta'' comes to mind.) Is he a greedy bastard who cares for nothing but money? Is he a hard-nosed businessman who knows that his only protection from those who would like to see him ruined is his reputation as a bastard? Is he the victim of repeated bullying and abuse who finally gets what he believes is a chance to take revenge on the person who has abused him the most -- and do it legally?

to:

** The character of Shylock is open to lots of it, largely because he's not drawn as unambiguously evil as other Jewish characters of the same time (Marlowe's ''The Jew Of Malta'' comes to mind.) Is he a greedy bastard who cares for nothing but money? Is he a hard-nosed businessman who knows that his only protection from those who would like to see him ruined is his reputation as a bastard? Is he the victim of repeated bullying and abuse who finally gets what he believes is a chance to take revenge on the person who has abused him the most -- and do it legally?legally? Is his famous soliloquy meant to reinforce his humanity, or to reveal that his non-Christian faith prevents him from fully grasping what it means to be human (since he only mention physical traits like eyes and hands and blood, instead of metaphysical concepts like [[OurSoulsAreDifferent the immortal soul]])?
7th Feb '16 10:23:14 PM JulianLapostat
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* AcceptableTargets: Jews were this in Shakespeare's day. And note that Shakespeare was ''nice'' about it, compared to his contemporaries.

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* AcceptableTargets: Jews were this in Shakespeare's day. And note Indeed, it's believed that Shakespeare this play was ''nice'' about it, compared to his contemporaries.inspired by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderigo_Lopez Roderigo Lopez]], the Portuguese New Christian (converted Jew) who served Elizabeth's court and became the only Royal Physician executed by the Crown.



* DracoInLeatherPants: For modern audiences, Shylock undoubtedly gets this. This was also the case in earlier eras but more for the prosaic reasons that Shylock gets all the cool lines.



* EsotericHappyEnding: And how. Are we really supposed to be thrilled about Shylock's humiliation and forced conversion?
* FairForItsDay: Former TropeNamer. Shylock is given depth and motivation for his actions, even if they are vindictive, and is able to articulate them very passionately. This was an uncommonly sympathetic characterization for a time in which Jews weren't even allowed to live in England. Shylock even finishes his "hath not a Jew eyes?" speech, when he's justifying his desire for vengeance, by saying that he'll "better the instruction"--he's explicitly giving the Venetians a taste of their own medicine.

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* EsotericHappyEnding: And how. Are we really supposed to be thrilled about Shylock's humiliation and forced conversion?
conversion? Of course in Shakespeare's time, this ending would have been a positive ending, since Shylock is left to live at the end as a convert as a recipient of mercy. When placed in context with what happened to the poor Dr [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderigo_Lopez Roderigo Lopez]], whose conversion did not prevent his execution, Shylock got off lightly.
* FairForItsDay: Former TropeNamer. It's truly debatable how to apply this trope even if it was the former TropeNamer.
** From a modern perspective, it seems like
Shylock is given depth and motivation for his actions, even if they are vindictive, and is able to articulate them very passionately. This was an uncommonly sympathetic characterization for a time in which Jews weren't even allowed to live in England.passionately. Shylock even finishes his "hath not a Jew eyes?" speech, when he's justifying his desire for vengeance, by saying that he'll "better the instruction"--he's explicitly giving the Venetians a taste of their own medicine. This was an uncommonly sympathetic characterization for a time in which Jews weren't even allowed to live in England, where being converted would still not save you from a KangarooCourt.
** On the other hand, Shylock is primarily the {{Foil}} to his heroes and not the protagonist, unlike Creator/ChristopherMarlowe's ''The Jew of Malta'' (also stained with anti-semitism) where the hero is a VillainProtagonist who refuses to convert and instead becomes a mass murderer, with his enemies shown to have none of the nobility Shakespeare's verse attributes to Portia, Antonio and Bassanio. From Shakespeare's perspective, Shylock's speech would be of the same order as that of his other villains, to provide him more shades and make him interesting, but nonetheless still keeping him the villain.



* MisaimedFandom: Depending on whether or not the play is intended as anti-Semitic, the legions of anti-Semites who have enjoyed the play down the years might count as this. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shylock#Influence_on_antisemitism See here.]]



* ValuesDissonance: Hoo boy yes. In particular, even a modern day Jewish viewer and a modern day Christian viewer might have different reactions to Shylock's eventual fate-- a Christian might be able to accept the "convert to Christianity" as being a FairForItsDay attempt at what a 16th century English Christian would think was a happy ending for his AntiVillain, but Jewish culture largely views conversion away from Judaism--''especially'' forced conversion-- as being anathema.
** For that matter, Shylock being treated as a usurer. Jews were treated with contempt by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.

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* ValuesDissonance: Hoo boy yes. In particular, even a ValuesDissonance:
** The legions of anti-Semites who have enjoyed the play down the years [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shylock#Influence_on_antisemitism should alone give pause]] to
modern attempts to "reclaim" the play. Modern day Jewish viewer and a modern day Christian viewer might audiences have vastly different reactions to Shylock's eventual fate-- a Christian might be able to accept fate, which in the "convert to Christianity" original context counted as being a FairForItsDay attempt at what a 16th century English Christian would think was a happy ending for his AntiVillain, but Jewish culture largely views conversion away from Judaism--''especially'' forced conversion-- as being anathema.
AntiVillain.
** For Harold Bloom, the great Shakespeare critic notes that matter, Shylock being treated while he doesn't believe that Shakespeare was personally anti-semitic, he does believe that the play (which was a popular commission after all) is anti-semitic and that the main cause for regret is that Shakespeare ''[[TookTheBadFilmSeriously wrote it too well]]'' and as such ensured that a pantomime antisemitic caricature had longer life in popular imagination as a usurer. Jews were treated with contempt result of Shakespeare's great verse. It's a lot harder to combat stereotypes after all when they are given depth and good writing by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood greatest writer of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.
all time.


23rd Jul '15 7:21:03 PM fusilcontrafusil
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** For that matter, Shylock being treated as a usurper. Jews were treated with contempt by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.

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** For that matter, Shylock being treated as a usurper.usurer. Jews were treated with contempt by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.
9th Feb '15 9:29:45 PM GoodLuc
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** For that matter, Shylock being treated as a usurer. Jews were treated with contempt by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.

to:

** For that matter, Shylock being treated as a usurer.usurper. Jews were treated with contempt by Christians for lending money at interest in violation of the brotherhood of mankind, but the Torah permits Jews to lend at interest to non-Jews.
14th Nov '14 1:32:22 PM MagBas
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* UnfortunateImplications:
** Playing Shylock as tragic and DrivenToVillainy rather than a dyed-in-the-wool villain simply opens up a ''different'' set of un-PC implications: it makes the three women of the play (Portia, Nerissa and Jessica) into sadistic harpies and can be seen to imply that a smart woman is an evil woman.
** On the other hand, in such an interpretation Antonio is still an anti-Semite who has abused Shylock in the past, and Bassanio and Gratiano are morons who promptly surrender the tokens of love just given to them by their ladies to what they think are a pair of men on a whim. So really ''nobody'' comes off looking too nice. Which in its turn ends up validating the stereotype that everyone in the Middle Ages was either evil or [[MedievalMorons stupid]].
** Some productions have fun with this by having Shylock begin the play costumed and made up as a stereotypical GreedyJew surrounded by white clad, angelic Christians, and then, as the play goes on, gradually changing their make-up and wardrobe so that by the end, Shylock is humble and angelic whilst the Christians are basically PuttingOnTheReich.
24th Oct '14 5:03:42 AM TalonsofIceandFire
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24th Sep '14 3:40:06 PM darkknight109
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* RootingForTheEmpire: Believe it or not, [[ValuesDissonance thanks to the anti-Semitism of the day,]] Shylock was likely written to be received as a straight-up menacing bad guy. In modern times, he is almost universally seen (and portrayed) as a sympathetic and tragic antagonist.

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* RootingForTheEmpire: Believe it or not, [[ValuesDissonance thanks Thanks to the anti-Semitism of the day,]] Shylock was likely written to be received as a straight-up menacing bad guy. In modern times, he is almost universally seen (and portrayed) as a sympathetic and tragic antagonist.
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