Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Helm Street
Home
Papers
Palm Stuff
Europics
LYNX
Merchant

Back to Shakespeare

Blooms essay on The Merchant of Venice centered mainly on his idea that the major wrong of the play id done toward Shylock. I agree, to some extent. However I would never say "the gratuitous outrage of a forced conversion to Venetian Christianity surpasses all bounds of decency." Has he forgotten what Shylocks proposed justice was? A pound of flesh! Yet, Bloom seems to think that this is ok, because Antonios hatred is based upon racial prejudice and Shylocks upon his being reactionary. While racial prejudice is wrong, it has in our time become the sin. In his book, Five moral pieces, Umberto Eco argues that tolerance is todays ultimate value. He calls intolerance a reaction to the "trauma of difference," and follows by saying, "the doctrines of difference ...exploit a preexisting and diffuse reservoir of intolerance." (p. 100) In some ways this is Ecos redefinition of the T in TULIP. Total depravity now means an innate desire to be intolerant. Shylock and Antonio both reach deep within this reservoir as they interact with each other. Yet, of the two Shylock is to be preferred. Antonios hatred is unfounded, pure intolerance based upon imagined differences. Shylock however has at least gone to the trouble of reading his enemys scripture and learned about the ways of the land, regardless of the fact that this may be only to better punish his opponent. In choosing between the two Portia must resort to the one thing they both respect: the contract. Throughout the play the contract, whether it be that of the city itself, or merely that of Antonios debt, is a central image. Portias shrewd interpretation of the contract is what leads to a happy ending. Yet we are left with the feeling that she is stretching the limits of interpretation, and could just as easily have won the case for the other side is she, and the majority, were so inclined. What does this say about truth as represented in Venice? It is just another commodity to be bought and sold, as Shylock trades it for his life.


Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "
GNU Free Documentation License".

Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "
GNU Free Documentation License".