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Forum namePass The Popcorn
Topic subjectRE: I have seen this, and I agree.
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=6&topic_id=229285&mesg_id=229837
229837, RE: I have seen this, and I agree.
Posted by prins777, Fri Nov-10-06 11:46 PM
>>Speaking of Al Pacino and Shakespeare, have you seen Michael
>>Radford's "The Merchant Of Venice" with Pacino as Shylock?
>>loved it. Pacino gives his best performance in years,
>>probably his best in decades.
>>Also Lynn Collins was incredible in the role of Portia.
>>Easily one of my most favorite performances by any actress
>>the last several years.
>I don't know about decades, but he was quite good, lol.
>My only problem is the revisionist history in it. I mean, yes,
>the anti-Semitism has to be dealt with, but in the original
>play, Shylock is one bad dude. He's not unlike Magneto-- yes,
>you have a reason for being pissed, but you gots to chill. I
>thought in the film they downplayed a lot of Shylock's more
>villainesque dialogue and played up the anti-Semitism.
>Granted, that's really the only way you can do Merchant of
>Venice now in a PC world. But that doesn't really make it ring
>true for me.

I am actually going to be teaching a course in the spring on Law and literature, and the Merchant of Venice is one of the books we will be reading. I have been looking into the various interpretations of Shylock and come to the conclusion that Shakespeare has purposely left him ambiguous. Is he a villain or a victim? We know that he has a reason to be pissed, but given the conditions in which Jews were forced to live and the indignities that they had to endure, can we truly say that Shylock's stance at the end of the play is villainesque? For example, would a slave who finally had the upper hand on his master be a villain if he tried to extract a little revenge under a lawful and binding agreement? Remember, Shylock initially set the parameters of the loan, not to be unreasonable, but in an effort to extend friendship. He knew that Christians looked down upon collecting interest, so instead of lending the money subject to interest, Shylock proposes that if the debt is not repaid he will take a pound of flesh. This is said in a facetious manner, given that Shylock had no reason to believe the debt would not be paid on time. It is not until he suffers the ultimate indignity of losing his daughter and his treasures that he demands the contract be executed literally.