Monday, December 21, 2015

Tim Johnson — Why did Shakespeare portray the Merchant of Venice as Christ-like?


On the economics behind The Merchant of Venice.

Money, Maths and Magic
Why did Shakespeare portray the Merchant of Venice as Christ-like?
Tim Johnson | Lecturer (associate professor) in the Department of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

3 comments:

Random said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35153795
"Bacteria that resist the antibiotic of last resort - colistin - have been discovered in the UK.
Officials say the threat to human health is low, but is under ongoing review.
Scientists warned the world was on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era when such resistance was discovered in China last month.
Now checks have discovered the same resistance on three farms and in samples of human infections.
When all other antibiotics fail then doctors turn to colistin - that's why it is so important."
What the fuck? Humanity is doomed. Why wasn't this banned yesterday.
"Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics says 837kg of colistin was sold to British farms in 2014.
Coilin Nunan, from the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said: "We need the government, the European Commission and regulatory bodies like the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to respond urgently."

Matt Franko said...

"Augustinian doctrine centres on the idea that everyone is born into a state of ‘Original Sin’, and left to their own devices they are incapable of being anything other than selfish;"

This doctrine is manifestly false there are MANY good/non-selfish among us... (not saying I am one of them....)

The whole "Merchant" play was written and takes place under the metals while the Greek Scriptures were written during a time when we were NOT under the metals so Shakespeare (not knowing the difference...would be verified if he is seen literally using the word 'munnie' or referring to the metals by name...) has no choice but to depict chaotic/misguided events of the era as the play in fact depicts...

If he has one of his characters appearing in the role of Christ amidst all of that chaos it will thus be a confused depiction... better to read the Greek scriptures themselves to obtain knowledge of Christ rather than a Shakespeare play...

Dan Kervick said...

I think this reading is simple-minded. Although Shakespeare's plays often draw on medieval morality plays, Shakespeare was not a simple-minded morality play writer whose characters are one-dimensional allegories or personifications of specific virtues and vices. His characters are complicated and mercurial, encompass self-contradictions and present multiple views to the audience under different perspectives.

To think that Shakespeare both sees Antonio as the embodiment of Christian agape, and also thinks agape is properly expressed by spitting on and kicking people in the street is to think Shakespeare is a bigoted moral dolt.

Jessica remorselessly sells the ring her mother gave to her father as a betrothal gift in order to run off with her boyfriend Lorenzo. Far from having no love in his heart at all, we find out that Shylock's memory of his dead wife is the last sustaining love he has in a world in which he is otherwise treated like a dog by the stylish paragons of the dominant culture. He becomes a full monster after his daughter's betrayal, which cuts that last bond, but his descent into monstrousness is well-motivated in the play.

Portia makes grand speech about Christian mercy, but she is also a bit of a catty snob, as we see in her early conversations with her lady-in-waiting Nerissa. She lives up on her remote "beautiful mountain" as an independently wealthy heiress, floating above all of the commercial hubbub of the Rialto, but floats down to save the day for her nice, handsome but somewhat opportunistic and irresponsible boyfriend with legal cleverness.

There is a deep sadness pervading the play; all of the characters are obscured from themselves by masks of self-deception and hypocrisy.