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Session four


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Session four

  1. 1. William Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice
  2. 2. Next session (March 9) discussion with the Shakespeare Company’s director Maria Bassé Mortensen about The Merchant of Venice with a focus on Shylock
  3. 3. The issue of second-hand clothes
  4. 4. Cosmic order “being that order which God before all ages hath set down with himself, for himself to do all things by”
  5. 5. Cosmic order “If the Elizabethans believed in an ideal order animating earthly order, they were terrified lest it should be upset, and appalled by the visible tokens of disorder that suggested its upsetting.” (Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture)
  6. 6. Cosmic order and law “His [Hooker in Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity ] name for it is law, law in its general sense. Above all cosmic or earthly orders or laws there is Law in general, ‘that Law which giveth life unto all the rest which are commendable just and good, namely the Law whereby the Eternal himself doth work’.” (Tillyard)
  7. 7. Sin and salvation “You could revolt against it but you could not ignore it. Atheism not agnosticism was the rule. It was far easier to be very wicked and think of yourself so than to be a little wicked without a sense of sin.” (Tillyard)
  8. 8. Sin and salvation Sin brings disorder and chaos; the only way to salvation is to contemplate the divine order of the created universe.
  9. 9. Comedies and gender “The heroines of Shakespeare’s comic marriage-plots perform wonders on their own behalf but they also help to make their world safe for men’s cultural privilege.” (Danson, Shakespeare’s Dramatic Genres )
  10. 10. Comedies and gender “But the girl-disguised-as-a-boy also changes what she preserves […] the distribution of gendered power, on stage and possibly even in the society staged, will never look quite the same.” (Danson)
  11. 11. Comedies and gender “The social androgyny of Shakespeare’s comic heroines (whether literally disguised or not) derives also from the doubleness of their embodiment in language.” (Danson)
  12. 12. Comedies and gender “In the tragedies men get the soliloquies […] But in the comedies the big speeches are as likely to belong to a Portia as to a Shylock; and regardless of size, they are speeches of power which undo masculine folly or rage, and permit comic closure.” (Danson)