Monday, June 4, 2007
More Shakespeare quotes
"I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you."
- From The Merchant of Venice (I, iii, 35-39)
And so we meet Shylock, one of the most fascinating and controversial characters in Shakespeare's canon. Some critics argue that Shakespeare's Shylock is a stereotype, a completely villainous Jew, reflecting the anti-Semitism of the times. Others contend that Shylock is a tragic figure. In this scene, we are introduced to him for the first time, as a moneylender to whom Antonio (the Merchant) eventually turns in order to help his friend Bassanio court Portia, a beautiful, wealthy heiress. Bassanio has invited Shylock to meet Antonio at dinner, an invitation that Shylock declines. He declares that he will do business with Christians but will not interact with them socially. Just then Antonio comes along, and in an aside Shylock talks of his dislike for him, as Antonio lends money without charging interest and thus competes with the professional usurers of Venice.