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  4. Failures of Eating in The Merchant of Venice

Our family enjoys this way of reading his plays. But this year, our time commitment out of the home was not allowing me the time to make this happen. Am I glad I did! We have listened to other recordings and were not pleased with them. Usually, we could not understand everything being said because of poor elocution or speaking too fast. We have not had that problem at all and have loved the dramatic style of the reading actors. Launcelot, the comic relief, is our favorite. I grieved at the idea that we were dropping Mr.

Not so, and what a find in the midst of struggle. Needed it for a class immediately. CD sticks on the very first track I tried it on two different CD players. Otherwise, would have been a good buy. Needed it for a class immediately, so could not return it for a replacement.

One person found this helpful. If you are teaching Shakespeare and you want a good cd to liven up the readings in your class, this will work well. In fact, the entire series by this organization seems to be very good. I own Macbeth, MoV, and Hamlet, and all of them are very good. They are excellent supplements to our class readings.

I listened to this for the diction more than anything. I was expressly interested in the Shylock scenes as part of my research into the character. Most of the scenes are good with decent energy level, but in others I was disappointed. If you want the experience of the performance this doesn't have that for you.

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If you're more interested in how Shakespeare's English is sounded out, this is an excellent tool. Excellent as always by this vendor. I had no issues with the reading or the actors interpretation. I recommend reading the play as always before listening to the play. The voice of Shylock was well executed. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful.


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I had my 8th graders listen to this as we followed along in class. They found it VERY helpful to hear the emotions, pauses, and nuances of language. Lancelot Gobbo was fairly entertaining. As anyone who teaches Shakespeare knows, students often have a difficult time understanding the language of his plays.


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I have found that using audio versions of his plays in my classroom has really helped my students' comprehension. This is a great version of this play and my classes also got a kick out of the musical interludes. See all 14 reviews. We hunger for each other. Shylock and the Christians sit, for a moment, at the same table, eating the same foods and imbibing the same edifying lessons. Unfortunately, the chief lesson absorbed by both Jew and Christian is neither hospitality nor civility, as it would be at a proper humanist feast, but savagery — an eye for an eye, pound for pound.

The food at this feast is not humanism but humans. Yet eating does occur in the passage an awful lot, to the extent of becoming practically a master trope. Eating connects people, even when that eating is entrapping, or poisonous, or feeds nothing more, nor less, than the bile of revenge. First, eating involves the destruction, via ingestion, of one creature by another. Second, eating contributes to the formation of community through acts of sharing and commensality.

Humans are the only primates that share food while sitting around in a circle, exposing their teeth.

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Eating is still a site of potential violence; we are still dangerous when we bare our teeth. Any individual act of eating of necessity divides and destroys, even as it nourishes. But human eating has the potential to create — indeed can be the very essence of — the social bonding that produces the multifarious structures of human community and identity. In this passage and in The Merchant of Venice as a whole, we as readers or viewers must constantly negotiate between these two aspects of eating, the eating that destroys and the eating that unites.

Often these two elements of eating occur simultaneously. Eating unites — we are all fed with the same food, we all hope to find in a shared meal the sense of community that humans make and crave. And eating destroys — we use food to bait fish so that we can eat those fish, and sometimes those fish are other people, and sometimes the bait is other people too. We make community and we destroy it, mouths exposed, bent on love and revenge.

Gratiano calls Shylock a ravenous wolf. Shylock is radically empty — he has no interiority. Does revenge always take the form in Shakespeare, or in Renaissance drama, of hunger, and specifically of cannibalistic hunger? The obvious resonance — the proverbial bloodsucking usurer deprived of his chief form of sustenance — might have sounded familiar to a Renaissance audience.

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But blood also returns us, in a surprising way, to the kosher laws that introduce Shylock, and with which our discussion began. Because the laws were given to Noah rather than Moses — because, that is, the laws preceded the creation of the Jewish people — they were thought to apply to all peoples, not just Jews, and thus to have the force of universal ethical obligation. This posed a problem, however, because along with not giving food to idols, blood is the one food prohibition carried over from the Old Testament to the New.

The prohibition is in fact repeated twice, in Acts In the Renaissance, the theological question of whether Christians should abstain from blood-eating was by no means a settled one. In the Christian Exercise of Fasting , the Calvinist sabbatarian Henry Holland reasonably posed the radical question: An act expressly forbidden to Jews as, needless to say, is the homicide , and problematic for Christians?

Much has been made of the fact that Portia traps Shylock using the very words of his bond, but something more dramatic and theologically complex is going on here. Portia might be seen for this moment not just as a civil judge but as a Rabbinical one, presenting Shylock with his religious error — the error of a Jew who refuses, not Christian laws, but his own. But as with most analyses of the play, the message of this moment is considerably more ambiguous. If Shylock breaks several of the Noahide commandments, some literally and some symbolically, so do the Christians.

Most strikingly, having denied Shylock the right to take blood from a living being, the Duke promptly repeats the crime. When he announces that the state and Antonio will divide his wealth, Shylock responds by echoing Genesis 9: Now Antonio will proceed to remove the pound of spirit nearest the heart — his religion. In a sense, it is the legal system of Venice itself that is on trial in this scene: I cannot speak to the plausible range of Elizabethan reactions, but for most modern audiences, it is nearly impossible to do so.

Enmeshed in the very questions that the Noahide laws seek to answer, the scene may be viewed as replaying the fundamental moment of communal Biblical ethics — the first point at which God gives laws to a community instead of individuals such as Adam and Eve. Antonio retains his flesh as well as his ships, which arrive in port intact.

How far have we come from the project of rescuing animals to the project of rating humans as lower than animals? How far from the regeneration of the human species to the cutting loose of Belmont, that floating island, from the rest of the world? Marcus, Norton critical, New York, W. Antonio has already antagonized Shylock through his outspoken antisemitism, and because Antonio's habit of lending money without interest forces Shylock to charge lower rates. Shylock is at first reluctant to grant the loan, citing abuse he has suffered at Antonio's hand. He finally agrees to lend the sum to Bassanio without interest upon one condition: Bassanio does not want Antonio to accept such a risky condition; Antonio is surprised by what he sees as the moneylender's generosity no "usance" — interest — is asked for , and he signs the contract.

With money at hand, Bassanio leaves for Belmont with his friend Gratiano, who has asked to accompany him. Gratiano is a likeable young man, but is often flippant, overly talkative, and tactless. Bassanio warns his companion to exercise self-control, and the two leave for Belmont and Portia. Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1.


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Measure for Measure Folger Shakespeare Library. Sponsored products related to this item What's this? A new edition of classic prose versions of the complete tragicomedies. Illustrated with fresh and insightful introductions to each tale.

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A novel set in a neoliberal dystopia. Product details File Size: September 25, Sold by: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Rated by customers interested in. Is this feature helpful? Thank you for your feedback. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. The formatting of this book is maddening. It's like it was cut and pasted from one incompatible program to another and then never proofed before printing. Text abruptly cuts off for no reason and is continued on next line.

Also, stage directions are not bracketed or separated from text in any discernible way. Observe this example from page 5: None that I more love than myself. Use your authority; if you cannot, give thanks you have liv'd so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap. Exit I mean, what the hell was that? I will probably use this book to start fires. I hope the editor gets shot.

Failures of Eating in The Merchant of Venice

Amazon automatically edits out the awkward spaces, so you can't even get the full picture of just how horribly bad this book is. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. As noted by other reviewers, this edition provides but a fraction of what it promises. Beyond that, it does not even include a dramatis personnae, a hallowed standard for any dramatic work. Even the ratings provided by Kindle were for other Shakespeare plays.