[NOTE: If you missed class on Tuesday, please pick up the handout in the box on my door. You'll need it for the questions below and our discussion on Thursday.]
Answer TWO of the following:
Q1: How does Leggatt view the role of Shylock and the possibility of anti-Semitism in the play? Since he calls this play a “comedy,” how does he account for Shylock’s presence in such a comedy? What might he mean when he says, “these readings [sympathy for Shylock] are allowed rather than compelled by the text” (216)?
Q2: Related to the above, how does he view the role of Jessica in Act 5? Does she complicate or conform to the demands of comedy? What might he mean when he suggests that “Her uneasiness also makes a revealing contrast with Portia’s attitude to her disguise, and suggests there may be a parallel between the two women” (219)?
Q3: According to Gross’ essay, “From Comical to Tragical,” when did the tide begin to turn for reading The Merchant of Venice as more “Shylock’s tragedy” than “Portia’s comedy”? What did it take for audiences to begin to see the Shylock we know so well today? Does Gross suggest whether this is actually in the script, or it came from the actors’ imagination?
Q4: Often, other forms of literature can have a profound affect on how we read historical works, including Shakespeare. What role did Edgeworth’s novel, Harrington, play in shaping public perception of Shylock? How could a novel, which has nothing to do with the stage, somehow change our understanding of a theatrical performance?