The Merchant of Venice | Critical Essay by James Shapiro

This literature criticism consists of approximately 47 pages of analysis & critique of The Merchant of Venice.
This section contains 13,803 words
(approx. 47 pages at 300 words per page)
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Critical Essay by James Shapiro

SOURCE: "The Pound of Flesh," in Shakespeare and the Jews, Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 113-30.

In the following essay, Shapiro discusses the Elizabethan fascination with the Jewish practice of circumcision and argues that Shylock's desire to cut a pound of Antonio's "fair flesh" centers on the threat of circumcision.

What a matter were it then if I should cut of his privy members, supposing that the same would altogether weigh a just pound?

spoken by the Jew in the English translation of Alexander Silvayn's The Orator, 1596

I hope I shall never be so stupid as to be circumcised. I would rather cut off the left breast of my Catherine and of all women.

Martin Luther, c. 1540

Perhaps the least explicable feature of the ritual murder accusations was the charge that Jews first circumcised their victims before killing them...

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This section contains 13,803 words
(approx. 47 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by James Shapiro