By Elliot Krieger
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Additional resources for A Marxist Study of Shakespeare’s Comedies
Consequently, Portia emphasizes the sexuality, and sometimes the attendant violence, in the masculine roles that she and Nerissa will adopt: ... they shall think we are accomplished With what we lack; (Ill. iv. 6I-62) I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two, And wear my dagger with the braver grace; (64- 5) ... and tell quaint lies How honorable ladies sought my love, Which I denying, they fell sick and died. I could not do withal. Then I'll repent, And wish, for all that, that I had not kill'd them.
34, and "I'll pay it instantly with all my heart", IV. i. 28 1). When Bassanio hazards all for lead-and for Portia-he has nothing to lose, precisely because his wealth The Merchant of Venice 27 runs in his veins; ifhe loses his fortune, he will still remain who he is and "a gentleman". This is another version of wealth as a quality, as something innate, but here we see how the view of wealth as an innate quality must be "fed" by external wealth, acquired material possessiOn. Bassanio's borrowing from Antonio in order to make his hazard in Belmont does not lead to a mutual risk-Bassanio's blood, Antonio's gold; rather, only in bourgeois Venice do the protagonists experience or feel the consequences of Belmont hazardry: aristocratic credit, the "rich blood" that "speaks" for Bassanio in Belmont (Ill.
IO) but utterly meaningless outside of the class context in which the play develops them. The initial difference at least between Shylock's and Bassanio's "thrift" and degree of generosity should be obvious: Shylock's "well-won thrift" is his own, is earned (1. iii. 50), whereas Bassanio's is borrowed, and, in a sense, in the mind: "I have a mind presages me such thrift", (I. i. I 7 5). Bassanio, that is, thrives because he thinks that he should and convinces others that he will: he precisely illustrates the social application of aristocratic 24 A Marxist Study of Shakespeare's Comedies credit, the financial success that follows fast upon social belonging.
A Marxist Study of Shakespeare’s Comedies by Elliot Krieger