Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Merchant of Venice Act 1


day off? HA! that's hilarious!!! i had a little time to relax this morning, but i have spent most of my day cleaning, cooking, reading Shakespeare, grocery shopping, etc. i haven't even started studying my LUSH stuff yet. nor have i eaten dinner. nor have i done laundry or shower! eep eep eep! let's get this blog on the road!!!

act 1, scene 1
Antonio is depressed. his friends try to help him out of it, but he can't put his finger on exactly what it is that's wrong. it's not love. it's not his business, he's a successful merchant who's got ships going out to many places. he feels secure. what is it? attention turns away from his problems toward Bassanio's. he is in love with Portia, who lives nearby in Belmont. she, however, is a wealthy girl with many suitors. in order to win her love, he needs to make a seriously good impression. although he already owes Antonio money, Bassanio asks to double his debt in order to win Portia. once he is married to her, he will have enough money to pay Antonio back. Antonio is perfectly willing to help, but all of his money is out at sea. the two friends decide to look around and see who they can borrow money from on Antonio's credit.

act 1, scene 2
Portia is a weary young lady. her father is dead and her suitors are many. her late father created a riddle of sorts that all of her suitors must go through. the one who passes can marry her. Portia's waiting woman, Nerissa, tries to remind Portia of how fortunate she is, and asks her if she is interested in any of her suitors in particular. Portia names and describes them all, quite wittily, and it becomes clear that she is interested in none of them. Nerissa tells her that the suitors are all unhappy with the riddle, and intend to go home anyway. she also reminds Portia of Bassanio. Nerissa thinks Bassanio would be a good match for Portia, and Portia agrees that he is praise-worthy.

act 1, scene 3
Bassanio asks Shylock to loan him 3,000 ducats for 3 months. Antonio will be bound to re-pay. Shylock is intrigued, and wants to talk to Antonio. in an aside, we learn that Shylock secretly hates Antonio. here's why: he's a Christian, he lends money willy-nilly, he is prejudiced against the Jews, and he openly speaks out against Shylock and his business. Antonio arrives. he makes it clear to Shylock that he would never normally borrow from him, but he has to for his friend. Antonio does not agree with the practice of charging interest on a loan. Shylock tries to tell a story from the Bible to support his stance, but Antonio shoots it down. Shylock then rips into Antonio hard core. (see quote below. it's epic.) Antonio will not refuse for being prejudiced against Shylock. he has spat on him before, and he will do it again. he tells Shylock not to lend as a friend, but as an enemy, which he is. Shylock agrees to it, and for sport offers this challenge: if Antonio doesn't re-pay the 3000 ducats in 3 months, Shylock will take a pound of Antonio's flesh. any pound he wants. Antonio agrees. (?!?) Bassanio begs him not to, but Antonio is absolutely positive that he will have the money in time. the money is due in 3 months, and his ships are due back in 2 months. they set off to make their deal official and notarized.

fun fact i probably should've known, but didn't: the Portia in this play is the same as in his later play, Julius Caesar. cool! i honestly didn't even think about it, but i'm glad i know now. it will be fun to see where the connections are.

is Antonio stupid? first he lets his friend, who already owe him a bunch of money, borrow more money! he insults Shylock and tells him to lend to him as if to an enemy. for real? is he dumb? and THEN he agrees to this crazy pound of flesh idea? why would you agree to that?!?!?!okay, if you tell your moneylender to treat you like an enemy, and then tell him he can have a pound of your flesh, you deserve to lose that pound! bye Antonio!

hm... another Shakespeare play where picking sides is difficult. very difficult. Shakespeare sure is good at that. i've noticed that he will set you up in the first couple of acts to either not know whose side to be on, and just when you think you know whose side you're on... BOOM! he switches it up on you. he's done that to me at least twice already, and i have a feeling that it's going to happen again. i have to say that right now i am on Shylock's side hard core. yeah, he's a little villainy, but he's also the victim of social injustice hard CORE and obviously much smarter than Antonio. whose side are you on?

quote of the day:
'Signor Antonio, many a time and oft
in the Rialto you have rated me
about my moneys and my usances.
still have i borne it with a patient shrug,
for sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
you call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
and spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
and all for use of that which is mine own.
well then, it now appears you need my help.
go to, then. you come to me and you say,
"Shylock, we would have moneys" -- you say so,
you, that did void your rheum upon my beard
and foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
over your threshold. Moneys is your suit.
what should i say to you? should i not say,
"hath a dog money? is it possible
a cur can lend three thousand ducats?" or
shall i bend low, and in a bondman's key,
with bated breath and whispering humbleness, say this:
"fair sir, you spit on me on wednesday last,
you spurned me such a day, another time
you called me dog, and for these courtesies
i'll lend you thus much moneys"?'
   -Shylock; act 1, scene 3

for tomorrow: act 2!

-rebecca may

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