Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Merchant of Venice


My daughter and I read The Merchant of Venice out loud for her schoolwork. I had never read this play before, so it was a good chance for me. Explaining the history of anti-Semitism to a modern kid is quite a job, I must say, and we had some good discussions. Shylock's complex character was difficult for her to comprehend (and me too); here you have a fairly traditional set of people except for Shylock, who has perhaps sparked more arguments than any other Shakespearean character besides Hamlet. He has good reason to hate Antonio, but his determination to exact revenge eventually destroys him, and his enemies learn nothing.

I'm going to count this as the drama selection for the Mixing It Up Challenge! 11 down, 5 to go! But the rest will take longer, since I've chosen a pretty long history book. I don't have a cooking or travel selection yet, so recommendations are welcome.

I've just gotten around to watching the final episode of the first season of Downton Abbey. (I don't get much time to watch TV on my own.) Don't read any further if you don't want spoilers--Shylock's fixation on revenge and subsequent downfall makes me think of Edith and Mary, who are apparently so focused on doing each other down that they fail to notice that it gets them nowhere. Edith has good reason to dislike Mary for the contemptuous way Mary treats her, but her revenge hasn't gotten her very far and now they've both ensured that they will have to live together for a good long time--exactly what they least want. Not very clever of them. There, how's that for a frivolous comparison?

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