Shakespeare, William

(1564–1616)
   English playwright and poet. Shakespeare made a Jew a leading character in one of his plays, The Merchant of Venice, which was produced in 1597– 8. This may have been prompted by the success of Marlowe’s Jew of Malta. The Jew in both plays is a stereotyped, dark, gesticulating moneylender. Although Shylock was created by a greater humanist than Marlowe’s Jew, it is evident that the audience was meant to feel horror at his insistence that the bond of a pound of flesh must be redeemed and to be delighted at his fall at the hands of Portia, legalism defeated by even greater legalism. Since the Romantic era there has been a tendency to see Shylock as a tragic figure, but there is no doubt that he was intended to inspire both ridicule and hatred. It is very unlikely that Shakespeare knew any Jews, but he was probably inspired by the trial of Dr LOPEZ, Queen Elizabeth’s Marrano physician, who was accused of attempting to poison the queen and hanged at Tyburn in 1594. This incident did much to revive popular hatred of the Jews. Curiously enough, in the Merchant of Venice Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, is presented as beautiful and intelligent and eager to leave her father for her Christian lover. These two stereotypes have tended to persist in English literature. The Merchant of Venice has been translated into Hebrew and performed in Israel, as have many other plays by Shakespeare. From the 18908 many of his plays were also adapted and translated into Yiddish. ‘Shylock’ and ‘pound of flesh’ have become common derogatory phrases in the English language, employed by many who have no knowledge of their literary origin but are aware of their anti-Jewish undertones.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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  • SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM° — (1564–1616), English playwright and poet. The Merchant of Venice (1596) has been claimed as the play in which Shakespeare found himself in the fullest sense. As with other major comedies of his so called second period, the main emphasis was to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Shakespeare, William — Shakespeare, William. Nicht länger vermocht es Orpheus, der thrakische Sänger, seine heiße Sehnsucht nach Eurydicen zu ertragen. Wohl lächelten die Blumen, der Himmel und die Fluren wie sonst; melodisch ertönten die Saiten seiner Lyra, und bei… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Shakespeare, William — (baptized April 26, 1564, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, Eng. died April 23, 1616, Stratford upon Avon) British poet and playwright, often considered the greatest writer in world literature. He spent his early life in Stratford upon Avon,… …   Universalium

  • SHAKESPEARE, William — (1564 1616) William Shakespeare was one of early modern England s most successful and celebrated playwrights, and since the eighteenth century he has often been re­garded as England s, perhaps the modern world s, greatest writer. There is… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Shakespeare, William — (1564 1616)    England s greatest drama tist. The son of a successful merchant and alderman of Stratford on Avon, he was educated in the excellent local school and learned enough Latin to become familiar with many classical authors, but he never… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Shakespeare, William — (1564 1616)    Dramatist and poet, b. at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, on 22nd or 23rd, and baptised on 26th April, 1564. On his father s side he belonged to a good yeoman stock, though his descent cannot be certainly traced beyond his… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Shakespeare, William — (1564 1616)    Playwright. Shakespeare s significance in the German theater has been and remains unique; many have gone so far as to argue that Shakespeare is a national playwright whose status equals that of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann… …   Historical dictionary of German Theatre

  • SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM —    great world poet and dramatist, born in Stratford on Avon, in Warwickshire; his father, John Shakespeare, a respected burgess; his mother, Mary Arden, the daughter of a well to do farmer, through whom the family acquired some property; was at… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Shakespeare, William — ► (1564 1616) Poeta y autor dramático inglés. Pintó con verdad emocionante y gran energía todos los sentimientos y todas las pasiones, con la potente libertad del genio. Su producción se divide en los siguientes géneros: comedias, como El sueño… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Shakespeare, William —    See Henry VI, Part 1; Henry VI, Part 2; Henry VI, Part 3; Richard III; Shakespeare and the Wars of the Roses …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

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