Merchant of Venice Essay: Refuting the Critics

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In The Jew of Venice, Granville takes up and refutes the principal "subversions," in The Merchant of Venice that modern and postmodern critics have imposed upon on the play. Without its’ alleged contradictions, the play has a tight formalist structural unity, it focuses on an essentialist Platonic idea, and, resolving all conflicts, it ends in closure. On the topic of Antonio's sadness, Granville picks up a clue that to my knowledge no modern critic has noticed. In his "methodizing" process, he moved Antonio's play-opening line--"I know not why I am so sad"--to Bassan- io's feast, between the toasts and the masque, and merged it with Jessica's fifth act misgiving--"I am never merry when I hear sweet music" (5.1.69). Listening to the music at his friend's feast, Granville's Antonio laments, O Bassanio! There sits a heaviness upon my heart Which wine cannot remove: I know not But music ever makes me thus. (2.2.35-38) Lorenzo's comforting answer to Jessica in act 5 of Shakespeare's play then becomes Bassanio's comforting answer to Antonio act 2 of Granville's: The reason is, your spirits are attentive: &nb... ... middle of paper ... ... spoils." In The Jew of Venice, Granville, who resides in Shakespeare's own moral community, takes up and refutes the principal "subversions," "leaks," "interrogations," and "dark shadows" in The Merchant of Venice that modern and postmodern critics, working from what I argue are irrelevant post- capitalist prejudices, have imposed upon on the play. Without its’ alleged contradictions, the play has a tight formalist structural unity, it focuses on an essentialist Platonic idea, and, resolving all conflicts, it ends in closure. Unless there are other reasons than those commonly given for alleging that The Merchant of Venice is "multivalent and "plural" in meaning, we will have to assume, for the time being at least, that it isn't.

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