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beautiful, that judging from the words themselves, without reference to an ultimate design, a hearer would at once proclaim Shylock to have been the disciple of Jesus uttering a Christian reproof to a descendant of Barabbas :Shylock. Why, look
It seems impossible that any thing can be better conceived or expressed than the above speech. Shakespeare constantly uses the word kind as applied to kindred (a whole page of instances might be quoted.)-Antonio, whilst most outrageously violating not only good manners, but common decency, by the adoption of language wounding in the extreme to Shylock, has used the words Friends and Enemies. Shylock in his dealings only knows Brothers and Strangers, and tenders a return of good for evil by offering to forget his wrongs and treat with Antonio as with a Brother.
Antonio, This were Kindness.
Shylock. This Kindness will I show.
Be nominated for an equal pound
Antonio Content, i'faith; I'll seal to such a bond
Bassanio. You shall not seal to such a bond for me,
Antonio. Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it,
Shylock. O Father Abraham, what these Christians are,
Antonio. 'Yes, Shylock, I'll seal unto this bond.
Shylock. Then meet me forthwith at the Notary's;
[Exit Shylock." 1 Antonio. Hie thee, gentle Jew:
7 16,441 G This Hebrew will turn Christian; he grows KIND. ; : Those who know these speeches merely from having heard them delivered on the stage, would find it difficult to catch the author's meaning. Every Shylock who has held his place in the London Theatres for the last 50 years has proposed the terms of the bond in a manner, not only at variance with the open professions of Shylock, and the received impressions of Antonio, but also certainly destructive of the accomplishment of Shylock's secret object. Antonio himself would at once have seen the malicious intention ; nay, Bassanio, for whose benefit alone the bond was to be given, instead of merely coqueting with his maudling — Oh I can't suffer you to do this on my account,'—would have been bound to say at once 'I see by this rascal's manner, which is directly at variance with his words, that he seeks your life—let us go to some other usurer, and I'll pay a thumping rate of interest.--Your security is known to be as good as that of any man
in Venice, it is only a question of rate of usance, and my object can afford great liberality.'—The consummate skill of the Poet has not been done justice to by the Actor. Shylock is approaching the extreme point of management:-he has paved the way by professing, in deference to Antonio's strong aversion to usury, to treat him substantially as a Brother :-He says“Give me your single bond that is to say, for the single sum I lend you, not increased in any way,but as the form of security for loans usually gives a penalty, and as I cannot, without imputation of violating our law, openly deal
with you except as a Stranger, why we must have a FORFEITURE;-I therefore, in a merry sport and to prove the spirit in which I deal, will fix the most ridiculous condition that can well be conceived,-namely, that if-to use the common jargon of the law, you repay me not-on such a day—in such a place—such sum or sums as are expressed in the condition—I shall receive in place of my 3000 ducats an equal pound of your fair flesh, with the advantage of taking it from what PART of your body pleaseth me, A most usurious advantage truly!!—And what says Antonio to this?—Why,— Content, i’faith, I enter into the spirit of your design, and this is treating me like a Brother, as far as your laws will allow.' Antonio's reply to Bassanio is as much as to say, 'Let him alone,-every man has his own way of showing kindness, and this is Shylock's way.' Nay, after the objection has been urged by Bassanio, and his maudlin interference exposed and properly rebuked, by Shylock, and when Shylock is no longer present, Antonio says, “Hie thee, gentle Jew; this Hebrew will turn Christian--He
kind.” The prompt and conclusive manner in which Shylock silences the objection which might interfere with his purpose, is worthy of admiration: as is the dignity with which he says to Bassanio, - If your Christian suspicions of the thoughts of others should still drive him to reject my proferred
friendship, do not in return for my love be mean enough to impute to me improper motives in making the offer.' The effect of this is heightened by Shylock's leaving it to Antonio HIMSELF to give proper instructions to the Notary for the MERRY BOND, whilst Shylock goes to purse the Ducats. The last line spoken by Shylock in this matchless scene, displays the whole state of his feeling:
“And presently I will be with you.”
The specious smile to Antonio, blended with the chuckle of inward exultation at the success of the finely-concerted scheme for revenge, are quite conclusive of Shylock’s intention to presently be with them to COMPLETE the much-desired and very sportive bargain.
This scene closes the first act, and the Author has bestowed on it extraordinary care, that the true character and purpose of Shylock may be fully developed at an early period of the play.To be eminently successful, a scheme of revenge should not only be deeply laid, but must be smooth and plausible on the surface.--In the management of his device Shylock greatly transcends Iago, and every other character by the same author; not only is the incitement to rem venge in itself more stimulating, but it also furnishes more plausible grounds for palliation