Lawyers and Judges Address Shylock's Case
Edna Nahshon and Michael Shapiro, eds., Wrestling with Shylock: Jewish Responses to The Merchant of Venice (NY: Cambridge U Press, 2017), 105-119.
12 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2018 Last revised: 2 Aug 2018
Date Written: February 1, 2017
From the early 19th century to the present, lawyers and judges have fruitfully contributed to the ongoing discussions about Shylock: his character, his motivations, and the rightness or wrongness of his legal claims. In so doing, they further a tradition, beginning perhaps with Heine, that validates Shylock in most respects and that helpfully engages the text's clear indications, often from the mouth of Portia, that the mainstream Venetian characters are loose and egocentric men, casual oath-breakers, and no respecters of law or love. Legal analysts, many but not all of them Jewish, are identified, ranging from the eminent German Rudolf von Ihering (and an Austro-Germanic tradition that follows him to this day) to late 20th and early 21st century American essayists.
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