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TOPIC: Context and MV: More emendations

Context and MV: More emendations 6 years 9 months ago #4862

  • John W. Koch
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To improve my work (see my notes under THE MERCHANT OF VENICE) I will engage the scholarly criticism or critical discussion. When Shakespeare was about eight years old, news of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre may have reached Stratford. The relevance of this is partly attested to in the first scene in HAMLET and Hamlet's monologue in 4.4. Inspiration for the phrase "linguistic connections" was Professor Levenson's intro to THE OXFORD SHAKESPEARE ROMEO AND JULIET. The first and last lines of the first conversation in ROM, "Gregory, on my word we'll not carry coals............'Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been Poor John," are together a reference to the first line in THE GOSPEL OF JOHN: "In the beginning was the Word." References to fish and fishing are found toward the ending of JOHN and variations of "Henceforth thou shalt catch men" are found in the three prior gospels. Mercutio refers to fish(2.3). Given the above and the many other correspondencies found in MV to ROM one might then argue that part of dramatic interest in Shylock's speech that begins with the words "To bait fish withal"(3.1) is due to these connections. A book titled SHAKESPEARE'S HAPPY COMEDIES, by J. Dover Wilson was perhaps the chief inspiration to compare MV and ROM. In the criticism we find much comparison of ROM and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM. I would simply like to suggest that Shakespeare first presented MV only after ROM was a success(Q2 of ROM preceded publication of MV).
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