Chapter

Conversion

Kenneth Gross

in Shylock Is Shakespeare

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226309774
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309927 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226309927.003.0010
Conversion

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Defeated by Portia's law tricks and subject to the judgment of the Venetian court, Shylock is told that he must on pain of death become a Christian. This chapter argues the demand for conversion has in it the inventiveness of a cynical malice. It is the last twist of the knife in the staged humiliation of this Jew, one that tries to outmatch the Jew's humiliation of the merchant. By just so obviously not having any inward force, the idea of conversion reminds us of the more intractable spaces of mind and imagination the play has opened up in Shylock, even as it seems like an attempt to shut them down, or simply make them irrelevant.

Keywords: Shylock; conversion; Christianity; Jews

Chapter.  6432 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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