Measure for Measure: Shakespeare at the merciful concordant crossroads

As my reading of Measure for Measure comes to a close in the next week or so, I find myself trying to look at the bigger picture, of Measure for Measure’s place in the Canon. With this play, we come to the end of the string of problem plays that precede the great tragedies (next fall’s Timon of Athens’ categorization as a problem play, is debatable… many [as I may in the future, like I did to Troilus and Cressida in this past summer] see it as a tragedy). We come to an end of the comedies most definitely. And so I look back on those problem plays and comedies to find connections.

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Podcast 55: The Merchant of Venice Casts, Concepts, and Final Thoughts

This week’s podcast concludes our month-long discussion of The Merchant of Venice with a few final thoughts on the play, the discussion of a possible production concept or two, and some casting suggestions. Then, we’ll finish up with our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
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The Merchant of Venice: Final Thoughts

OK, I’d usually spend more time on a final note (and I might just revisit this in the opening days of next month), but as I’m out of town for a water polo tournament (Go Spartans!) and it’s Halloween weekend, Pa’s recovering from cataract surgery, Grandma B is seeing neurologists because of recurring minor strokes, Lisa’s battling either migraines or anti-migraine meds (take your pick which is worse), and I’m submitting paperwork for a new job (finally), as well as stories for a couple of contests/publications [yeah, I know… blah, blah, blah], I’m going to bare-bones this one:
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The Merchant of Venice: numbers overall

The Merchant of Venice

  • 2579 total lines; shorter than average play and problem play (average play: 2777; average problem play: 2837… shorter than the average comedy, too–2424)
  • At 455 lines, Act Four, Scene One is the longest of its kind in the Canon
  • At 79 lines, Act Two, Scene Seven is the shortest of its kind in the Canon
  • Act One: 492 lines; shorter than average (average play: 590, average problem play: 572… slightly longer than the average comedy, though–488)
  • Act Two: 656 lines; longer than the average play; slightly shorter than average problem play (average play: 568, average problem play: 667… much longer than the average comedy, though–495)
  • Act Three: 650 lines; longer than average (average play: 576, average problem play: 579… much longer than the average comedy, too–512)
  • Act Four: 474 lines; shorter than average (average play: 563, average problem play: 541… only slightly longer than the average comedy, though–460)
  • Act Five: 307 lines; shorter than average (average play: 480, average problem play: 476… much shorter than the average comedy, too–471)
  • 562 lines of prose (21.79% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 13.31%, Titus Andronicus: 1.39%, The Taming of the Shrew: 20.82%, 1HenryVI: 0.37%, 2HenryVI: 16.64%, 3HenryVI: 0.14%, Richard III: 2.89%, Love’s Labor’s Lost: 35.08%, The Two Gentlemen of Verona: 26.81%, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: 19.75%, Romeo and Juliet: 14.18%, and King John: 0.0%])
  • 133 rhyming lines (5.16% of total lines [as opposed to Comedy: 20.10%, Titus: 2.42%, Taming: 3.93%, 1HenryVI: 9.79%, 2HenryVI: 3.16%, 3HenryVI: 5.37%, Richard III: 7.55%, LLL: 40.86%, 2Gents: 35.08%, Midsummer: 43.5%, Romeo: 16.61%, and King John: 6.19%])
  • 20 scenes; about the same as average (average play: 21; average problem play: 21… more than the average comedy, too–16)
  • only 23 characters (less than average play: 36, about the same as average problem play: 26… comedy, too–22])

The Merchant of Venice: midpoint

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory midpoint theory midpoint theory, let’s take a look at The Merchant of Venice.
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What to Cut?

In the past, we’ve discussed the concept of what to cut what to cut (especially in terms of the really long Richard the Third ). In that case, we were dealing mostly with the concept of length. In the case of The Merchant of Venice, however, it’s not so much the length (as it has fewer than the average number of lines) but a matter of focus that drives us to the question: What to Cut?
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The Only Thing Lower than a Jew in Venice is a Woman

OK, so it’s bad to be a Jew in the Venice of The Merchant of Venice. And as we discussed yesterday, not so good to be gay, either, leading to a possible case of massive self-loathing (at least in the case of our titular Merchant, Antonio). And of course Lancelot knows that it stinks to be a slave no matter where you are. But who’s worse off in our play of the month?

Women.
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I Think I Know Why Antonio Is So Sad

At the opening of The Merchant of Venice, our titular merchant says “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad” (I.i.1). And while his friends try to help him out with possible reasons, even prompting a non-denial denial non-denial denial by Antonio that he is in love, the reason remains unclear at best.

But if it is a non-denial denial, then who is the object of Antonio’s affection? Bassanio, of course. Now I know that we’ve delved into this male friendship over romantic love male friendship over romantic love argument before in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, but I think here we really are dealing with homosexual love.
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Podcast 54: The Mechant of Venice… the DVDs, Part Two

This week’s podcast contnues our month-long discussion of The Merchant of Venice with the remaining reviews of DVDs of Merchant productions, as well as a discussion of another recent Shakespeare film, and we finish up with our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
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Me Not So Bawdy

[WARNING: ADULT LANGUAGE AHEAD]

Given Shakespeare’s penchant for building dichotomies, it’s not surprising that one of the sexually driest plays in the Canon (plot-wise) should garner us a boatload of bawdy references… of course, none of them sink to the “greasiness” of Love’s Labor’s Lost. Regardless, let’s dip our big… uh, toe, in that pool of bawd(il)y fluids in The Merchant of Venice.

The bawdy references basically fall under two headings here: comic and not-so-comic.
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