S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.10 (1983) (인문논총)
복수 對 자비
Revenge vs. Mercy: A Study of The Merchant of Venice
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학
- 인문논총, Vol.10, pp. 17-36
- The Merchant of Venice was the first play of Shakespere for me to read in 1937 when I was a sophomore of a college in Japan. It distracted me because I was a young college student learning English literature when Korea was governed by the Japanese colonial policy. Of course I didn't favor for Shylock who cared nothing but money for which he was ready to sacrifice his daughter. Some two decades later when I visited London I had a chance to attend the Old Vic Production of The Merchant of Venice. I forgot the actor who enacted Shylock hanging more than a dozen of locks in front of his black robe that was enough to cause a disgusting feeling against the usurer Jew. However my feeling and impression of the play has been changed a lot since I taught the play several times since 1957, finding out the sources of the plots of bond story and casket story were originated from an ancient story of Judea being translated into Italian and English. The author has been impartial about the plot taking no sides. Especially the extant trend of the Elizabethan period was well reflected by this play. Portia, a symbol of the Providence as an angel persuading evil, egocentric Jew with the quality of Mercy. It is true she didn't expect him to be friendly with Antonio against whom he bore a deeply-rooted hatred and antagonism. But eventually mercy could prevail over the justice which is manipulated by human device. Also I was highly impressed by Goethe's remark that Shakespeare was not only a playwright but a psychologist. He could so thoroughly analysed the hearts of the main charcters, such as Shylock, Portia, Antonio and Bassanio. So remarkable is the fact that this play is maintaining the popularity only second to Hamlet. It is so desirable that any reader trying to appreciate this play must beforehand get rid of any prejudice or pre concept against Christian or Jews.