Dec 10 2012

Weblography

Filed under Second Paper

The Comedy of Errors: entire play (accessed Oct 2, 2012)

The Merry Wives of Wisdom: entire play (accessed Nov 20, 2012)

The Merchant of Venice: entire play (accessed Dec 5, 2012)

Internet Shakespeare Editions (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

Enotes (accessed Dec 8, 2012):

- Illustration of The Merchant of Venice

- Quotes of The Merchant of Venice

Cliffsnotes (accessed Dec 8, 2012):

- Quotes of The Merry wives of Windsor

Royal Shakespeare Company  (accessed Dec 8, 2012):

- Quotes of The Comedy of Errors

Utah Shakespeare Festival (accessed Dec 9, 2012):

- "My Daughter, My Ducats"; M. Flachmann

- "For Love or Money"; G. Pilkington and A. M. Pilkingtoncle

A word to the wise: First Paper (accessed Dec 9, 2012)

Illustration of The Comedy of Errors from Bartleby.com (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

Illustration of The Merry Wives of Windsor from Bridgemanart (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

 

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Dec 09 2012

Conclusion

Filed under Second Paper

Through exploration of the topic of "money" in different Shakespeare comedies we can extrait some meaningful conclusions. Hence, it is posible to observe the general differences between the treatment and importance of money in the different three plays:

1) The Comedy of errors: in this play, money functions as a bussiness element and as an object of desire to all the characters. The mobility of money is a way of life and society is fully developed around bussiness and trade. The play reflects a realist scenery of a capitalist society.

2) The Merchant of Venice: in this play, money is (as in The Comedy of Errors) the center of life. However, in this story enter in scene imagination and allegory. The importance money has in society and for the characters is huge and its influence is absolutely significant for the development of the plot. The story is radically centered in the figure of money and neither love nor comedy are powerful enough to depose the eminence of money. The play is devoted to the importance of money in society in an excessive and, almost caricaturised manner. This central topic has the goal of giving a moral lesson with this play, the idea that a society cannot be exclusively devoted to money, exclusing love or family boundaries.

3) The merry wives of Windsor: this play is, essentially, a fantastic pastoral comedy related to love and pure comedy. However, we can see the influx of money here. This is not a play centered in money, but indeed money makes its apparition in scene with Falstaff's greed for richness and research for whealthy by trying to marry a rich woman. The most important concept in the analysis of this play in relation to money is not the importance of money itself, but its simple apparition in a story which, in first sight, is not about trade or bussiness and does not have any necessity of it.

Finally, we can also extrait a general conclusion from this elements. Money is always present in Shakespeare work. Its importance is absolutely trascendental in all his plays, which clearly reflected the society of his time, the Elizabethan world, where capitalism was rising and the economic basis was becoming in a system completely focused in trade and economic movements. A capitalist system which is, nowadays, walking to its crashing.

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Dec 09 2012

Money in The Merry Wives of Windsor

Filed under Second Paper

Comedies are supposed to be about love as surely as tragedies are supposed to be about death. As Harold Bloom said, “The tradition is that Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives . . . in response to Queen Elizabeth’s request to show Sir John in love” (Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human [New York: Riverhead Books, 1998], 315). But Shakespeare is never that simple, and he is far more likely to revise and reverse a pattern than he is to follow it. Park Honan traces the legend of The Merry Wives of Windsor to John Dennis in 1702 and to Rowe seven years after that. In Honan's words, “Falstaff is not in love, just broke, and hopes with identical love letters to seduce both Mistress Page and Mistress Ford and so live off both” (Shakespeare: A Life [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998], 223).

Indeed, with the possible exception of Anne Page, it is difficult to identify anyone at the beginning of the play who is unequivocally in love in the way one expects characters in a comedy to be in love. Ford seems to have no positive feelings for his wife but is profoundly and unreasonably jealous. Mrs. Ford is as displeased with her husband as he is jealous of her, and when Ford is caught in the trap the two wives set for Falstaff, Mrs. Ford says, “I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or Sir John” (The Folger Library Shakespeare: The Merry Wives of Windsor, eds. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar [New York: Washington Square Press, 1964], 3.3.168–9). The Pages, although in ordinary circumstances a loving and trusting couple, are fighting over which suitor their daughter should marry. Doctor Caius and Slender, who are the candidates of Mrs. Page and Mr. Page respectively, are as unattractive a pair of suitors as ever convinced a girl that marriage was a fate worse than death. Anne says of Slender, “Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool” (3.4.90). Her opinion of Caius is even lower. When her mother suggests that Anne marry him, she declares, “I had rather be set quick I’ the earth / And bowled to death with turnips” (3.4.94-5).

Fenton, according to the Host’s description, best fits the pattern of a young lover, “What say you to young Master Fenton? He capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May. He will carry’t” (3.2.62-66). But Fenton has a host of drawbacks. In addition to keeping company with the wild prince and Poins, he has serious financial difficulties which he hopes to solve by marrying. He admits to Anne, “Thy father’s wealth was the first motive that I wooed thee” (3.4.14-15).

This, as Benedick says in Much Ado about Nothing, “Looks not like a nuptial.” However, the various actions in The Merry Wives of Windsor move inexorably toward the natural ending of a comedy—the marriage of two young lovers. Ironically, it is Falstaff who bears the burden of this transition. Falstaff destabilizes everyday life in the small town of Windsor. Because of him a husband runs nearly mad with jealousy, wives deceive their husbands, children and adults dress up as fairies, and Anne and Fenton have the freedom to elope successfully. Because of him the whole town gathers around Herne’s oak in Windsor forest. In the words of Jeanne Addison Roberts, “The forest, an assembly of trees, with their ambivalent connotations of both male and female, and their eerie approximation of the human form, is a suitable arena for the pursuit of the urgencies of the sexual drive. It serves equally well as the locale for defining sexual identities, for sorting out male and female characteristics in the selection of suitable mates, and for confronting the inevitable conflicts that arise between the young and the authority figures of family and society” (Shakespeare's English Comedy: The Merry Wives of Windsor in Context [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979], 121–2).

Falstaff may seem an odd and loveless bridge to a lover’s happy ending, but he brings more into Windsor than disorder and dry wit. Falstaff is the embodiment (and a very large body it is) of the hope and pleasure that make life worthwhile. It is hard to imagine anyone of Falstaff’s obvious intelligence and sophistication being deceived not once but three times. Harold Bloom, who can’t imagine it, calls the Falstaff of The Merry Wives of Windsor “a nameless imposter” (315). However, Falstaff is not taken in by the deceptions of the merry wives so much as he is lifted up by his own imaginations. He hopes and believes that some good, some great pleasure will come to him today, tomorrow, or the day after. He cannot be quenched by Thames water or beaten into pessimism by Ford’s cudgel. He will venture into the forest at night as readily as into a tavern by day if only because he has faith, Nature spirit that he is, in the spirit of life that guides and guards him. As Joseph Rosenblum puts it, “Falstaff devotes his whole life to play, the gratification of instincts, and the preservation of the self. His dalliance with the Mistresses Page and Ford may be a mockery of good burgher virtue, but he also pursues it with a good deal of pleasure, pleasure for its own sake. Everyone wins in the process. Anne is married to the man she loves, and the Pages, the Fords, and Sir John all have a thoroughly fine time in the romp” (A Reader’s Guide to Shakespeare [New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1998], 214).

In the end love triumphs. Fenton and Anne Page have found each other as true lovers. Fenton says, “I found thee of more value / Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags; / And ‘tis the very riches of thyself / That now I aim at” (3.4.16-19). Even Ford has come to see wives as something more than property to be owned and jealously guarded. He concludes, “In love the heavens themselves do guide the state. / Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate” (5.5.240-1). And at the last Fenton restores order as he has discovered love. He condemns the Pages for attempting to force their daughter into a loveless marriage and maintains that the very disorder and deception that has swirled around Falstaff has led to virtue. In his defense of his new wife (and himself) he says, “The offense is holy that she hath committed; / And this deceit loses the name of craft, / Of disobedience, or unduteous title” (5.5.233-5). Love has not only conquered all, it has also justified it, and though Jack Falstaff may never have been in love, he has certainly been love’s inadvertent servant.

The Merry Wives of Windsor: For Love or Money. By Ace G. Pilkington and Angel M. Pilkington; Insights, 2000

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Article from Utah Shakespeare Festival

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Dec 09 2012

Money in the Merchant of Venice

Filed under Second Paper

More than in any other Shakespearean play, affection and avarice are uneasy bedfellows in The Merchant of Venice (1600). When Solanio mimics Shylock’s anguished cries of “My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!” in Act 2, Scene 8, his lines suggest one of the principal motifs of this intriguing script: Money may placate the flesh, but only love can enrich and satisfy our souls. Part of a rich fabric of themes and images in the play, this central truth is immediately apparent in the preoccupation with finance displayed throughout the script.

In the opening scene, for example, Bassanio describes Portia as “a lady richly left, / And she is fair” (1.1.160–161). Wealth first, then beauty seems to be his principal motivation. Similarly, the Jewish moneylender Shylock admits in an aside in 1.3 that he hates Antonio because he is a Christian, but more so since “He lends out money gratis, and brings down / The rate of usance here with us in Venice” (35–36), an assertion suggesting that finance is stronger than both love and hate. Later in that same scene, Shylock distorts the Biblical story of Jacob and Laban (Genesis 27) to help justify the relatively new practice of charging interest on loans—a necessary evil for entrepreneurs like Antonio during this period of rapid mercantile expansion in Renaissance Italy. Although the roots of usury go back to the early Greeks, where money was described as “barren,” the ancient word for “interest” (tokos) meant “child,” which betrayed a deep ambivalence over the ethical and moral propriety of earning money without the slightest hint of physical labor. Nowhere is this paradox more clearly articulated than in the playwright’s own Timon of Athens (1606), where the title character’s naiveté about the compounding of interest drives him to financial ruin.

Although Antonio and Portia give lip service to the commonplace adage that money can’t buy happiness, both characters, like Bassanio, are obsessed with wealth. Antonio’s avaricious pursuit of foreign markets stretches his fleet of ships to the breaking point, while Portia, newly won in the casket stratagem, declares to Bassanio that she wishes to be:

"trebled twenty times myself,
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
More rich, that only to stand high in your account
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account (3.2.153–157).

Later, when she learns of Antonio’s peril at the hands of Shylock, Portia blithely tells her new husband to double payment of the bond, then double that sum again, then “treble that, / Before a friend of this description / Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault” (3.2.298–301). As interest compounds in the play, so too does love.

Unfortunately for the Christians, Shylock’s affection is not so easily bought as Bassanio’s. When offered twice the sum in court, the usurer claims that “If every ducat in six thousand ducats / Were in six parts, and every part a ducat, / I would not draw them; I would have my bond” (4.1.84–86).

As this cruel arithmetic implies, the dramatic arc of Shylock’s character has evolved greatly from the beginning of the play, where “monies” was his only “suit” (1.3.111). Devastated by his daughter’s elopement with a Christian and her theft of so much of his hard-earned wealth, Shylock begins to understand that human relationships are more precious and ephemeral than the pursuit of riches. When his friend Tubal tells him earlier that Jessica had traded his deceased wife’s ring for a monkey, Shylock replies in anguish that he “would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys” (3.1.96–97). In contrast, Bassanio and Gratiano cavalierly offer their wedding rings to the disguised Portia and Nerissa after Antonio’s acquittal. No amount of money can bring back Shylock’s wife and daughter, just as nothing but Antonio’s death can compensate for years of anti-Semitic scorn and ridicule. In his Old Testament world of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” Shylock reasons that only the death of a Christian can compensate for the loss of his Jewish child.

Shylock’s attempt to cut out Antonio’s heart nicely parallels Shakespeare’s own artistic effort to pluck hatred out of his Christian audience. Though cloaked in such admirable virtues as romantic love, devotion to close friends, and the attempt to move upward on the social and economic ladder, the Christians of Shakespeare’s play, like Antonio’s “goodly apple” (1.3.93), are rotten at the core. When Portia returns home after her victory in the trial scene and likens the conquest of Shylock to “a good deed” shining brightly “in a naughty world” (5.1.91), her words prefigure the abhorrent ethnic cleansing of later cultures and the religious myopia so prevalent in today’s society. The dearth of any normative role models in the play, save perhaps Portia’s deceased father, means that audiences will always have difficulty identifying with characters whose bigotry and xenophobia consistently betray their lack of moral integrity.

This Christian hypocrisy is only apparent, however, if we, as Portia’s suitors are invited to do, look beneath surface appearances to find a deeper reality in the world around us. Shakespeare’s play, like a dramatic “casket,” hides many truths within its glittering exterior of loving Christians triumphing over a greedy Jewish moneylender, one of which is that Shylock is the only person in the script who truly evolves from his obsession with wealth to a more profound understanding of the importance of humanity. Part of Shakespeare’s genius is that he ironically chooses his antagonist, the “evil” blocking character, as the sole exemplum of change within the play. Because all the other characters remain static in their pursuit of love and money, Shylock must be excised as an alien presence in their midst since he is a constant reminder of their avarice and cruelty towards those different from themselves. Like Roderigo Lopez, the Portuguese Jewish physician convicted of plotting to poison Queen Elizabeth just prior to the play’s initial performance at the Globe Theatre, Shylock is a scapegoat figure whose defeat at the end of the play signals a return to social homogeneity and wedded bliss, as opposed to the discord and conflict so apparent earlier in the script.

If any hope exists for the Christians in the play and in Shakespeare’s own society, it lies in the union of Jessica and Lorenzo, two characters from very different worlds who, like the dissimilar geographic locations of Venice and Belmont, must come together in concord for the play to end happily. As Lorenzo explains while tutoring his wife in the mysteries of Christian theology, God’s “harmony” exists within our perfect souls, but we cannot hear it while the “muddy vesture” of our bodies “Doth grossly close it in” (5.1.63–65).

A multitude of stars, like a wilderness of monkeys, look down upon us as audience members, each promising that God’s blessings will be conferred on those who strive for more perfect lives free of hatred, prejudice, and the lust for money. Only love, which sits at the center of the universe, will ennoble us all, Christians and Jews alike.

My Daughter, My Ducats: Love and Money in The Merchant of Venice. By Michael Flachmann; From Insights, 2006

 

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Article from Utah Shakespeare Festival (accessed Dec 9, 2012)

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Dec 09 2012

Money in The Comedy of Errors*

Filed under Second Paper

This theme is already well explained in my First Paper:

One interesting theme in The comedy of errors play is the constant thread that runs through it of concern about MONEY. The word money occurs 26 times in this play, more than any of Shakespeare’s other plays, though The Comedy of Errors is his shortest.

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The play opens with Aegeon being able to purchase his life only if he is able to raise a thousand marks; the ‘Dromios’ run here and there always delivering money to the wrong master; Angelo the goldsmith needs to be paid; Antipholus of Ephesus needs money to bail himself out of jail. And as is seen in the opening quotation, Antipholus of Syracuse’s priorities seem kind of bonkers: he’s just expressed that he’s concerned about sorcery that can maim the body and soul – but then runs off to safeguard his money. We also have an Aegeon depening on money for his life and Antipholus of Ephesus being taken as mad for missing his money.

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 Tis dinner-time,’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he;
‘Your meat doth burn,’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he:
‘Will you come home?’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he.
(Dromio, Act II.Scene i. Lines 335-337)
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However, in a larger sense, the concern about money trivializes things – the tension is lessened, as we know that the Antipholi twins have the money, it’s just not always at the right place at the right time.
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In The Comedy of Errors, Ephesus is a bustling city of merchants, and commerce is central to what goes on there – money underpins many of the actions, but it serves as more than a plot device. Usually, money is thought of as a liberating object, but in this play, money functions as an object and aim of bondage. By the end of the play, both Aegeon and his son, Antipholus, are jailed for the sake of money. Justice is less important than ransom, or at least that’s how it seems until the miracle of the separated twins comes out. The men win their liberation not by money, but through truth.
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Still, the play does tell us a lot by how money and justice are balanced in this world: the play’s resolution (where justice triumphs over money) comes in one final scene, whereas money has been the star of the show for the entire rest of the play. Money seems to symbolize something about the harsh reality of the world – that is, at the end of the day, “business is business”. It can break apart families (like Aegeon and Aemilia’s so long ago), turn friends against each other (like Angelo the goldsmith against Antipholus), and it can also mean the difference between life and death (like it does for Aegeon).

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Hence, the resolution at the end of the play (which transcends money by forgiving Aegeon’s ransom) is a paltry slip of a thing compared to that much longer lasting message, that whether we like it or not, it’s a material world, full of material people.

 

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Text: from my First Paper

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Dec 08 2012

Quotes on money

Filed under Second Paper

This part of my Second Paper is devoted to collect and comment some illustrating quotes about money found in the three comedies in comparison: The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of  Windsor.

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1) The Merry Wives of  Windsor:

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"Will they yet look after thee?
Wilt thou, after the expense of so much money,
Be now a gainer? Good body, I thank thee.
Let them say 'tis grossly [a pun on "fat"] done;
So it be fairly done, no matter." (145-49)"

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Act II, scene 2.

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In this scene from The Merry Wives of Windsor, the character of 'Pistol' begs a loan from Falstaff; after all, it is he who usually takes the risks in their petty crimes. Falstaff reminds the lesser partner that it is only through his — Falstaff's — greater influence and connections that Pistol avoids failure.

The multiple references to money give this scene its special edge. It opens with Falstaff haggling over money with someone he undoubtedly exploits with regularity. Virtually every character in the play has his part determined by his wealth (or lack of it). This is common enough in a farce of this kind, yet it reaches grotesque proportions in this scene. Ford (Brook) knows the great lure of hard cash to a nobleman fallen on hard times. Note the way he entices Falstaff:

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"There is money. Spend it, spend it;
Spend more; spend all I have. (240-41)"

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Act II, scene 2.

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Undoubtedly, Ford waves real coins in front of Falstaff at this moment. One can imagine the impecunious knight's pleasure in fingering the silver. The final joke here, though, is on Ford himself, whose obsession with "property," one imagines, extends to his wife. His jealousy has actually distorted his vision of things to the point where he will risk actually having his wife dishonor herself in order to prove his (unfounded) jealousy.

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2) The Comedy of errors: this play is rich in quotations about money. In fact, the word money appears more than 26 times in the text.

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"Tell me, and dally not, where is the money?"

The Comedy of errors, Act I Scene 2

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"I greatly fear my money is not safe.

The Comedy of errors, Act I Scene 2

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"And then receive my money for the chain."

The Comedy of errors, Act III Scene 2

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"Some tender money to me; some invite me;

Some other give me thanks for kindnesses;

Some offer me commodities to buy..."

The Comedy of errors, Act IV Scene 3

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Why, sir, I gave the money for the rope.

The Comedy of errors, Act IV Scene 4

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"Alas, I sent you money to redeem you."

The Comedy of errors, Act IV Scene 4

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"He is my prisoner; if I let him go,

The debt he owes will be required of me."

The Comedy of errors, Act VI Scene 4

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3) The Merchant of Venice:

"Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances;
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For suff'rance is the badge of all our tribe."

The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 7

Here Shylock responds to Bassiano's request for money, pointing out that he is not deaf to all of the criticism he has endured; rather, that he turns a blind eye to it. Shylock makes a good point in this conversation with Bassiano: despite their obvious hatred for him, they come to him for help in the form of money.

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"All that glisters is not gold,
Often have you heard that told;
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms infold."

The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 7

The Price of Morocco finds this note written on a scroll when he opens the golden chest. He mistakenly equates Portia with material value, and thus the chest serves as another example of Christian values that run deeper than surface appearance. Indeed, the quote suggests that the pursuit of "gold" often leads men to their tombs.

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"Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threaten'st than dost promise aught,
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I: joy be the consequence!"

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2

It is Bassiano that wins Portia's hand through his demonstration of Christian value and true worth. This is the end of a long quote, in which Bassiano meditates on truth and goodness versus the superficiality of surface appeareance. Thus, gold is simply "gaudy" and plain goodness is what will bring him joy.

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Quotes of The Merry wives of Windsor from Cliffsnotes (accessed Dec 8 2012)

Quotes of The Comedy of Errors from Royal Shakespeare Company (accessed Dec 8 2012)

Quotes of The Merchant of Venice from Enotes (accessed Dec 8 2012)

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Dec 08 2012

Introduction

Filed under Second Paper

My second paper is a Comparison of the element of money between Shakespeare's The Comedy of  Errors, The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a topic which is commonly important in most of Shakespearian plays, especially in The Comedy of Errors and The Merchant of Venice. The Merry Wives of Venice is an interesting counterpoint, although here money is also important.

The Merchant of Venice. Launcelot, Shylock, and Jessica. By H.Hoffmann.

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Michigan Library.

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Adriana came up to him and began to reproach him.

The Comedy of Errors. Adriana came up to him and began to reproach him.

Charles and Mary Lamb.  Tales from Shakespeare.  1878.

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Illustration for The Merry Wives of Windsor,

from The Illustrated Library Shakespeare,

published London 1890. Sir John Gilbert.

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Illustration of The Merchant of Venice from Enotes (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

Illustration of The Comedy of Errors from Bartleby.com (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

Illustration of The Merry Wives of Windsor from Bridgemanart (accessed Dec 8, 2012)

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Oct 15 2012

Weblography

Filed under First Paper

The Comedy of Errors: entire play (accessed Oct 2, 2012)

Shakespeare & Stuff” (accessed Oct 7, 2012)

- Image from “Shakespeare & Stuff” (accessed Oct 7, 2012)

Enotes (accessed Oct 7, 2012)

- Quote from Enotes (accessed Oct 7, 2012)

Internet Shakespeare Editions (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Elizabethan money (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Elizabethan cost of living (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Elizabethan incomes (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Image from Internet Shakespeare Editions (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Shakespeare’s income  (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

Mass Historia (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

- Image from Mass Historia (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

Youtube: The Merchant of Venice, Act I, scene i (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

Money in Shakespeare (accessed Oct 8, 2012)

Coins and Shakespeare (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

The Comedy of Errors: symbolism, imaginery, allegory (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

The Comedy of Errors - Money (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

Glover and Smith (image) (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

 New York School of laws (image) (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

Bible Gateway (Mark 10:25) (accessed Oct 14, 2012)

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Oct 14 2012

Conclusion

Filed under First Paper

After having explored the element of money through Shakespearean writing and, especially in The Comedy of errors, we can extrait some interesting conclusions.

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  • First of all, we have had the opportunity to focus our vision in an important topic which appears repeatedly in almost all the Shakespeare comedies, the money. This is relevant, since it is posible that a current reader could ignore or obviate this theme inside the ocean of Shakespeare writing, whose major richness is, maybe, the ability of expressing everything, of referring any topic (included those which in Elizabethan era could be considered as scandalous or those which were censured) without the necessity of being completely explicit or, on the other side, being completely explicit without being censored thanks to his dialectic maestry.

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  • Furthermore, we have realized the relevance the money and the economy had in Elizabethan times, especially for those who devoted their lives to art and theatre: they had to invest their money and to precisely distribute it if they wanted to survive in a world where art was still understood as an enternainment and its professionalization was beginning.

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  • In addition, we could observe the theme of money as a symbol in Shakespearean plays and especially in plays like The Comedy of Errors (or also The Merchant of Venise, for instance) where this element has a central role in the story. On the one hand, though the story we can see how money dominates the plot, the characters, the situations, and so on; the God "Money" controls the mind of the reader during all the play. However; finally, neither in The Comedy of Errors nor in The Merchant of Venise could this "God" succeed, because our playwright shakes the events, and the different situations of the characters become completely different just because "money" could never succeed at last. Then, this is the morality Shakespeare wants to transmit to the audience, following almost literally the famous sentence which speaks about the rich people in the Bible: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God". (Mark 10, 25).

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  • Finally, I would want to make a reflection about which was the actual objective of Shakespeare when highlightning the topic of money. After exploring Shakespeare style and writing, I feel that "final morality" that we have mentioned (which appears, invariably, in all his comedies), could be a prototype, a standard feature to conclude his plays and, at the same time, to avoid being censured. And, referring to money, we can observe how much incision makes Shakespeare though all the play in the power of money, the ability it possess to lose men's minds, to corrupt and to manipulate people and this critic to a society based on money doesn't dissolve just writing a "moral" happy ending.

 

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Bible Gateway(Mark 10:25)(accessed Oct 14, 2012)

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Oct 13 2012

Money in 'The comedy of errors'

Filed under First Paper

One interesting theme in The comedy of errors play is the constant thread that runs through it of concern about MONEY. The word money occurs 26 times in this play, more than any of Shakespeare’s other plays, though The Comedy of Errors is his shortest.

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The play opens with Aegeon being able to purchase his life only if he is able to raise a thousand marks; the 'Dromios' run here and there always delivering money to the wrong master; Angelo the goldsmith needs to be paid; Antipholus of Ephesus needs money to bail himself out of jail. And as is seen in the opening quotation, Antipholus of Syracuse's priorities seem kind of bonkers: he's just expressed that he's concerned about sorcery that can maim the body and soul - but then runs off to safeguard his money. We also have an Aegeon depening on money for his life and Antipholus of Ephesus being taken as mad for missing his money.

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 Tis dinner-time,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he;
'Your meat doth burn,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he:
'Will you come home?' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he.
(Dromio, Act II.Scene i. Lines 335-337)
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However, in a larger sense, the concern about money trivializes things - the tension is lessened, as we know that the Antipholi twins have the money, it's just not always at the right place at the right time.
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In The Comedy of Errors, Ephesus is a bustling city of merchants, and commerce is central to what goes on there – money underpins many of the actions, but it serves as more than a plot device. Usually, money is thought of as a liberating object, but in this play, money functions as an object and aim of bondage. By the end of the play, both Aegeon and his son, Antipholus, are jailed for the sake of money. Justice is less important than ransom, or at least that’s how it seems until the miracle of the separated twins comes out. The men win their liberation not by money, but through truth.
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Still, the play does tell us a lot by how money and justice are balanced in this world: the play’s resolution (where justice triumphs over money) comes in one final scene, whereas money has been the star of the show for the entire rest of the play. Money seems to symbolize something about the harsh reality of the world – that is, at the end of the day, "business is business". It can break apart families (like Aegeon and Aemilia’s so long ago), turn friends against each other (like Angelo the goldsmith against Antipholus), and it can also mean the difference between life and death (like it does for Aegeon).

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Hence, the resolution at the end of the play (which transcends money by forgiving Aegeon’s ransom) is a paltry slip of a thing compared to that much longer lasting message, that whether we like it or not, it’s a material world, full of material people.

 

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WEBLOGRAPHY:

Coins and Shakespeare (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

The Comedy of Errors: symbolism, imaginery, allegory (accessed Oct 13, 2012)

The Comedy of Errors: entire play (accessed Oct 2, 2012)

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