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Shylock as the Abject

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2018, 50(), pp.483-507
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2018.50..483
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : February 10, 2018
  • Accepted : March 1, 2018
  • Published : March 30, 2018

Lee,Mi-Sun 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Shylock in Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice has been considered as either a devilish villain, or as a victim who was persecuted unfairly by the Christian society in Venice. By focusing on the matter of the Other, which has been summarily overlooked in literary texts and the literary criticism, it is noted that the New Historical and Cultural criticism interpreted Shylock as the racial, religious, and economic Other in the Venetian society which at the time was dominated by Christian ideals. The purpose of this paper is to show how Shylock becomes an abjected Other, that is, the abject, based on Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection. According to Kristeva, an abjection is the process of expulsion of otherness from society, through which the subject or the nation tries to set up clear boundaries and establish a stable identity. Shylock is marginalized and abjected by the borders drawn by the Venetian Christian society, which in a strong sense tries to protect its identity and homogeneity by rejecting and excluding any unclean or improper otherness. The borders include the two visible borders like the Ghetto and the red hats worn by the Jews, and one invisible border in the religious and economic fields. By asking for one pound of Antonio’s flesh when he can’t pay back 3,000 ducats owed, Shylock tries to cross the border between Christians and Jews. Portia frustrates Shylock's desire to violate the border by presenting a different interpretation of the expression, ‘one pound of flesh,’ from Shylock’s interpretation. And in doing so she expels him back to his original position of abject.

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