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idea, the same view of life, except that it is here more clearly developed, and more fully worked out. As, in the first case, Sly, in spite of his imaginary splendour, always remains the tinker, falling asleep over the more refined enjoyments that are prepared for him, and makes no further use of his dignity as lord, than to get drunk, so in the principal play, Katharina, the haughty shrew who despises the natural vocation of woman, has stepped out of the sphere which nature had assigned to her, and hence, in her obstinacy, arrogance and love of dominion, commits acts of foolishness that are excusable only in a spoilt child. As, in the first case, the tinker's state of lordship terminates in the nothingness of a mere joke, and he, in the end, becomes what he really is, even though against his own will, so we find that the Shrew can, as little, maintain her assumed high position as uncontrolled mistress of the household ; she, in the end, is cured by a device on the part of her husband, who, by displaying a much greater amount of the same perversity, holds up

before her a reflex of her own distorted image ; thus put to shame, she returns to her own proper sphere. The folly and perversity-the whole weight of which falls back upon her-naturally neutralise each other: the assumed perversity of Katharina's husband becomes the means of curing the actual disease of her mind. The play, at the same time, is based upon profound psychological observations: it is the trial of the homeopathic treatment in the domain of ethics, which, when properly carried out, is generally successful.

The subordinate parts of the play-the intrigues of Bianca's suitors against one another, the love affairs of Gremio, of Hortensio and the widow, of Lucentio and Bianca-are, as already remarked, but very loosely interwoven with the main action, and thus stand opposed to it in the form of a second, independent half. This is a defect which Shakspeare could, indeed, not very well have avoided unless he meant entirely to change the old play. And yet upon a closer examination there are nevertheless indications which point to the fundamental motive of the whole, and thus connect the subordinate portions with the principal part. A character like Katharina can be accounted for only by her having received an entirely wrong education, and a false mode of treatment; the father of such a daughter must have wholly misunderstood his position as a father, and, in place of ruling his house with paternal strictness and manly authority, must have abandoned himself to effeminacy and weakness. And this is precisely what good old Baptista appears to have done, for although he makes no secret of his daughter's faults he does not even attempt to correct them. Vincentio also, to judge from the little we see of the development of his character, must have suffered from a similar weakness, otherwise Lucentio, his light-headed son, would not have so entirely forgotten all filial duty and respect towards him as to venture to pass off a ridiculous pedant as his own father, merely to promote his own interests; and Vincentio himself would not have permitted his son to be accompanied by servants equally inconsiderate of their position as servants.

. Gremio, the old suitor, is very rightly outwitted and made laughing-stock for forgetting his years and becoming the rival of a spirited youth for the love of a pretty girl. Lastly, Lucentio and Hortensio lose their wager against Petruchio, and are deservedly put to shame for perpetually playing the part of devoted and obsequious lovers, and thus losing sight of the seriousness of their position as men, and their dignity as husbands, accordingly, for having likewise placed themselves in a false and unbecoming position. Petruchio seems to be the only rational character in the whole piece; but the perversity of the others obliges him also to play the fool and to make himself ridiculous, although, finally, the laughing is completely on his side. All the other personages, except Petruchio and Katharina, are sketched with but a few touches, lightly and superficially; this is a defect that must ever remain a defect, even though the plan of the piece scarcely permitted of a more detailed and deeper delineation of character, and although the few touches are correct and to the point, and made by a skilful hand. There is but one trait in Katharina's character that might seem to be wrongly drawn, namely, that the self-willed, violent, refractory girl should 80

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quickly and readily consent to marry Petruchio, and that she obeys him almost without resistance, with, indeed, a nay on her lips, but a yea in her heart. However, upon a closer examination we shall again have to admit this to be a proof of the poet's thorough knowledge of human nature. It would unquestionably have been an easy matter to have given more obvious motives for Katharina's consent, but the best motive here was the very surprise, the irresistible impression made upon her by an energetic and thoroughly manly spirit. In Petruchio she probably, for the first time in her life, met with a man worthy the name of a man; hitherto she had been surrounded only by women in male attire. A genuine man she could not but esteem, nay even love, and accordingly obey. This, in fact, is the result of woman's nature in general, and the psychological result of the pride and unusual energy of her character. Petruchio and Katharina, therefore, are excellently suited to one another, and as the closing scene intimates, their marriage will prove a happy one. And herein again we find an indication of the fundamental idea of the whole : that only that which is natural, and in accordance with the nature of mankind and things, is enduring, and a guarantee of happiness and contentment.

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CHAPTER VI.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. • The Merchant of Venice' is one of the most popular creations of the great poet, and unites within itself all the charms of Shakspeare's poetry. In the first place let us consider the characterisation. Apart from the numerous other characters, which are as true to life as they are clearly and consistently developed, and which balance and set off one another in organic contrasts :—the noble, high-minded but passive and melancholy Antonio, who is little suited to bear the burden of an active, energetic life, and is so well described in the words “a princely merchant';-his gay and sincere friend Bassanio, who is certainly somewhat frivolous, but amiable and intelligent, a true Italian gentiluomo in the best sense of the word ;-his comrades Lorenzo and Gratiano ;-further, Portia, who is no less amiable than she is intellectual, and her graceful maid Nerissa ;-also Jessica, that child of nature, who loses herself in the enthusiasm of her Eastern passion of love -apart from all these firmly and accurately delineated characters, down to the silly Launcelot Gobbo and his childish old father, we have in Shylock, the Jew, a true masterpiece of characterisation.

Shylock is, in the first place, a very successful represen tation of the Jewish national character in general, not of that venerable, grand, even though one-sided spirit which animated the people in the days of Moses, David and the l'rophets, but of that low, undignified, degenerate way of thinking into which the fallen people had sunk during the time of their dispersion over the face of the earth—those centuries of long persecution and sore oppression. Their grand endurance and steadfastness, their strict adherence to religion, custom and law, had during those times changed

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into obstinacy and self-will; their shrewd intellect into finesse and a talent for speculative combinations; their enthusiasm for prophecy into superstition ; their love of inheritance—which was in so far praiseworthy as it was united with a religious devotion to the land which God had given them, for which they themselves had fought hard, and maintained with trouble and anxiety-had gradually turned into covetousness, into mean, revolting avarice; their feeling of superiority over all other nations—from whom they were distinguished by a purer religious faith—had degenerated into bitter hatred and contempt, and heartless cruelty towards their persecutors. Nothing had escaped the universal degradation except that unconquerable perseverance, that dry mummy-like tenacity of the Jewish nature. Thus Shylock may be said to be the pitiful, decayed ruin of a grand past, the glimmering spark of a vanished splendour, which, although it can no longer give warmth and life, can nevertheless burn and destroy; we can as little deny him our sympathy, as we can repress our disgust at his sentiments and mode of action. And yet Shylock is not a mere Jew in the general sense ; in him the Jewish national character appears, at the same time, to be represented in an entirely individual form, in full personal vividness and definiteness. Hatred and revenge, in him, are directed more especially against Christian merchants, who lend money without interest and security so as to help unfortunate debtors and to exercise charity and generosity ; Shylock thinks himself thereby more oppressed than by the dog-like manner in which they treat him. For this reason the princely merchant Antonio is a very thorn in his sight. His hatred of him even surpasses his avarice, and he plays the part of a high-minded and generous character merely to work a dastardly trick upon him. He contrives with juristio shrewdness and legal knowledge to give this trick the semblance of lawfulness, and in the same way as he holds strictly to the Jewish law, he insists stubbornly upon the letter of the foreign law. Common-sense and shrewdness, in him, clothe themselves in the garb of that peculiarly subtle humour and cutting sarcasm of wit, which he has so freely at his command. Lastly, his love for his

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