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(p.106) Chapter Ten Conversion
Shylock Is Shakespeare
Kenneth Gross
University of Chicago Press

Defeated by Portia's law tricks and subject to the judgment of the Venetian court, Shylock is told that he must on pain of death become a Christian. This chapter argues the demand for conversion has in it the inventiveness of a cynical malice. It is the last twist of the knife in the staged humiliation of this Jew, one that tries to outmatch the Jew's humiliation of the merchant. By just so obviously not having any inward force, the idea of conversion reminds us of the more intractable spaces of mind and imagination the play has opened up in Shylock, even as it seems like an attempt to shut them down, or simply make them irrelevant.

Keywords:   Shylock, conversion, Christianity, Jews

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