Shylock's shy conscience
consciousness and conversion in the Merchant of venice
Tiffany Hoffman considers the complex moral phenomenon of Christian shyness which she applies to an examination of Antonio's and Shylock's unstable positions. Antonio's Christian shyness and associated melancholy participate in a dynamic interaction in which characters overcome the disempowering effects of shyness in a struggle that Hoffman identifies as emotional wrestling. In the courtroom scene, Antonio's disempowered shy conscience temporarily yields to Shylock's superior position, which appears to be determined, at least in part, by his humoral constitution. In the end, however, Shylock is overcome by his own heightened sense of shy self-reflection, as he surrenders to the disgrace engendered by the judgment of others, and his controversial declaration of contentment arises out of the resulting shame and its manipulation by Portia and Antonio.
Hoffman, T. (2016)., Shylock's shy conscience: consciousness and conversion in the Merchant of venice, in P. Budra & C. Werier (eds.), Shakespeare and consciousness, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 249-266.
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