"This may appear unmanly Tenderness". Homosocial bonds and (un)ruly women in George Granville's The Jew of Venice (1701)

Zdrojový dokument: Theatralia. 2021, roč. 24, č. 1, s. 61-77
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
Type: Článek
In 1701 George Granville produced an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which he renamed The Jew of Venice. In the preface, Granville declared he was operating in the wake of the "great men" who, before him, fitted Shakespeare's works for the Restoration stage and indeed the simplification of his plot and excision of a few characters seem to follow this lead. Although one may expect the new play to revolve mainly around Shylock, the Jew becomes little more than a (doubtfully) comic appendix, while Bassanio's role and his relationship with Antonio, now characterised by overt loving feelings, receive Granville's closest attention. This, however, seems to go against the play's Prologue in which Dryden's ghost laments the endorsement of open homosexuality on the contemporary stage, apparently cleansing both Granville's and Shakespeare's plays from this 'accusation'. Unexpectedly enough, though, the Jew of Venice is remarkably rich in allusions to the two friends' (homosexual) bonding which eventually leads to the exclusion of women and the silencing of their 'unruliness'. This raises a few questions: was Granville exploring the topic of male-male ties by camouflaging the operation under a misleading title? How does this operation fit into a dawning new mode of Shakespearian adaptations? And how did The Jew of Venice respond to contemporary social and cultural trends, also with regard to women's social role and position?
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