Notes from Limmud 2012
The Jew in Shakespeare
Dr Hilton Immerman
[Standard disclaimer: All views not in square brackets are those of the speaker, not myself. Accuracy of transcription is not guaranteed.]
The Jew features prominently in English literature from Chaucer up to the present day.Harold Rosenberg:
The Jew in literature is generally presented as a thorough-going materialist; a physical coward; an opportunist in money matters; a wizard in peddling his pharmaceutica; strange in his religious observances insofar as he still paid attention to them; clannish in his loyalties; secretive in his living habits; servile in his relations with Christians, whom he abominated; he had an outlanding nose, an unpleasant odour and frequently a speech impediment.Sol Liptzin:
In contrast to this villainous Jew, there was always his beautiful daughter, most attractive to Gentiles and wooed by them. Sometimes she was won by them and abandoned her faith for that of her successful suitor.
This is not entirely true, as shown by [Abigail in] The Jew of Malta, and Jessica to a degree in The Merchant of Venice: besides eloping with a Christian suitor, she steals from her father. The best example is Rebecca in Ivanhoe. [Hah, I got surprised by what happened at the end of Ivanhoe by not listening closely enough to the quotation above.]
Being an outsider gives you an opportunity to look in on the majority society and comment on it; and Shakespeare does that (as do others, for example Leopold Bloom in Ulysses).
There are seldom any Jewish mothers presented, and the malevolent fathers are almost always deprived of their offspring.
It's important to remember that there were no (overt) Jews in England at the time Chaucer, Marlowe and Shakespeare were writing. Hence they only had the myth to go on.
Prior to the Elizabethan period, the Jew was always portrayed in mediaeval morality plays wearing a red wig (because Judas had reportedly red hair) and with an artificial nose.
The Canterbury Tales
In the Canterbury Tales, there are three decent credible characters of the twenty-nine characters. If one of those three had told the tale of the blood libel, it would have [lacuna]. But it's actually told by the Prioress, a woman of distorted values, indulging her pet dogs against the Church's values, whilst human beings starved. The plot is [mostly excerpted from Wikipedia, as the speaker spoke too fast for me to take it down:] A young Christian boy has to travel through a Jewish ghetto on a daily basis. He teaches himself the first verse of the popular Medieval hymn 'Alma Redemptoris Mater' ("Nurturing Mother of the Redeemer"); though he does not understand the words, an older classmate tells him it is about Mary. He begins to sing it every day as he walks to school through the Jews' street. The Jews resent this, and murder him, draining his blood, throwing the body in a ditch. His mother searches for him and eventually finds his body, which begins miraculously to sing the 'Alma Redemptoris'. The Christians call in the provost of the city, who has the Jews drawn by wild horses and then hanged. The boy continues to sing throughout his Requiem Mass until the holy abbot of the community asks him why he is able to sing. He replies that although his throat is cut, he has had a vision in which Mary laid a grain on his tongue and he will keep singing until it is removed. The abbot removes the grain and he dies.
Can we say that Chaucer was himself antisemitic? Not necessarily. If anything, Chaucer might be depicting the myth to satirise it because it is being told by somone with very little credibility.
The Jew of Malta and The Merchant of Venice
Moving on in time, The Jew of Malta is very antisemitic. Barrabas is guilty of poisoning nuns in a convent; he poisons wells and plots against Christians, etc. Marlowe knew that people didn't know Jews, and were fearful of the myth of them.
Shakespeare of course was in competition with Marlowe; he emulated him but beat him hands down.
The protagonist in both is a swarthy gesticulating Jew to whom the acucmulation of money is the most important [thing in his life]. Both plot against Christians and fail, and both have beautiful daughters.
Shakespeare's play was written when he was thirty-one. It's classified as a comedy, but has some ingredients of a tragedy; it's often called a problem play. Shylock only appears in five of the ?twenty-one scenes, but dominates the play. The central theme is money, and the climax is an attempted murder.
The Merchant of Venice plot summary
Antonio, a melancholy gay man, is attracted to his young friend Bassanio. Bassanio needs to borrow money to impress and win over the Lady of Belmont (Portia).
Antonio is the arch-antisemite. He spits on Shylock's beard, but goes to ask money of him anyway, and establishes a bond which will be repaid, if he cannot pay, with a pound of flash. Antonio agrees because he expects his ships will return long before the due date.
Shylock's beautiful daughter Jessica elopes with her Christian lover, Lorenzo, stealing his money and her late mother's jewels. This is what breaks Shylock:
The villainy you teach me
I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the
Bassanio wins Portia's love. (She's also racist; she spurns the prince of Morocco.)
Shakespeare here is showing Venetian and by implication English society as being decadent and corrupt.
Antonio's ships do not return on time, and Shylock demands his pound of flesh. There's a court case. Shylock is offered 3 × 3000 ducats and refuses. Shylock is about to plunge his knife into Antonio, when Portia points out that if he sheds blood, that's not part of the pound of flesh.
Portia, in disguise, pleads for his mercy, to no avail, and then confronts him with the law: If an alien seeks the life of a citizen, half his goods go to the state, and the other half to the intended victim. Antonio asks that the fine be paid to the state and he administer the balance—which on Shylock's death will go to Lorenzo.
Finally, because this is what happens in Shakespearean comedies, three couples—Nerissa and Gratiano, Bassanio and Portia, and Lorenzo and Jessica—marry and live happily ever after.
[In the Limmud session, this talk was punctuated with excerpts of a filmic version; I'm afraid you'll have to put up with script excerpts instead.]
ANTONIO: Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
SHYLOCK. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances;
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For suff'rance is the badge of all our tribe;
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help;
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
'Shylock, we would have moneys.' You say so—
You that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold; moneys is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say
'Hath a dog money? Is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?' Or
Shall I bend low and, in a bondman's key,
With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness,
'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last,
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?
ANTONIO: I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends— for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?—
But lend it rather to thine enemy,
Who if he break thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty.
SHYLOCK. Why, look you, how you storm!
I would be friends with you, and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with,
Supply your present wants, and take no doit
Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me.
This is kind I offer.
BASSANIO. This were kindness.
SHYLOCK. This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond, and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
ANTONIO: Content, in faith; I'll seal to such a bond,
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO. You shall not seal to such a bond for me;
I'll rather dwell in my necessity.
ANTONIO: Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it;
Within these two months— that's a month before
This bond expires— I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHYLOCK. O father Abram, what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this:
If he should break his day, what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man's flesh taken from a man
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship;
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
ANTONIO: Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
Shakespeare has gone far further than anyone before him; he's presented a three-dimensional character. However, the damage this play has done to Jews over the centuries has been enormous. Indeed, from 1933 to 1939 all English authors were banned in Germany except Shakespeare; there were fifty state-sponsored productions of the play, with all the more sympathetic speeches removed.
It's notable that this play was produced at the trial of the Crypto-Jew Lopez, who ended up being put on trial for sedition against Queen Elizabeth, and ended up being hanged, drawn and quartered.
The next scene takes place in a brothel, illustrating the decadence of the society.
SOLANIO. Now, what news on the Rialto?
SALERIO. Why, yet it lives there uncheck'd that Antonio hath a ship
of rich lading wreck'd on the narrow seas; the Goodwins I think
they call the place, a very dangerous flat and fatal, where the
carcases of many a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my
gossip Report be an honest woman of her word.
SOLANIO. I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever knapp'd
ginger or made her neighbours believe she wept for the death of a
third husband. But it is true, without any slips of prolixity or
crossing the plain highway of talk, that the good Antonio, the
honest Antonio—O that I had a title good enough to keep his name
SALERIO. Come, the full stop.
SOLANIO. Ha! What sayest thou? Why, the end is, he hath lost a
SALERIO. I would it might prove the end of his losses.
SOLANIO. Let me say amen betimes, lest the devil cross my prayer,
for here he comes in the likeness of a Jew.
How now, Shylock? What news among the merchants?
SHYLOCK. You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my
SALERIO. That's certain; I, for my part, knew the tailor that made
the wings she flew withal.
SOLANIO. And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was flidge;
and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the dam.
SHYLOCK. She is damn'd for it.
SALERIO. That's certain, if the devil may be her judge.
SHYLOCK. My own flesh and blood to rebel!
SOLANIO. Out upon it, old carrion! Rebels it at these years?
SHYLOCK. I say my daughter is my flesh and my blood.
SALERIO. There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than
between jet and ivory; more between your bloods than there is
between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether
Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?
SHYLOCK. There I have another bad match: a bankrupt, a prodigal,
who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar, that was
us'd to come so smug upon the mart. Let him look to his bond. He
was wont to call me usurer; let him look to his bond. He was wont
to lend money for a Christian courtesy; let him look to his bond.
SALERIO. Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his
flesh. What's that good for?
SHYLOCK. To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will
feed my revenge. He hath disgrac'd me and hind'red me half a
million; laugh'd at my losses, mock'd at my gains, scorned my
nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies. And what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?
Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections,
passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed
and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If
you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we
not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you
in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance
be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me
I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the
Enter a MAN from ANTONIO
MAN. Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house, and desires to speak with you both.
There are two views of this play.
The first maintains that The Merchant of Venice endorses anti-Jewish sentiment and, by extension, that Shakespeare is an antisemite/Judaeophobe because his work reflects the anti-Jewish sentiment that was part of Elizabethan culture.
On Elizabethan stage, Shylock was portrayed as a comic, stereotypical figure. Antonio appears as a charitable Christian who lends money freely, in contrast to the miserly and extortionist Shylock, who preys upon the hardship of others in order to increase his own wealth.
The Jew is demonised:
- Shylock is reduced to something other than human. In many cases, even the simple title "Jew" is stripped away, and Shylock is no longer a man, but an animal: a wolf, a dog, a cur. When Shylock is not an animal or man, he becomes "a stony adversary, inhuman wretch" (IV,i,4–5).
- Shylock is equated with the Devil.
- The Jew is vengeful and murderous. The play suggests that Shylock is bent on murder from the outset of his bond with Antonio.
The second perspective argues that Shakespeare is a humanist because The Merchant of Venice subverts Judaeophobia and antisemitism. In his play, he exposes the racism and prejudice that was part of Elizabethan and Venetian culture.
Shylock's rival, Antonio, is presented as antisemitic and the instigator of the conflict. Shylock notes these aspects of the enmity of Antonio for him:
He hates our sacred nation; and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. (I, iii, 48-51)
Shylock is portrayed as a human being: see the speech "He hath disgrac'd me" (last paragraph of the long quotation above).
In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock tends to be a villain because of the not unreasonable hatred he bears towards the antisemite, Antonio. In contrast, Barabas in The Jew of Malta is a villain for his own aggrandisement and pleasure.
It must have shocked an Elizabethan audience to hear from a Jew such a rebuttal of Christian [lacuna]
...not just the Christians on stage but those looking on from the pit as well: This is the kind of racism and bigotry that you are guilty of as well.
Portia makes unpleasant remarks about the French, the Neapolitans, the Scots, the [etc], the Moroccans.
In the context of other works
In the context of other works, consider Fagin. He is an absolutely grotesque character with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever.
Advocacy sometimes works: Dickens bought a house from a Jewish woman, Eliza Davis. She objected strongly to his portrayal of [Fagin]; Dickens replied [not transcribed here, <googles>:]
I must take leave to say that if there be any general feeling on the part of the intelligent Jewish people, that I have done them what you describe as “a great wrong”, they are a far less sensible, a far less just, and a far less good tempered people than I have always supposed them to be. Fagin in Oliver Twist is a Jew, because it unfortunately was true of the time to which that story refers, that that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew. But surely no sensible man or woman of your persuasion can fail to observe—firstly, that all the rest of the wicked dramatis personae are Christians; and secondly, that he is called “ The Jew”, not because of his religion, but because of his race. If I were to write a lie, I should do a very indecent and unjustifiable thing but I make mention of Fagin as the Jew, because he is one of the Jewish people, and because it conveys that kind of idea of him, which I should give my readers of a Chinaman by calling him a Chinese.
The enclosed is quite a nominal subscription towards the good object in which you are interested, but I hope it may serve to shew you that I have no feeling towards the Jewish people but a friendly one. I always speak well of them, whether in public, or in private, and bear my testimony (as I ought to do) to their perfect good faith in such transactions as I ever had with them. And in my “Child’s History of England” I have lost no opportunity of setting forth their cruel persecution in old times.
Most of the Jews [lacuna; <raids the Web>. This page says: "When the book was reprinted in 1867, Dickens began making changes in the text. Dickens cut approximately 180 references to “Fagin the Jew” (changing them to just “Fagin” or “he” or “him”). And in his next big book, Our Mutual Friend (written in 1864–5) Dickens wrote a nice Jew, Mr. Riah. Riah manages a money-lending establishment but is not a usurer or anything yucky like that, and as a character he is so saintly and marvelous that critics point out he’s as flat as a matzah. (I paraphrase.)" [<resumes talk transcript>] and the Christians are presented in a much less favourable light.
TS Eliot was a vehement antisemite. In "Gerontion", he writes:
My house is a decayed house,
And the Jew squats on the windowsill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
In another work, he blames the Jews for the decline of European society:
The rats are underneath the piles,
Th eJew is underneath the lot.
In "A Cooking Egg", he writes:
The red-eyed scavengers are creeping
Rom Kentish Town and Golders Green
Back to The Merchant of VeniceHarold Fisch:
Shakespeare penetrates to the Christian hatred of the Jew as the source of Shylock's plot aginst Antonio: he shows him for a moment seriously trying to win Antonio's love and respect, but being spurned. The crisis comes when he is bereaved of his daughter through the treachery of one of Antonio's Christian friends. The movement mounting up to the trial scene at the climax of the play proceeds as a sort of relentless closing in upon Shylock, who reacts like a hunted animal with the hunters closing in upon it, or a bear being baited to the point of fury.
In the court scene, with Portia disguised, in drag, as a lawyer:
PORTIA. Shylock, there's thrice thy money off'red thee.
SHYLOCK. An oath, an oath! I have an oath in heaven.
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.
PORTIA. Why, this bond is forfeit;
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant's heart. Be merciful.
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
SHYLOCK. When it is paid according to the tenour.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law; your exposition
Hath been most sound; I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment. By my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me. I stay here on my bond.
ANTONIO. Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.
PORTIA. Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
SHYLOCK. O noble judge! O excellent young man!
PORTIA. For the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHYLOCK. 'Tis very true. O wise and upright judge,
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
PORTIA. Therefore, lay bare your bosom.
SHYLOCK. Ay, his breast—
So says the bond; doth it not, noble judge?
'Nearest his heart,' those are the very words.
PORTIA. It is so. Are there balance here to weigh
SHYLOCK. I have them ready.
PORTIA. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHYLOCK. Is it so nominated in the bond?
PORTIA. It is not so express'd, but what of that?
'Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHYLOCK. I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond.
PORTIA. You, merchant, have you anything to say?
ANTONIO. But little: I am arm'd and well prepar'd.
Give me your hand, Bassanio; fare you well.
Grieve not that I am fall'n to this for you,
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom. It is still her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which ling'ring penance
Of such misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honourable wife;
Tell her the process of Antonio's end;
Say how I lov'd you; speak me fair in death;
And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent but you that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt;
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I'll pay it instantly with all my heart.
BASSANIO. Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem'd above thy life;
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you.
PORTIA. Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
GRATIANO. I have a wife who I protest I love;
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.
NERISSA. 'Tis well you offer it behind her back;
The wish would make else an unquiet house.
SHYLOCK. [Aside] These be the Christian husbands! I have a daughter—
Would any of the stock of Barrabas
Had been her husband, rather than a Christian!—
We trifle time; I pray thee pursue sentence.
PORTIA. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine.
The court awards it and the law doth give it.
SHYLOCK. Most rightful judge!
PORTIA. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it and the court awards it.
SHYLOCK. Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare.
PORTIA. Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood:
The words expressly are 'a pound of flesh.'
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
GRATIANO. O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!
SHYLOCK. Is that the law?
PORTIA. Thyself shalt see the act;
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur'd
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desir'st.
GRATIANO. O learned judge! Mark, Jew. A learned judge!
SHYLOCK. I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice,
And let the Christian go.
BASSANIO. Here is the money.
The Jew shall have all justice. Soft! No haste.
He shall have nothing but the penalty.
GRATIANO. O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!
PORTIA. Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
But just a pound of flesh; if thou tak'st more
Or less than a just pound—be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple; nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair—
Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.
GRATIANO. A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!
Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.
PORTIA. Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.
SHYLOCK. Give me my principal, and let me go.
BASSANIO. I have it ready for thee; here it is.
PORTIA. He hath refus'd it in the open court;
He shall have merely justice, and his bond.
GRATIANO. A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel!
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
SHYLOCK. Shall I not have barely my principal?
PORTIA. Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
SHYLOCK. Why, then the devil give him good of it!
I'll stay no longer question.
PORTIA. Tarry, Jew.
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be proved against an alien
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
And the offender's life lies in the mercy
Of the Duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st;
For it appears by manifest proceeding
That indirectly, and directly too,
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd
The danger formerly by me rehears'd.
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.
GRATIANO. Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself;
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord;
Therefore thou must be hang'd at the state's charge.
DUKE OF VENICE. That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.
PORTIA. Ay, for the state; not for Antonio.
SHYLOCK. Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that.
You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.
PORTIA. What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
GRATIANO. A halter gratis; nothing else, for God's sake!
ANTONIO. So please my lord the Duke and all the court
To quit the fine for one half of his goods;
I am content, so he will let me have
The other half in use, to render it
Upon his death unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter—
Two things provided more; that, for this favour,
He presently become a Christian;
The other, that he do record a gift,
Here in the court, of all he dies possess'd
Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.
DUKE OF VENICE. He shall do this, or else I do recant
The pardon that I late pronounced here.
PORTIA. Art thou contented, Jew? What dost thou say?
SHYLOCK. I am content.
PORTIA. Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
The [common] idea [is] that Christianity is all about mercy and Judaism is about judgement, but Portia shows no mercy.
John Dover Wilson argues that there are two Shylocks: Shylock in some sections is presented as a comic character, [in others as] a devil in the likeness of an old Jew, a crafty bloodthirsty villain, crying out for revenge upon a decent Christian gentleman.
But in Shylock is also a great tragic figure, representative of the suffering Hebrew race throughout history and expressing the indignation and aspirations of oppressed peoples and races throughout the world.
Shakespeare intended both Shylocks.
[Now you know all about it, I'll point out that Shakespeare's Globe in putting on The Merchant of Venice this summer. Can I interest anyone in seeing it with me as a groundling? (I'm not really interested in paying a minimum of three and a half times the price for an inferior experience seated.)]