The Jew as Stranger

Leslie Fiedler, “The Jew as Stranger,” in The Stranger in Shakespeare, 85136


If Shakespeare’s first historical tetralogy had ended with Joan’s condemnation, to turn from it to The Merchant of Venice would seem a transition in tone, perhaps, but not in theme. Its last words, however, are not a father’s curse but Suffolk’s prediction that “Margaret shall now be Queen, and rule the King; / But I will rule both her, the King, and realm.” Although he comes quite soon to grief, before the next three plays are done, the case of maidens with whom the chronicle began has been replaced by wives and widows and, especially, mothers. The Merchant, on the other hand, remains throughout a motherless play, in which not being, but getting, married is the theme.

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