Dario Calimani

The Discord of Harmony. Music and Deceit in ‘The Merchant of Venice’

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Keywords: The Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare and Music; Music of the Spheres; Shylock and anti-Semitism.

“The Merchant of Veniceµ has been charged with anti-Semitism by several notable critics – Harold Bloom, among others. In the opinion of most of them, one proof of its anti-Semitism is to be found in the play’s supposed happy ending and the final harmony pervading Belmont’s romantic scene. This essay revisits the theory of The Merchant’s anti-Semitism by showing the disharmonious, discordant quality of the musical discourse in the play, as demonstrated by its ironical, ambiguous traits. The alien’s expulsion from the stage is no solution to the play’s disturbed harmony, and the image of an appeased society on which the curtain finally drops is in fact the epiphany of illusion.

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