THREE QUESTIONS FOR –

Regarding the Merchant of Venice

1 How can we deal with the ambivalent character of Shylock nowadays, whose actions and arguments employ the anti-Semitic stereotype of the „Jewish interest-yielding capitalist“?

2 Shakespeare has classified his play as “comedy”: How does humor agree with social exclusion of minorities?

3 Would it still be possible today to create a piece such as The Merchant of Venice”?


– Feridun Zaimoglu (author):


1 In Shakespeare's tales no one goes Scot-free. The king is overthrown, the fantast lapses into lunacy, the sensitive girl hurls herself into the floods. Why should Shylock be excluded? He is a Shakespearean character: he is alienated from life. What goes around comes around, hence, he collapses just like the regent, the beggar, the martial king. I discourage from any form of indoctrination. Subscribers aren't dim-witted: Therefore, the character of Shylock shouldn't be “dealt with”, but rather be played by a capable actor. A strong Shylock reveals enough to the audience.

2 Humor is more effective than instruction. A current character: the huffy Turk. All too often, he refrains from laughing with us, too often, he represents the desperate subject. Is there a limit? Yes. The bourgeoisie, boasting about their morality, ridicules the poor, the subordinates, the underclass. In those cases, it seems fitting to offer a slap in the face.

3 As soon as one replaces the character of the Jew with one of a Muslim, we have our answer. Those are the images of the Muslim that circulate in art and culture: the Muslim as a master of disguise; a plague to society; a rapist; an epidemic; a virus; the Muslims procreate like rats. The Muslims have it in for our women. The Muslims take over the country, the German nation disestablishes itself. We have to defend ourselves, we have to strike back. We will rescue the Occident, we will set fire to their Mosques...