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Being and Having in Shakespeare$
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Katharine Eisaman Maus

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698004

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698004.001.0001

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Heirs and Affines in The Merchant of Venice

Heirs and Affines in The Merchant of Venice

Chapter:
(p.59) 3 Heirs and Affines in The Merchant of Venice
Source:
Being and Having in Shakespeare
Author(s):

Katharine Eisaman Maus

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698004.003.0003

In The Merchant of Venice, written between Richard II and 1 Henry IV, Shakespeare considers some of the same issues from a different generic point of view. Merchant can highlight the question of what can be bartered for, exchanged, contracted for, and what can’t, in a way that is even more pointed, because more counterfactually vivid, than the history plays can accommodate. As a comedy, it is more interested in intimate and domestic relations than in power politics; Merchant focuses particularly on how property figures in the intimacy between marriageable or married couples, the intimacy between parent and child, and the intimacy between friends of the same sex. This chapter focuses particularly on the property transfers that attend the marriage of heiresses such as Portia and Jessica, and the mixed emotions that those transfers generate on the part of the heiresses’ fathers, their new sons-in-law, and the heiresses themselves.

Keywords:   The Merchant of Venice, daughter, inheritance, coverture, Laban, casket test

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