Sederi 21 — 2011
Berta Cano Echevarría & Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco J. Borge López
Nicoleta Cinpoeş, “Defrauding Daughters Turning Deviant Wives? Reading Female Agency in The Merchant of Venice.” SEDERI 21 (2011): 133-146.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.34136/sederi.2011.7 Download PDF
Brabantio’s words “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:| She has deceived her father, and may thee” (Othello, 1.3.292–293) warn Othello about the changing nature of female loyalty and women’s potential for deviancy. Closely examining daughters caught in the conflict between anxious fathers and husbands-to-be, this article departs from such paranoid male fantasy and instead sets out to explore female deviancy in its legal and dramatic implications with reference to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. I will argue that Portia’s and Jessica’s struggle to evade male subsidiarity results in their conscious positioning themselves on the verge of illegality. Besides occasioning productive exploration of marriage, law and justice within what Morss (2007:183) terms “the dynamics of human desire and of social institutions,” I argue that female agency, seen as temporary deviancy and/or self-exclusion, reconfigures the male domain by affording the inclusion of previous outsiders (Antonio, Bassanio and Lorenzo).
Keywords: The Merchant of Venice; commodity/ commodification; subsidiarity; bonds/binding; marriage code versus friendship code; defrauding; deviancy; agency; conveyancing; (self)exclusion.
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