Sara Coodin
Search for other papers by Sara Coodin in
Current site
Google Scholar
‘This was a way to thrive’
Christian and Jewish eudaimonism in The Merchant of Venice
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

The discourse of self-help in Shakespeare’s era was deeply immersed in questions of what it was possible to control and how to effect a reshaping of the self in accordance with objective ideals. Accordingly, self-cultivation, as it was outlined in many vernacular English Renaissance guides to health and happiness, was profoundly concerned with the exercise of moral agency. This chapter begins with a discussion of the philosophical context for early modern writings on emotion, one that stems from self-help texts’ own emphasis on lifelong self-cultivation that was understood in eudaimonistic terms, that is to say, concerned with moral flourishing. It then turns to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and the question of moral flourishing in that play. Typically, questions of moral thriving in Merchant have been tied to Christian allegory, but this chapter proposes a reading of the play that foregrounds the ethnographic identity of Shakespeare’s characters within a larger discussion of eudaimonistic flourishing and ‘way[s] to thrive,’ as Shylock refers to it. Shakespeare takes up that conversation about thrift, I argue, in complex ways by giving voice to two distinct models of moral flourishing in The Merchant of Venice: Christian and Jewish.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

All of MUP's digital content including Open Access books and journals is now available on manchesterhive.


The Renaissance of emotion

Understanding affect in Shakespeare and his contemporaries


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 183 77 6
Full Text Views 74 8 8
PDF Downloads 45 7 6