Shylock celebrates Easter
in Forms of faith
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One common response to the seemingly radical tonal shift between Acts 4 and 5 has been to scour the latter for signs of dissension and unease: evidence that all is not as well in Belmont as it appears. This chapter expresses that the two acts are united by a pervasive Easter symbolism that revolves around Shylock's conversion. Act 4's echoes of the passion and crucifixion are well known. But if Act 4 alludes to Good Friday, Act 5 alludes to Holy Saturday and the dawning of Easter Sunday. While the language and rituals of the Easter Vigil present an uncomplicated narrative of Jewish-Christian succession, the liturgy's complicated history raises implicit questions about that narrative and about the immutability of any religious identity. Protestant familiarity with the Vigil appears to have come through multiple channels. The play is unquestionably more interested in Christian harmony than in Christian-Jewish harmony.

Forms of faith

Literary form and religious conflict in early modern England


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