“Motley” arises in As You Like It precisely eight times, half of which appear within twenty-two lines of each other, and the majority of which are spoken in the same act, the same scene, and by the same character. To no surprise, this character so seemingly infatuated with “motley” is none other than Jacques.
Jessica is doubly distinguished. Unlike her father, Shylock, she is said to be gentle; at once noble and gentile. Yet, she remains a daughter to Shylock’s blood despite her conversion. According to Mary Metzger, representations of Jessica turn on alternating characterizations of her as a latent Christian and as a racialized and thus unintegrable Jew. Until recently, discussions of race or Jewishness in the Merchant tended to focus on Shylock, thus ignoring the intersection of religion, gender, and class. Metzger argues that, in order to elucidate The Merchant’s relation to early modern England’s emerging ideology of race, attention must be paid to the shifting emphases on discourses of gender, class, and religion in Shakespeare’s representation of Jessica. Continue reading
The fashion excesses of the Elizabethan era dwarf even the most outrageous walkways in Milan today. One earl was reported as spending half his annual income on clothing alone. It was common practice for landlords to part with some of their valuable turf merely to bolster their closets. The wealthy swanked about in outfits often richly decked with gold, silver and jewelry, elaborately ruffled and stitched to the very bottom seam. Continue reading