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Fleisher, M.L. (1999). Shylock and Antonio's Bond. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(2):551-571.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(2):551-571

Shylock and Antonio's Bond Related Papers

Michael L. Fleisher

“I gobble you, my dear Maynard.” “I want to be … gobbled abundantly.”

—Letters of Lydia Lopokova and J. M. Keynes

Rest you fair, good signior! Your worship was the last man in our mouths.

—The Merchant of Venice, I.iii.56-57

The relationship between Shylock and Antonio is the dramatic core of Shakespeare's great play The Merchant of Venice; the love story is of secondary dramatic importance. As Ernst Kris has noted (Kris and Kaplan 1948), ambiguity is the hallmark of all great works of art, an ambiguity resulting from each work's containing a variety of themes. Several themes, including revenge, greed, prejudice, hatred, and homosexuality, have already been cited as a basis for Shylock and Antonio's relationship. Though not everyone would agree, I believe the play is flawed, in that their relationship is interrupted rather than resolved. It is therefore more difficult to clearly understand the multidetermined sources of this complicated relationship. I hope to show that an important force in their feelings for each other is the intense set of oral desires that Bertram Lewin (1950) described as “the oral triad”: wishes to eat, to be eaten, and to sleep.

Let us review those aspects of the play to be focused on. It opens with Antonio wondering why he's depressed.

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