On Différance between Shakespeare’s Shylock and Bakathir’s Shylock
Keywords: Bakathir, Derrida, différance, Jewish identity, Shakespeare, Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, The New Shylock
Enigmatic Shylock, the central figure of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (1596), and its varied interpretations continue to intrigue critics since the play’s publication. One of the most faithful yet different of its adaptations is Bakathir’s The New Shylock (1945). The present paper aims at deconstructing Shakespeare’s Shylock and Bakathir’s Shylock in the light of Derrida’s concept “différance” to compare the two versions of the Jew and possibly capture the extremes of Jewish identity through several stages of their history. The significance of comparing Bakathir’s version of the Jew, which exemplifies the opposite Eastern pole, to the Shakespearean Western is supposed to portray two crucial stages in the process of Jewish identity construction. Tackling the two Shylocks from the deconstructive perspective provides a text-oriented analysis focusing primarily on the binaries and the semantic and etymological meanings of words that reflect the tell-tale moments in both texts. The study finds out that whereas Shakespeare’s Shylock is defeated because of his inability to control events, Bakathir’s Shylock succeeds in mastering the play of circumstances, but temporarily. His suicide, at the end, enhances possibilities to answer the main inquiry: Who is “Shylock”? Therefore, further studies are recommended to compare and contrast Shakespeare’s Shylock with the most recent adaptations, in the East or the West, using the same theoretical framework to provide an image of the Jew/ Zionist in the spatial and temporal processes of the Jewish enigmatic identity development.