(Note: this post, which first appeared on May 12, is back from blogger oblivion.) Actor Patrick Stewart (a.k.a Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard) is a man with a mission. He says he wants to make The Merchant of Venice's Shylock--get this--"more likable."
Hey, go for it, Patrick. But know this: you are going against the spirit of the character as written by the Bard in what Harold Bloom has called "a profoundly anti-Semitic play." And trying to make Shylock cuddlier in no way mitigates the play's nasty, inherent Judenhass.
As for me, I'm far more comfortable with those who are willing to come clean re the reality of what this play is than those who try to sanitize it by making one of the most reprehensible characters in the literary canon appear "nicer."