Monday, December 3, 2012

Shakespeare References In "All In The Family" Season Two

All In The Family, starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, has a couple of Shakespeare references in its second season.  If you are familiar with the character of Archie Bunker (played by Caroll O'Connor), it might not be a surprise to learn that both references are to The Merchant Of Venice.  The first in is the episode titled "Edith's Accident." Edith (Jean Stapleton) dents someone's car with her shopping cart, and leaves a note with her name, phone number and address. The owner of the car calls to say he's coming over. Archie (Carroll O'Connor), assuming the guy is coming to shake them down, says, "The dent in his car is hardly cold, and he's comin' over here to claim his pound of fish."  Archie often mixes up his words when making a point, and this line is obviously a reference to the "pound of flesh."

The second reference to The Merchant Of Venice is in the episode titled "Maude" (this was the episode that set up the series' first spin-off). Maude's daughter Carol (Marcia Rodd) suddenly learns that her fiance, David, has bought a house without consulting her. He tells her it was a bargain. Carol responds, "I should have known you couldn't pass up a good bargain." David then says, "Is that some reference to the fact that I'm Jewish? Do you want to see if I bleed? Do you want to see if a Jew bleeds? Walter, give me the knife. You want a pound of my blood?"  This is a strange combination of references. The line "Do you want to see if I bleed?" of course refers to Shylock's great speech in Act III Scene i, specifically the line "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"  And then the "pound of my blood" refers to the pound of flesh that Antonio must forfeit to Shylock if he fails to pay him back on time. It is interesting that in the episode he says "pound of my blood," for it is the fact that the bond says nothing about blood that allows Portia to keep Shylock from getting his payment.

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