even the scene in which shylock laments the loss of his daughter was played with much intensity. Thought Francis gentleman notes that the character’s grief was evident, his villainy apparently remained unmitigated throughout the play.
From these reports, one may discern that Macklin’s creation was the epitome of savagery and vindictiveness. Yet these comments should not be interpreted as indicating any disapproval of his famous stage figures of the period, and between February and May, 1741, the actor appeared in this role, according to biographer William Appleton, twenty-two times-an impressive figure by eighteenth- century standards. Moreover, performance marked the beginning of a new style of acting. Allardyce Nicoil, in “A History of English Drama”, 1660-1900, suggests that the arrival on the stage of Macklin and David Garrick led to a more natural and realistic method of delivery. Nicoil notes that Macklin’s portrayal of shylock was one of the earliest examples of this trend, and thus it becomes evident that his performance, in addition to its immense popularity contributed greatly to the development of a new school of acting.
Perhaps even more importantly, though, Macklin shed new light on shylock himself. His successful handling of the character provided strong evidence that shylock was more than farcical figure portrayed by Doggett. interestingly, this judgment has been shared by many of Macklin’s successors, though the shylocks by such later noteworthy figures as Edwin booth and Edmund Kean differed somewhat from Macklin’s version, the character was nevertheless treated seriously. And while there still remains some debate over the precise handling of the role, there is little disagreement concerning the value of Macklin’s contribution. In an article as well as a historical sense, then, Macklin’s interpretation of shylock represents an indelible theater landmark.
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