Knight of Crowns - Jessica

Dramatis Personae: Jessica.

Text & Context: The Hebrew origin of the name Jessica, Yiskāh, means "foresight", the ability to see future potential. Like a rat - a "pirate" as Shylock jests - she abandons her father's sinking ship. Perhaps she sees the future potential in Lorenzo, or foresees Shylock's imminent demise, but surely fleeing like a thief in the night with the family jewels won't vouchsafe the former whereas it assures the latter. For it is Jessica's betrayal - Jessica herself being Shylock's future potential - that rips out what heart was in him and determines his mind resolutely to retribution from the Christian, Antonio.

 Throughout The Merchant of Venice, the allegory of the Golden Fleece is incurred, sometimes making specific connection with that quarry to Portia. By extrapolation, then, Jessica corresponds to Medea, the daughter who betrays her father and sails away with the enemy party. But as we learn, all that glisters is not gold - Jason proved untrue and Medea's end was about as bad as could be. And in case there were any doubt as to her and Lorenzo's interfaith fate, consider the doomed lovers they themselves liken Jessica to: Cressid, Thisbe, Dido, and Medea.

 

 If the bonds of marriage in The Merchant of Venice were money ventures, as the text itself commends, none would be a safe bet, let alone accountable. Of the three rings duly pledged and easily parted with in the play, the Christian two were as peas in thimblerig, whereas we may never know if the hearsay regarding the third was true: that it was given up for a monkey. 

 What we do know is that when Shylock hears that the turquoise ring - the stone of which is said to reconcile man to wife - given him in betrothal by Leah - who, speaking of lovers of lore, was wife to Jacob and mother of the Twelve Tribes - was discredited and debased in such a way, Christian Venice became to him a wilderness of monkeys.

 

Intertext: Crowns 9 Portia; Cups 4 Antonio; Justice XI Shylock.