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The Relativization of Victim and Perpetrator in the Hungarian Productions of Merchant of Venice and Mein Kampf

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Chapter Summary

The Kamaraszínház of Budapest opened its new space, Tivoli Theater, in 1998, with Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, directed by Róbert Alföldi. It was one of the first productions which directly addressed the rise of anti-Semitism and racism in post-socialist Hungary. Both the productions of Róbert Alföldi's Merchant of Venice and Roland Rába's Mein Kampf chose to juxtapose two characters of oppositional forces: Shylock and Antonio, and Schlomo and Hitler. Szilágyi reviews; Mein Kampf for "relativising the Evil". Hitler, he says, is represented as a flippant, hysterical and gutless young man," while Schlomo is portrayed as "a pervert and frugal old man who even ridicules God. The thesis of these two works is that all are responsible for what is happening in our society, and that no one, not even the Jewish community, can be exonerated from the moral defects and prejudices that poison everyday life in contemporary Hungary.

Keywords:anti-Semitism; Hitler; Hungary; Jewish community; mein kampf; merchant; Róbert Alföldi; Shylock; Venice



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