Anti-Semitism and the Merchant of Venice

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Asiya Wallace
November 30, 2012
English 100
Anti- Semitism & The Merchant of Venice
Anti-Semitism is the suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. In the play The Merchant of Venice, there was a very strong anti-Semitic attitude throughout the movie. African Americans also had to deal with hatred, enslavement, and discrimination during the Civil Rights Movement. Anti-Semitism and The Civil Rights Movement have a lot in common. During the Civil Rights Movement African Americans were treated unfairly and discriminated against just like the Jews were. They both were enslaved and treated wrongly because of who they were. The portrayal of Shylock in the movie Merchant of Venice, the Jews in society during the Anti-semantic eras and the portrayal of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement show how both of these two groups were treated in negative discriminating ways. There was a general anti-Semitic attitude that was prevalent among the majority of London's population. As a result, Shakespeare seems to have incorporated that same attitude towards Jews in the play with his treatment and portrayal of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. In the movie we watched about the play, The Merchant of Venice the character Shylock is undoubtedly shown to be greedy, shrewd, and somewhat conniving. The way others look down at him suggests an inferior social status. He loans Bassanio the money only after Antonio agrees to surrender a pound of his own flesh to Shylock if the payment is not made within three months. His demand of a pound of flesh provokes us to adopt a rather disgusted and negative attitude towards the Jew. Because Shylock is portrayed to be so sinister and wicked in his ways, Shakespeare seems to set us against him. Furthermore, Shylock's interaction with other characters seems to make him the villain. His numerous insults and utter hatred of Antonio and Christianity creates an...
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