Merchant of Venice

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Through the development of Shylock and Portia, Shakespeare has been able to address the main issues of The Merchant Of Venice such as mercy, law and revenge but he also questions their principles of trust. Also through Shylock, there are other issues such as racism and money that have been portrayed considerably and the role of women has also been developed by Portia. It’s not only these characters that demonstrate other major issues, as the concept of love and loyalty shown by Bassanio and Antonio, to their wives is also questionable.

Through Shylock, Shakespeare has expanded the issue of racism as Shylock is constantly being abused discriminated for being a Jew. Shakespeare depicts the Jews as being naturally spiteful and menial to Christians as a result of Shylock’s refusal to demonstrate mercy. Shylock’s fury has occured from countless years of abuse as he says “ the villainy you… better the instruction “ (Act 3 Scene 1 Line 56-57) claiming that he learnt the hatred from Christians themselves. He is often criticised for practising usury even though there are laws that prevent him from pursuing any other career as Christians see it as immoral.

The Christian characters in the play believe that being Christian is a requirement for being human as Shylock is criticized as being a devil or animal. With Gratiano remarking “o, be thou damn’d inexecrable dog! “ (Act 4 Scene 1 Line 128), Shakespeare has attempted to characterise Shylock as an inhumane scoundrel whose has a wicked desire for Christian flesh. Shylock defends himself in his speech where he argues “ Hath not a jew…as a Christian is “(Act 3 Scene 1 Line 46-50), defining humanity by illustrating his biological attributes with the Christians.

Shakespeare has also developed the significant issue of money through Shylock as he is the merchant of Venice. He is portrayed as a cold-hearted man that would sacrifice anything for money, with his daughter Jessica not even an exception. The main ideas of...
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