Merchant of Venice

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Merchant of Venice
I agree with the statement saying that the main issues of The Merchant of Venice are credited to the development of Shylock and Portia. Throughout the story, the characters of Shylock and Portia are the ones who raise many significant matters to do with Venetian society and even our society today. Shylock’s experiences in the story bring up topics of racism and revenge, while through the character of Portia, issues such as justice, mercy and the role of women in a patriarchal society, are explored. However, I also believe that through the other characters of Bassanio and Antonio, important subjects of friendship and loyalty are established.

One of the most predominant issues expressed in The Merchant of Venice would be race. In the play, it is evident through the behaviours of the other characters, that the Jewish people in Venetian society were largely looked down upon and regarded as inferior. We are definitely able to see this kind of unjust treatment towards the Jewish people through the character of Shylock, who was stereotypically depicted as a spiteful moneylender. In their society, Christianity and Judaism were not just religions, but racial identities that defined a person’s status. Shylock is labelled with dehumanising insults by Antonio and is referred to as a “misbeliever”, a “cut-throat dog” and a “cur”. Antonio curses Shylock’s religion and ethnicity by mocking him and consistently mentioning what he sees as idiosyncrasies of Judaism. This can be seen through Shylock’s professional practice of charging interest, causing Antonio to be resentful towards all the Jewish moneylenders. He also physically demonstrates his disdain by kicking and spitting on Shylock. Shylock expresses his frustration in the discrimination of Jews in his “Hath not a Jew eyes” speech, which is perhaps the most famous passage in the text. In his speech, he asks "if you prick us do we not bleed?” insisting that Jews and Christians share a common...
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