Merchant of Venice and the Crucible Comparison Essay

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Ashley Tam
Ms. Parker
ENG2DB – 01
December 17, 2010
Injustice: Power Gone Wrong
All communities run successfully with qualities of fairness and equality. The well-being of the citizens depends on the support and guidance they receive from those with power and influence in their society. When the people become corrupt and start having intentions that do not contribute back to the community, the society will fall apart and be unable to maintain balance and stability. In William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the reader sees examples of injustice inflicted on the victims within the plays through the people with power within the community. The Christians in The Merchant of Venice mock Shylock the Jew countless times while the high court in The Crucible believe citizens are practicing witchcraft without a proper testimony. In both situations, the Christians and the court see themselves doing the right thing and believe they are contributing to the society when in reality, they break apart the community by persecuting those that are different. The victims in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible suffer from injustice as power being placed in the wrong hands leads to the formation of biased decision, the limited free will of citizens and severe punishments.

The limited free will of the victims within the societies due to the manipulative mannerisms of the Christians and court subjects them to injustice. The way the Christians hate Shylock makes him have limited free will in the Venetian community. Shylock is unable to interact with the Christians due to his reputation as a moneylender. Shylock is unable to choose his occupation and as a moneylender, his only source of income is the interest he gains from it, resulting in the Christians hating him. This injustice forces him to be shunned from society and he ends up losing everything that he owns. The Jews only had moneylenders as their occupation and this injustice forces them to be unable to relate and communicate with society. “I am as like to call thee [dog] again, / To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too” (1.3.126-127) demonstrates the abuse Shylock receives. His limitedness in his occupation highlights the lack of orientation in their community and the need to force those that are different away. Solanio is “sure the duke will never grant this forfeiture to hold” (3.3.24-25) and as the play continues, Shylock faces a losing battle in which the power is evident in contributing to his destruction. He is faced with injustice every time he meets a Christian and this is limiting him in his performance in the community. Similarly, the court exerts limited free will on all citizens of Salem when they stay a devout Christian. All citizens need to be part of the theocracy and if one strays away from it, they are accused of being affiliated with the devil. “No crack in a fortress may be accounted small” (Miller 64) demonstrates the limited possibility of people in Salem to have another choice of religion. The power of the court forces those that were not part of the theocratic government to be eliminated from society. “These are all landholding farmers, members of the church… they’ve known the women many years and never saw no sign they had dealings with the Devil… should be summoned” (Miller 86-87) shows how those that wanted to prove the innocence of the accused are taken in to court to be questioned. Regardless of the many times the citizens of Salem tries to tell the court about the absurdity of witchcraft, the court would not listen. John Proctor goes “twenty-six time in seventeen month” (Miller 61) and it was not enough, thus he is accused of trying to overthrow the government. The injustice causes many people to die without being at fault. The flaws in the ruling of the government are evident throughout the play as the court refuses to listen and uses its power to determine the rules of...
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