5. The real evil in The Merchant of Venice is the corrupt value system of the principal Christian characters. Discuss this proposition in light of the evidence from the play.
Throughout William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice the antagonist appears to be Shylock and his desire for revenge. However, as the text goes further, it becomes clear that the real evil in The Merchant of Venice is the corrupt value system of the principal Christian characters. These characters profess to being Christian and thus should follow the morals and values that Jesus and the Bible taught them. However, the Christians’ values in this play are corrupt and do not stay true to their religious teachings. The Christians’ corrupt value system is evident in their discrimination against Jews, their attitude towards mercy, their passion for money and their undervaluing of women in society. The corrupt value system of the Christians is most apparent in their racism and feeling of superiority over the Jews. The Bible tells us that ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek… for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28) and yet the Christians in this play do not obey this commandment at all. Shylock relates that Antonio ‘spat on [him] Wednesday last;/[Antonio] called [him] “dog”’ (1.3) and throughout this they are also ‘call [him] ‘misbeliever’, ‘cut-throat dog’,/ And spit upon [his] Jewish gabardine’ (1.3). The Christian’s discrimination against Shylock is even more prominent in Shylock’s speech in Act Three, scene one. Shylock states that ‘[Antonio] hath disgraced me…scorned my nations… and what’s [Antonio’s] reason? I am a Jew’ (3.1). Shylock continues to ask them why he is deserving of their racism when they are all humans as he rhetorically asks ‘Hath not a Jew eyes’(3.1) and ‘If you prick us do we not bleed’ (3.1). In Shylock’s speech he is asking the Christians why they victimize him so, especially as the Bible tells Christians ‘God shows no partiality.’ (Romans 2:9-11) The...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document