Shakespear: the Jewish Person in the Eyes of Others

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The Position of the Jewish Person
The play, The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare, can be viewed by many as anti-Semitic or extremely cruel to the Jewish people and faith alike. In this play, there are countless lines where various characters bash Shylock, the main antagonist, with hatful comments towards his religion. For example, Shylock is referred to as Jew seemingly more often than his own name. In fact, the play is centered on Shylock’s hate for Antonio, the main protagonist, because of Antonio’s pursuit to harass and abuse him solely because Shylock is Jewish. However, The Merchant of Venice was not considered anti-Semitic in the sixteenth century because the play’s audience was well aware and, perhaps, took part in the open discrimination of the Jewish people. So, near the end of the play when Antonio speaks the line “…he presently become a Christian” (IV. i.403). Antonio is, in an unorthodox manor, saving Shylock from the constant harassment he would have received if he were to remain Jewish. The view of the Jewish religion has changed much since the sixteenth century. While there is still anti-Semitism taking place, most, if not all, is not public. However there are some similarities between the view if the Jewish people in the sixteenth century and the view of them now. For example, there are numerous anti-Semitic groups littered throughout the United States of America alone. For example, the American Nazi Party is a group that actively participates in anti-Semitism. The view of the Jewish people has, in some cases remained the same since the sixteenth century; however, there are other cases in which that view has changed.

The view of the Jewish people and their religion has, in some cases remained the same since the sixteenth century. Many may not realize it but there is anti-Semitism occurring today. For example, the 2005 Neo-Nazi parade in Toledo was the promotion of anti-Semitism and racism. Just like Antonio...
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