The Merchant of Venice

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Parent-Child Relationship Between Jessica and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

After reading The Merchant of Venice, we should ask ourselves if Shylock, who many people perceive as tragedy stricken and victimized, is in fact so hard done by after all. When it comes to family matters, I believe that Shylock is the ultimate cause behind his awful relationship with Jessica. In this play, Shakespeare portrays an old fashioned child-parent relationship in which the child feels inferior to the parent. Shylock and Jessica lack trustworthiness, care, love, and consideration for one another. Their horrible relationship, which is a huge attribute to the play, is not due to conflicting personalities as commonly believed, but rather to the fact that Shylock is a terrible father.

Over the course of the novel, Shylock and Jessica have numerous disagreements on certain issues, and Shylock is too stubborn to compromise. Firstly, when it comes to issues regarding religion, the two dispute because Jessica is ashamed to be Jewish while Shylock takes pride in it. Jessica clearly shows how upset she is to be Jewish when she says, “Alack, what heinous sin it is in me to be asham’d to be my father’s child! But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners” (2.3.18). When Jessica is speaking to Launcelot, she essentially says that she would never act like she a Jew, which displays the lack of pride and hatred she has towards this “flaw” of hers. Secondly, Shylock persistently will not give Jessica any more freedom, and the ability to make her own decisions. Before the party that Shylock decides to attend, he says to Jessica:

...Hear you me, Jessica. Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum and the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife, clamber not you up to the casements then, nor thrust your head into the public street, to gaze on Christian fools with varnished faces. But stop my house’s ears—I mean my casements—let not the sound of shallow foppery enter...
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