Themes Merchant of Venice

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The themes of Shakespeare’s plays are just as relevant to today’s society as they were in his day. Discuss making close reference to The Merchant of Venice. In The Merchant of Venice hate, loyalty, pride and prejudice, love and friendship are just some of the themes investigated with in the play. These themes, although were evident in the time of Shakespeare, are just as significant and universal today. Shylock, the Jew, explores most of these negative themes as in the play he is depicted as being driven by hate. On the other hand though characters such as Bassanio and Antonio are portrayed with the themes of positivity.

Shylock and Antonio’s relationship is greatly complex, in that it has many issues that contribute to their affiliation of hate. They were business rivals. However, Antonio's main business is that of a merchant, buying and selling goods and shipping them to other ports, whereas Shylock is a moneylender who makes money by charging interest on loans. This is not Shylock's job by choice--there were a limited number of jobs, which Jews were allowed to do, and this was one of them. However, Antonio has been lending money to people without interest, which cuts into Shylock's business. It's rather like having a business competitor move in and start giving away the goods you are trying to sell. He's going to put you out of business. Antonio has other resources, which enable him to lend money gratis Shylock has not. On top of that, Antonio is rude and condescending to Shylock just because he is Jewish. This is stated by Shylock by asking Antonio’s friends “What is his reason? I am a Jew.” He may not be the rudest and most condescending person in Venice toward Jews, but the fact that he is lumps him in with the worst offenders in Shylock's mind.

Shylock is the pure icon of hatred in the play. As we have previously found out Antonio hates him because he is a Jew. Shylock tells us of his discrimination by saying; “You spit on me Wednesday last, you...
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