Comparing Hypocrisy in the Book Thief and the Merchant of Venice

Topics: The Merchant of Venice, Nazi Germany, Nazism Pages: 3 (1054 words) Published: December 6, 2012
Not Conforming to Beliefs
In both The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, some characters demonstrate hypocrisy in their words and actions. Though there are other traits that the characters show, such as cruelty and mercy, hypocrisy is one of the more interesting ones. The Duke demonstrates hypocrisy in The Merchant of Venice during the trial scene when he punishes Shylock for not showing Antonio mercy. Antonio shows he is a hypocrite in The Merchant of Venice when he criticizes Shylock for hating him. A character from The Book Thief who shows hypocrisy is Hans Hubermann when he joins the Nazi Party.

First of all, a character who demonstrates hypocrisy in the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare is the Duke during the trial scene. The Duke asks Shylock to show mercy towards Antonio, but then later, when Shylock is going to lose everything, he does not ask Antonio to give Shylock any mercy. The Duke says to Shylock: Forgive a moiety of the principal;

Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enough to press a royal merchant down,
And pluck commiseration of his state. (Shakespeare 4.1. 27-31) But Shylock does not show Antonio mercy. This act shows hypocrisy because the Duke tells Shylock to do something, in this case to give mercy, but when Antonio is in the same situation, the Duke does not care and lets Antonio not give Shylock any mercy. The Duke says that Shylock should give Antonio mercy because he has just lost all of his ships with his goods and now a great merchant is out of business. Later, when Shylock is the one who is going to lose everything and be in an even worse situation than Antonio, no one shows him an “Eye of Pity”. All of the Christians get angry at Shylock for not showing mercy towards Antonio even though he is following the law. The only reason for that is Shylock is a Jew. Even though Shylock has already lost Jessica and a lot of his money...

Cited: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice.
of_Venice_etext.pdf. Date retrieved: 19 September 2011.
Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
Guillemets, Terri. “The Quote Garden”.
“Quotations about Hypocrisy” Phoenix: 1998. Date retrieved: 8 November 2011.
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