Merchant of Venice Essay

Topics: Antisemitism, Jews, Israel Pages: 3 (1009 words) Published: April 22, 2010
Merchant of Venice Essay
The Merchant of Venice is a Shakespearian play whose plot is centered around love and loss. Throughout the play Shakespeare satirizes Jewish stereotypes and depicts acts of extreme bigotry, this has lead to a significant amount of debate as to whether or not Shakespeare was antiemetic. However when one makes a detailed analysis of the text it becomes increasingly evident that Shakespeare holds a very biased view of the Jewish people. Throughout the story, Shylock is tormented by shallow Christians whom Shakespeare portrays as protagonists, and Shylock himself is made into the picture of the time's Jewish stereotype. Through his characters, Shakespeare deepens and encourages the time's anti-Jewish sentiment. Throughout the play, Shakespeare glorifies the Christians who depersonalize and alienate Shylock by refusing to use his given name. Instead, they call him “the Jew”, “the villain Jew”, “this currish Jew”, “impenetrable cur”, “harsh Jew”, “infidel”, “cruel devil”, and “the devil in the likeness of the Jew”. And the Christians of Venice do not stop at verbal abuse; they “spit upon [his] Jewish gabardine,…[voided their] rheum upon [his] beard And [footed him] as [they would] spurn a stranger cur” (Shakespeare 14). Even when Shylock speaks out in his own defense by quoting scripture, he is rebuked by Antonio who replies, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose./ An evil soul producing holy witness/ Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,/ A goodly apple rotten at the heart:/ O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!” (Shakespeare 14). It is standard practice for Christians to defend their beliefs or actions by citing scripture so with just that single line, Shakespeare strips Jews on both the inside and outside of his fictional work of there only way to argue back. Shakespeare depicts these heinous acts while making them sound routine, as if they are nothing out of the ordinary; he even rewards these undeserving characters for their...
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