Merchant of Venice Rhetorical Analysis

Topics: Judaism, Israel, The Merchant of Venice Pages: 3 (1055 words) Published: August 15, 2007
Religious discrimination has been present for centuries. It was present at the time of Shakespeare, just as it is present today, centuries later. In Shakespeare's time, Jews were a typical target of discrimination by Christians. As a result of constant Christian torment and humiliation, many Jews spurned the Christians. If given the opportunity, many Jews would retaliate against Christians with the same treatment Christians submitted them to. In William Shakespeare's play, "The Merchant of Venice," this opportunity arises for one particular Jew, Shylock. Shylock stirs up a range of emotions in the audience, when giving a speech to support his claim that he is entitled to regard the Christians with the same ill-treatment they have shown him.

Shylock, the speaker, is a Jewish moneylender in Venice, who is depicted as greedy, self-centered, and aloof. He has been discriminated against his whole life by Christians for being a Jew, and his only daughter disgraced him by stealing from him and eloping with a Christian. In the play, Shylock had lent money to a Christian merchant by the name of Antonio, and there is news that Antonio's ships had wrecked, and he will no longer be able to pay his debt to Shylock. Shylock then demands his bond, a pound of Antonio's flesh.

Shylock speaks directly to Salarino and Solanio, two of Antonio's companions. However, because this speech is in a play, the spectators of the play create Shylock's mediated audience and more importantly, his intended audience. This audience, in the day and age of Shakespeare, was apt to be a predominantly Christian audience. Shylock's speech was more intended for these Christians to hear, because Shylock wanted to reveal to them that he was their equal, and if they treated him poorly he should be able to treat them the same. However, instead of blatantly stating that his actions of retaliation are uncivilized, Shylock incorporates pathos into his speech. He does this in order to make the audience have...
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