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Essay on Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

To Shakespeare's Audience Shylock was the Villain of the Merchant of
Venice, Yet a Modern Day Audience sees Shylock as a Man Persecuted
because of his Religion, Discuss this Statement with Detailed
Reference to the Text and Explain this Change of Attitude.

This is not just a change of attitude but a change in the way of life
for the people of the world over this troubled four hundred years. In
the era of the Elizabethan's when the Merchant of Venice was
originally written the world was a different place, there were
different attitudes and views , particularly towards Jews. The
difference between Jews and Christians was not merely a difference in
opinion and belief; back then they were regarded as almost an entirely
different species. Christians had ultimate supremacy over the Jews as
well as other cultures and religions, Christians ruled Europe and
anyone who opposed stood little chance in front of the biased
Christian court system. There was no wrong seen in spitting upon,
insulting or blatantly disrespecting the beliefs of any Jew they
wanted to. Not only were the Jews treated as inferior but they were
also denied many rights and privileges, they were not allowed to work
because nobody would employ them due to conflicting schedules around
the Sabbath with Jews not being able to work on Saturdays and
Christians on Sundays. This soon became accepted and Jews were forced
into usury, the act of lending money and charging interest upon its
return, this was frowned upon by Christians. This only fuelled their
fiery hatred for all things unchristian for Christians were the
unques...


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causing Shylock in the process. Yes Shylock wanted revenge, but for
who? If every other Jew could get by under these circumstances then
why couldn't he? The only real reason Shylock wanted revenge was
because of his daughter leaving him and he was enforcing his petty
vengeance on the first person he got the opportunity to, and it was
not true revenge either but a chance he saw in his bitter eyes and
seized. Although Antonio was far from perfection, he was a better man
than the devilish Shylock. Not because he was a Christian but because
he showed 'the quality of mercy' to a man who had tried to end his
life whereas Shylock could not show it to a man who merely threw the
odd insult at him which was considered ordinary anyway.

Poetic justice was served on Shylock for his malice in an ironically
cruel twist of fate.


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