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Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

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Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

The Jews have unfairly endured extreme persecution for thousands of
years, because of their strong beliefs. The Jews lost their own
country to the Romans, and had to move out. They have not had an
official country until recently, and had to settle down in tight-knit
communities, in foreign countries. Their racial prejudice towards them
was caused by their intelligence, hard work and success in business in
conjunction with their hate for keeping up their customs and religion.
Another reason for their loathing is because they can be used as a
scapegoat. They are a convenient group to single out and blame for
troubles. Hitler, like many totalitarian dictators before him, needed
to divert blame for his nation’s problems by ascribing them to an
innocent victim. He randomly selected the Jews as his scapegoat and
launched a massive campaign against them to alienate them from
mainstream German society. He succeeded in his efforts, and as a
result, the overwhelming majority of Germans came to hate Jews.

Two thousand years ago, the Jews lived in a country now called Israel.
Unfortunately for them, the Romans had succeeded to take over their
land. The Romans let the Jews have religious freedom at first, but
later tried to abolish the Jewish faith and country, in a process
called ‘Diaspora’. This led to Jewish communities living all over the
world. Their hatred towards them can be understood, because of their
differences to the Christian faith.

Today, there is still quite a lot of racial hatred towards the Jews.
One example is the Palestinians. They live in a country next to Israel,
...


... middle of paper ...


...aracter, and
that is what makes him an interesting character. He is so complex; he
is both a victim and a villain, depending on the circumstances. My
conclusion is that Shylock cannot be given a label of ‘victim’ or
‘villain’; he is a complex mix of both. In the first part of the play,
i.e. before the court scene, he is more of a victim than a villain.
But as the plot unfolds and his plan comes to action, he is more of a
villain. There is no definite answer, and the whole victim and villain
argument is open to interpretation.

One thing is for sure, Shakespeare did not want us to think he was a
victim in any of this. In Shakespeare’s time, Jews were considered
lower class and mediocre, and probably this was the view Shakespeare
had. It is only through modern, anti-racist eyes, are we able to see
his victimisation.


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