Antisemitism in the Middle Ages Essay

Antisemitism in the Middle Ages Essay

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In the year of 1492, most people instantly think of the Columbus’ discovery of the New World. But in the joy of the discovery of the New World also comes the tragedy of the Old World. The Spanish Inquisition was one of the darkest periods of time in Jewish history. Christianity’s view of other religions as inferior is portrayed in many well-known pieces of literature, including one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, The Merchant of Venice. Towering over Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Merchant of Venice is the tragic figure of Shylock, a man who represents the treatment of the Jewish people in his time period. Before beginning to understand Shylock, it is vital to understand the historical and dramatic influences under which Shakespeare wrote. These feelings of superiority eventually bring to the Jewish people a loss of culture and respect. To understand the portrayal of Jewish characters in literature such as The Merchant of Venice, it is important to understand the Jewish people of the era and what kind of treatment and trail they went through.
“Signior Antonio,…You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, And all for use of that which is mine own. Well then, it now appears you need my help…” (The Merchant of Venice. Act 1, Scene 3 106, 111-114) Shylock makes a reasonable point that it would be questionable if he were to just simply repay Antonio's injustices against him with kindness. This would be merciful, but Antonio doesn't ask him for mercy, nor does Shylock seem too peachy keen to give it. Their shared hatred for each other may have been justified, but when Antonio comes to seek help from Shylock, the tables are turned. Shylock can rightfully demand an apology, or at ...


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...n and it’s effect on both literature and society.



Works Cited

Lewis, Bernard. Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print
"Modern Jewish History: The Spanish Expulsion." The Spanish Expulsion (1492). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.bd
Roth, Cecil. A History of the Jews. New York: Schocken, 1961. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Kenneth Myrick. The Merchant of Venice. New York: New American Library, 1965. Print
Shapiro, James S. Shakespeare and the Jews. New York: Columbia UP, 1996. Print.
"Spain Virtual Jewish History Tour | Jewish Virtual Library." Spain Virtual Jewish History Tour | Jewish Virtual Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
"Virtual Jewish World: Venice, Italy." Venice, Italy Jewish History Tour. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
The New American Bible. Nashville: Catholic Bible, 1987. Print

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