Defining Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay example

Defining Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay example

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Defining Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

One of the factors that make Shakespeare plays famous is its
capability to appeal to wide range of audience. For example in The
Merchant of Venice Shakespeare brings up the question of religion,
racism and morality for the intellectuals amongst the Elizabethans but
for most off the groundlings and ill-educated it was a simply a battle
between Christians and Jews in which the Jew (e.g. Shylock) should end
up facing the heat of defeat in the climax.

England was a Christian country, where Christianity was followed and
taught from early ages. At this time Jews were perceived as "villains
of society" in fact in the Venetian community towards the centre of
Venice, you would find the homes of Christians and towards the
outskirts and suburbs you would find the homes of Jews which showed
that were hated, unwanted and excluded members of society. They were
far inferior and a marginalized community to that of the Christians
because of their religion. It was also at the time when the buzz was
going around about Jews being the killers of Christ for which they
were hated and secluded more.

Venice was a very desirable and rich place to live in being the
important trade route from the east to the west. Jews were often
banned from owning land or to participate in any trade. So effectively
the Jews ended up with a lot of spare cash to spend on investment.
Christians were banned to profit on lended money there fore they
borrowed money from the Jews and were hated by Christians for making
profit on money lending.

The first scene of the play is important because it introduces Anton...


... middle of paper ...


...The punishment given to shylock however was fair to 16th century
audience because of the racial prejudices between both the religions.
To the modern audience it is not the right climax because we know
about the bloodthirsty history of the holocaust, the mid-east battle
and the rise of political correction. They speak for themselves. Even
the Birth right of Shylock to believe in the Jewish religion is
snatched away from him which means unfair treatment towards the Jews.
Referring back to the question Shylock cannot be just a victim or a
villain; he has to be a composition of both. He is victim of abuses
some time and other times he is a villain in his actions and thoughts.
One thing to notice here is that Shylock is referred in the play more
as Jew, Wolf or devil. He is referred to as shylock very few times in
the play.

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