Treatment of Shylock by the Christians in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Treatment of Shylock by the Christians in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

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Treatment of Shylock by the Christians in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice


Two thousand years ago Jews were known as Hebrews or Israelites and
lived in Israel. At the time their land was occupied by Romans who
tried to crush the Jewish faith and culture. Due to this, Jewish
people fled Israel to make new lives and Jewish communities in other
countries. In these communities Jews were known for their intelligence
and business sense which led to them being mistrusted and resented.
This was especially the case in Christian terms; where anti-Semitic
feelings were very strong. This is shown in a Merchant of Venice by
Shylock who constantly suffers verbal abuse and gives a vivid account
of Antonio’s racist bullying. Shylock is also shown in the play to be
a villain and could be seen as a miserly money lender who delights in
the prospect of cutting a pound of flesh from the noble merchant who
has exposed his corrupt ways and also as a father who cares more for
his money than his daughter. In this essay I am going to show how
Shylock was treated by the Christians and whether his reactions were
justified.

In Act 1, Scene 3 Shakespeare clearly shows the audience how Bassanio
and Antonio are abusive towards Shylock. Antonio is abusive to Shylock
in front of others and refers to him as ‘an evil soul’ and ‘the devil’
when asking for the loan. Shylock reacts to this by keeping Antonio
and Bassanio waiting for an answer and seems to ignore their insults.
‘Three thousand ducats is a good round sum’. Shylock also says how he
and other Jews have been mistreated in the past. ‘For sufferance is
the badge of our tribe. You call me misbelie...


... middle of paper ...


... not always justified as he can be quite rude but sometimes his
responses to abuse is respectable as he isn’t rude to Salerio and
Solanio when they taunt him and show prejudice to him which shows a
kinder more decent side to him which is perhaps just an image he
presents which would show how cunning he is. His decision to follow up
his bond with Antonio when he couldn’t pay back the money back fired
on him in the end and his cruelty to not let him off ended him up in
trouble and losing him everything which is perhaps the message
Shakespeare is trying to give in the play. I think the play is
anti-semitic in my opinion, as Christians throughout show lack of
respect to Shylock, at times for his religion. Shakespeare also gives
Shylock a bad image and attitude for most of the play which is perhaps
a little anti-semitic.

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