Shakespeare's Bias on Religon in The Merchant of Venice Essay

Shakespeare's Bias on Religon in The Merchant of Venice Essay

Length: 1033 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice there is a palpable hatred between the Jewish moneylender Shylock and the privileged prodigal Christians Bassanio, Lorenzo, Antonio, Gratiano and Portia. History shows that Jews have long been persecuted and despised for not accepting Christianity, Islam or other religions of the majority as their own. Yet choice of religion is not the cause for the two cultures abhorrence. Their detestation is much more deep-rooted; it stems from their antithetical cultural beliefs. Shakespeare depicts lifestyles; morals and values that completely oppose each other, the very natures of his Christian characters cancel Shylock’s defining characteristics. The closed-off, cautious, restrained, simple, lonely man is thrust into the social, extravagant, spendthrift world of Christianity. Disliked as much for his skinflint profession and bare life style as he is for his religion, he is a stranger in a society that contradicts everything he feels and believes.
As the play progresses towards the end it becomes clear that Shylock’s selfish, narrow and mechanical values are unfit and unworthy to live by. Eventually Shakespeare has Portia destroy Shylock, thus indicating Christianity as the superior lifestyle. Yet it is not out of anti-Semitism that Shakespeare strips Shylock of his principles, rather it is a conclusion on how life should be lived. Although the Christians in The Merchant of Venice are far from perfect, with their hypocrisy of mercy and extreme materialism, their life is still preferable to the stingy, antisocial, void of emotional connection alternative.
Before Shylock even enters the play, Shakespeare hints at the intolerance of the Christian society through his protagonist Portia. As Por...


... middle of paper ...


...s. Portia expounds extensively on the Christian ideal of mercy, saying, “It is an attribute to God himself,” but ironically exercises none in dolling out Shylock’s punishment; forcing him to convert to Christianity and seizing half his wealth, the Christians show him no pity. True to form, Shakespeare depicts his characters with all their human flaws; they make mistakes. Nevertheless it is the Christians whom he places hope for the future in. Their values and ideals are good and they strive to achieve them. Belmont’s paradise, both unattainable and perfect, represents the harmony and order that they endeavor to. Shylock’s ideals leave one with nothing to live for, while the Christians celebrate and appreciate life and are content.



Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Lawrence Danson. New York: Pearson Education, 2005. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare 's, The Merchant of Venice, acts contrary to the majority of Elizabethan literature, by exhibiting strong, witty, and independent women. William Shakespeare is well known for writing headstrong female characters such as Viola from Twelfth Night, or Hermia from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Therefore, it should be no surprise that three spirited young women are present in The Merchant of Venice. Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica all show an alternative side of women by acting on their own accord and taking control of their personal destinies....   [tags: The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare]

Strong Essays
1167 words (3.3 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

- Bassanio is talking about his love, Portia. One reason that Bassanio uses such descriptive language is to better paint a picture in the mind of his friend Antonio. Because Bassanio adds a comment about Portia’s sunny, beautiful hair, the audience is able to imagine the pretty heiress in all her splendor. Descriptive language complements the mental idea forming in the audience’s head. Without it, Portia’s character would be nebulous and insubstantial as of this point. Jarringly, the racism of the time period pours out of Portia’s mouth in regard to her suitor, the Prince of Morocco....   [tags: The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, Portia, Mind]

Strong Essays
933 words (2.7 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

- Upon an initial examination of William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, a reader is provided with superficial details regarding the moral dilemmas embedded in the text. Further analysis allows a reader to recognize the multi-faceted issues each character faces as an individual in response to his or her surroundings and/or situations. Nevertheless, the subtle yet vital motif of music is ingrained in the play in order to offer a unique approach to understanding the plot and its relationship with the characters....   [tags: The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare, Love]

Strong Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

- Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice contains an array of interesting and complex characters. From the alternately generous and grasping Antonio to the alternately love stricken and exploitative Bassanio to the vulnerable and manipulative Portia, this play has an abundance of multi-layered personalities. However, one of the most intriguing characters is also the most oft-vilified and minimized in the work. This character, Shylock, is certainly just as compelling as any of the aforementioned—if not more so, because he acts as the catalyst for the majority of the interesting sections of the play (i.e....   [tags: Merchant Venice Shakespeare Characters Essays]

Strong Essays
1695 words (4.8 pages)

The Theme of Prejudice in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- The Theme of Prejudice in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare                William Shakespeare's satirical comedy, The Merchant of Venice, is an examination of hatred and greed. Prejudice is a dominant theme in The Merchant of Venice, most notably taking the form of anti-Semitism. Shylock is stereotypically described as "costumed in a recognizably Jewish way in a long gown of gabardine, probably black, with a red beard and/or wing like that of Judas, and a hooked putty nose or bottle nose" (Charney, p....   [tags: Merchant Venice Essays Shakespeare]

Free Essays
1760 words (5 pages)

Responsibilities in William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice Essay

- Responsibilities in William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice The small and seemingly insignificant details in a story often hold together an entire theme of the work. This phenomenon is recognizable in the plays of William Shakespeare, as a speech or incident with a minor character can point the audience to a much larger truth about the work as a whole. The Merchant of Venice contains such a minor character, Lancelot, whose story gives a clue to the reader about the roles of the other characters in the play....   [tags: Shakespeare Merchant Venice essays]

Strong Essays
1213 words (3.5 pages)

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

- Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice With every great story line comes a theme. William Shakespeare created an art of intertwining often unrecognizable themes within his plays. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, one hidden theme is the idea of homosexuality. This theme might not have even been noticed until modern Shakespeare fans discovered them. According to Alan Bray’s book, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, “the modern image of ‘the homosexual’ cannot be applied to the early modern period, when homosexual behavior was viewed in terms of the sexual act and not an individual's broader identity.” (Columbia University Press)....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1464 words (4.2 pages)

Essay The Power of Words in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

- In theatrical performance, the fictional realm of drama is aligned with the factual, or “real” world of the audience, and a set of actors feign re-creation of this factual world. At the same time the audience, by participating as spectators, feigns believability in the mimic world the actors create. It is in this bond of pretense between the on-stage and off-stage spheres of reality—the literal and the mock-literal—that the appeal of drama is engendered. The Merchant of Venice then, like any effective drama, ostensibly undermines realism by professing to portray it....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
4095 words (11.7 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare, having spent most of his youth in England, was influenced by England’s beliefs. England was going through a Christian reformation that had caused friction between Christians and Jews. Jews and Christians did not see eye to eye on almost everything and especially on usury, the practice of lending money with interest. Boyce, a Shakespearean critique, sums up the negative attitude that Christians had on Jews in the 16th Century: “Sixteenth-Century Englishmen tended to attribute to Jews only two important characteristics, both negative: first, that Jews detested Christians and gave much energy to devi...   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Strong Essays
1878 words (5.4 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare is the story of a man who wishes to wed a woman, in order o do so he needs to borrow money from his good friend. The play is that of an anti-semitic one. The play is an anti-semitic one because the Jews are looked upon as evil and untrustworthy. For the entire play the Jew is never meant to look as a good person, and he is abused by almost everyone in the play. When the Jew does have his sympathetic lines, they were actually meant to be comedic....   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
678 words (1.9 pages)