Characteristics Of Antonio In The Merchant Of Venice

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Firstly, let take a look at the characteristics of Antonio in comparison to the description of an anti-Semite by Sartre. In “The Merchant of Venice”, Antonio is depicted as a man loved by everyone except the Jews through Bassanio’s description of him: “The dearest friend to me,… than any that draws breath in Italy.” in act 3 scene 2 and Shylock’s soliloquy: “I hate him for he is a Christian,… cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!” in act 1 scene 3 (Shakespeare). This resembles the image of a man that Sartre describes as a good citizen who performs well in his society role as a father and a husband. However, Sartre points out that even when such a man is loved by society for his hospitality toward people of different races, he can still appear as an anti-Semite (Sartre). In other words, a person’s benevolence in public cannot be used to define whether he or she is an anti-Semite or not. For instance, Antonio is a good man who risks his life to help Bassanio and even lends money without interest to other people in Venice. Nevertheless, he refuses to stop calling Shylock a dog, harassing him, and destroying his business in saying, “I am as like to call thee so again, to spet on thee again, to spurn thee, too.” in act 1 scene 3 (Shakespeare). By creating an image of a man who refuses to change and treat the Jews equally, Shakespeare put into his play the true description of the society around him at the time, which is an impenetrable big boulder. In fact, this image is also how
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