Essay on Discrimination in The Merchant of Venice

1400 Words 6 Pages
Discrimination is a resounding theme in The Merchant of Venice (Meyers). All of the characters are affected by inequality. This inequity is evidenced clearly in Shylock, the Jewish usurer. He is treated with scorn and derision by all the characters. Shylock’s misfortunes stem not from poor attributes or even a poor background; it stems from the fact he is Jewish, and what is more, he is impenitent of that distinction. If he had been more daunted by Christian influence, he might have been forgiven, as Jessica is subjectively exonerated. He is not contrite and it is believed that his appalling birth cannot be absolved (Bonnell).
All of the characters are defined through Shylock. Launcelot Gobbo, Shylock’s servant, treats his father
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As it is, all she can do to maintain her father’s estate is to follow the decrees of the lottery to the letter. If she refuses to follow all of the instructions of the lottery, she loses her inheritance. Portia is no fool; she comprehends the importance of financial security, a quality that is woefully wanting in her male counterparts.
The cycle of hatred and animosity are evident in The Merchant of Venice most clearly through Jessica’s deplorable treachery of Shylock (Blanchard). The theft of his money and jewels was considered by the Christians a credit to her integrity rather than the consummate maliciousness it truly is. She is absolved from any culpability for her betrayal of Shylock; she is praised for her ability to deceive and defraud her father in a culture that sanctioned paternal piety (Picker). She marries the Christian Lorenzo in hopes of improved egalitarianism; she soon discovers that this will not be the case. Her profound guilt and strict upbringing as a Jewish female are revealed in the conversation between herself and Lorenzo: Jessica: I am never merry when I hear sweet music. Lorenzo: The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is moved with concord to sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils The motions of his spirit are as dull as night, And his affections are as dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted.
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