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Examples Of Anti-Semitism In The Merchant Of Venice

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A play that is filled with Jewish slurs, anti-Semitic remarks, and no justice for the main Jewish character is, in theory, seen as despicable. After the Holocaust, all Jewish slurs and stereotypes, like calling someone “dog Jew” or thinking Jews only care about money, have been exiled from moral society. This even applies to pieces of art that were produced pre-Holocaust. However, William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is not only read, but taught in schools across the nation. The Merchant of Venice provides the tale of Bassanio and Antonio who take out a loan from the Jewish merchant Shylock. Throughout the play’s insanity, each and every one of the non-Jewish characters waste no time to harass Shylock about his religious…show more content…
Since Shylock is Jewish, his vengeance is seen as heinous, while Antonio’s would be considered heroic since he’s a Christian character. His religion creates a preconception in people’s mind that he is evil, so any wrong move portrays him as the villain. Also, during the courtroom scene, all of the Christians have complete faith Antonio won’t have to lose a pound from his body because Shylock will take the six thousand ducats instead. However, when Bassanio offers Shylock the money, Shylock turns his nose to the offer. He remarks, “If every ducat in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them. I would have my bond” (Shakespeare, 4.1.86-88). Shylock’s surprising answer reveals that Jewish people go against even their strongest stereotypes. Jewish people are known to desire nothing but money. However, Shylock feels so hurt from all of Antonio’s past harassment, he craves revenge and nothing more. Stereotypes force people to believe people in certain groups will follow the mold their society has created them and will act more like caricatures than people. Shylock’s need for revenge reminds us Jewish people have the same emotions as everyone else. The heartfelt passages from Shylock demonstrate anti-Semitism is unfair to the Jewish people’s image. Additionally, the anti-Semitic comments by the Christian characters reveal the hypocrisy of their
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