Essay about Love and Hate Depicted in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

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Love and Hate Depicted in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is a play both about love and hate. Shakespeare illustrates the theme of hate most prominently through the prejudices of both Christians and Jews and their behaviour towards one another. The theme of love is shown amongst the Christians, in the love of friendship and marital love. The themes are emphasised in the settings of the play, Belmont symbolising love and Venice symbolising hate. As well as this the immorality of various characters can be seen in their motives for love and hate.

The entire play is centred around racial prejudices between Christians and Jews and their hate for one another. In The Merchant of Venice Shylock, the Jew, is
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He shows no remorse or regret for any past wrongs he has done to Shylock or any other Jew:

"I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on the again, to spurn thee too."
(Antonio- 1,3,126-7)

Antonio is the symbol of racism in society and he openly exhibits it. He is not phased in the least after Shylock's downfall. Shakespeare displays the repugnant effects of hatefulness in The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare demonstrates love in The Merchant of Venice amongst the Christians. He also distinguishes between the love of friendship and marital love. In Act 4, Shakespeare implies that Bassanio and Gratiano's love for their friend Antonio is greater than that for their wives. Both men broke vows that they had with their wives because of Antonio:

"Antonio, I am married to a wife which is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife, and all the world, are not with me esteem'd above thy life: I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all, here to this devil, to deliver you."
(Bassanio- 4,1,280-5)

True love seems to be demonstrated in Jessica and Lorenzo's relationship. Jessica is willing to give up her previous life, even if she wasn't altogether happy, to marry Lorenzo:

"I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian."
(Jessica- 3,5,18-9)

The Merchant of Venice is set in Italy in Venice and Belmont, representing the two worlds of the play. Shakespeare uses these two settings to emphasise the themes of