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Merchant Of Venice Stereotypes

Decent Essays
Anti-semitic is defined as having hostility or prejudice against Jews. The Merchant of Venice exhibits both of these themes. The Merchant of Venice, a play written by William Shakespeare in 1596 follows Antonio, a Christian merchant, and Shylock a Jewish banker. Their journey starts when Shylock and Antonio make a deal. Shylock loans Antonio three thousand ducats, in return, Antonio needs to pay Shylock back in three months or Shylock gets to cut off a pound of flesh from Antonio's body. Throughout this play, Jewish people are stereotyped as wanting to kill Christians and are treated very poorly because of their religious beliefs.

In the play, Jewish people are stereotyped as hating Christians and wanting to kill them. Shakespeare portrays
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They treated them as if they were inferior. For example, Jessica and Launcelot are arguing whether Jessica would go to heaven. She says to Launcelot, “I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian” (3.5.-). Jessica is saying that she will go to heaven because she converted to Christianity in order to marry her husband. Launcelot and Jessica’s argument shows that only Christians can go to heaven. Another example of this is when Antonio says to Shylock, “I am as like to call thee so again,/To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too” (1.3.456-457). Antonio is saying that he has treated Shylock poorly in the past, and he will do it again. Antonio does not like Shylock because he is Jewish. Shakespeare also reflects anti-semitic behavior through a character named Lancelot. Lancelot is a Christian who does not like working for Shylock. He says, “I should stay with the Jew my master, who, God bless/ the mark! is a kind of devil; and, to run away from the Jew, I should/ be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence! is the devil/ himself” (2.2.585-587). Lancelot is debating with himself on whether he should flee with Lorenzo and Jessica or stay and work for Shylock. Lancelot says that Shylock is the devil, therefore he leaves. Shakespeare is showing that even Christians who weren’t wealthy disliked jews. In conclusion, The Merchant of Venice shows how anti-semitic the Elizabethans were to those who had a different religion than them. Shakespeare shows this perspective through the characters of Antonio, Lancelot, and Portia. In contrast with this, Shakespeare also argues in support of the people the Elizabethans dislike. He shows this perspective through Shylock and Morocco and how they want to be treated with respect. This play is still important today because there are still people today who are
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