The Merchant Of Venice Anti Christian Or Anti Semitic?

914 WordsJul 4, 20154 Pages
Is Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice anti-Christian or anti-Semitic? How important is religion in “The Merchant of Venice”? That depends on who you ask and is based on that person’s interpretation of the play. The Merchant of Venice is controversial between whether it is anti-Christian or anti-Semitic and with good reason. Religion has always been a source of controversy; in Shakespeare’s plays, they are no exception but especially so in the play The Merchant of Venice. In ancient times, people established themselves as doctors and tradesmen, Christians as well as Jews. Even though the Jews started to establish themselves in such primary roles, they could not get away from the abundant feeling that was flourishing through Europe of anti-Semitism. The Jews were exposed to malicious harassments, which led to their being evicted in 1290 by Edward I and were able to return in 1655, when Oliver Cromwell approved Jews to come back to London (Rogers, n.d.). Shakespeare wrote this play in 1597 in the middle of the banishment and reinstatement of the Jews. This was used as a timeline to show the history of what was going on at the time of the writing of the ‘Merchant of Venice’ King Edward I and Oliver Cromwell were split in their reasons for banishing and then reinstating the Jews, Edward I’s scapegoat, and Edward I’s motive was partly due to finances. He banned them from usury (money-lending at interest) in 1275. 1278 brought widespread arrests of Jewish men; many
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