William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice

Good Essays

Over four hundred years after The Merchant of Venice was first written, the debate rages on about Shakespeare s intentions regarding the character of Shylock, whether the play is anti-Semitic or a criticism of the Christian anti-Semitism of Shakespeare s time, and even whether the play should be taught in schools.

Anti-Semitism, often called  the longest hatred,  is both an age-old problem and a current challenge. For centuries Jews have been accused of treacherous acts, including the murder of Jesus, poisoning wells, the ritual murder of Christian children, the Bubonic plague and controlling the media and the banks. Many of these falsities have roots in historical circumstances, and longstanding fear and misunderstanding. Tragically, these lies continue to be launched against Jews. Recently, Jews have been blamed for everything from the attacks on September 11 and the Iraq War to the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia. The continual demonizing and scapegoating of the Jew as  other  highlights the need to analyze and discuss the depiction of Jews in literature. Without an examination of both historic and contemporary anti-Semitism, students may be left with stereotypical and negative conceptions of Jews and Judaism.

Certainly one of the most characteristic and troubling aspects of The Merchant of Venice is that the depiction of Shylock reinforces the stereotype of Jews as money- hungry and greedy. This stereotype has been around for centuries, and continues to be

Get Access
Get Access