PIECES OF IDEA ON THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Pieces of Idea on the Merchant of Venice
Key words: Shakespeare, Anti-Semitism, Shylock
The History of Jews in England and the Prejudice against Them
The Jews had been discriminated against since they entered into Britain because of religious bias. They are exploited and oppressed by aristocrats. And the Christian society saw them as a devil group. They were accused of "blood libel" without evidence. As a result of accumulated prejudice, all the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, about 300 years before Shakespeare was born. During this 300 years, the prejudice developed to a shocking degree. Many other plays based on the prejudice were performed, e.g. Marlows The Jew of Malta, and were welcomed by public.
The Image of Shylock
A He is a usurer, practices a dirty profession and hates a noble Christian who lend out money claiming no interest.
B. He is hesitant because of lack of trust to others.
C. He is hypocritical and cunning. He devices a trap to win over Antonio.
D. He is a joykiller. He doesn't like and cannot bear entertainment.
E. He is a miser, loves money even more than his life.
F. He is murderous, insists on killing Antonio for envy.
G. He is a small man intoxicated by success. He is sure he can win the case and so despises the dignity of Duke and the court.
The image of Shylock is in contrast to that of Christians. Christians hate usury, they act in alacrity, they are frank and honest, they enjoy themselves everytime, they take cavalier attitude toward money, they generously pardon Shylock's life before he asks for it. All in one word, Christians are full of virtue while Shylock is unpleasant in every respect.
Is the play a comedy or a tragedy?
We must remember Shakespeare and his audience lived in 16-17th century and in an anti-Semite atmosphere. (But we also must emphasize the...