Timeless Elements in the Merchant of Venice

Timeless Elements in the Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice contains many themes and elements that could be considered timeless. The first major theme in the play is the Christian majority's prejudice against the Jewish minority. The second and possibly most important theme of the play is the romance and the loyalty tested in the play. The third issue or theme in the play is the everlasting greed, jealously and mercy (or lack thereof) In Merchant of Venice, the three timeless themes are prejudice, love, and greed, and I will be thoroughly exploring them in this essay.

The first theme, prejudice, is a very strong one within the play. The Merchant of Venice portrays a prejudiced message. This is first evident in Act I when Shylock openly says to himself, "I hate him because he is a Christian....May my people be cursed if I forgive him!" Throughout the whole play there is an intense battle between the Jews and the Christians. Antonio also shows a similar attitude when proves that he is unwilling to change his feelings toward Shylock by saying, "I'm likely to call you names again, spit on you again, and shun you again." They don't seem to realize that their prejudiced attitudes could get someone (Antonio) killed.

There are points in the play when Shylock can be seen as a "good guy" and others as a "bad guy". When he doesn't allow his daughter, Jessica to marry Lorenzo just because he's a Christian, that's when we start to think that Shylock isn't a very nice guy, although he was also the target of a lot of prejudice himself. Antonio didn't like him because he was a Jew, and he let Shylock know his feelings. However, two wrongs don't make a right, and just because Antonio hated Shylock and spit in his face, there's no reason why Shylock couldn't just show positive attitudes towards Antonio or just stay out of his path. However Shylock chose revenge, which is why he is viewed as a "bad guy".

The general finishing attitude towards prejudice is that it doesn't...

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