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AntiSemitism and The Merchant Of Venice

Anti-Semitism and The Merchant Of Venice The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, depicts the strong anti-Semitic views of the Elizabethan era, through Shakespeare's choice of plot, characters personalities, and even his words. His play makes the attitudes, and actions of Jews seemforeign to those of a good Christian. These stereotypes are most evident in the character,Shylock, a greedy Jewish money lender. Shylock's antagonistic relationship with Antonio,a generous Christian merchant, only exaggerates these already obvious anti-Jewishattitudes and perceptions that would have infiltrated Elizabethan life. When the play begins, we find Antonio in a horrible state of depression. Quickly,Antonio's good friend, Bassanio, appears to ask if he may borrow 3,000 ducats so that hemay ask the wealthy Portia to marry him. This marriage would also ensure that Bassaniocould repay all of the interest free debts he owes to Antonio. Antonio agrees, but has toborrow the money from Shylock. Antonio's intention is to pay Shylock back after hisships come back to port. However, Antonio and Shylock already have a long history ofhatred and insults. Shylock's hatred for Antonio is even stronger, because Antonio refusesto collect interest on his many loans. Shylock tricks Antonio into agreeing to giveShylock a pound of his flesh if the loan is not paid off in three months. During this time, Shylock's daughter, Jessica, elopes with Antonio's friend,Lorenzo, and converts to Christianity, creating even more hatred of Antonio by Shylock.Bassanio travels to Portia and follows the wedding plans that were her father's will. Hecorrectly selects from a gold, silver and lead casket to find her picture and win her hand inmarriage. Their joy is brief, however. Bassanio receives a letter explaining that Antonio'sships were lost at sea and of Shylock's determination to get his pound of flesh inaccordance with the loan's terms. Bassanio and Portia wed, as do his fri...

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