Racism in "The Merchant of Venice"
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Racism in "The Merchant of Venice"

Was Shakespeare Anti- Semitic?

Racism in "The Merchant of Venice"

When we talk about William Shakespeare it is almost inevitable to talk about his peculiar writing style and the social issues he focused his work on. For centuries Shakespeare’s work has been used as a reference to compare the many social values and issues that we face in our modern society. When reading his work, we are automatically captivated by his enormous ability to capture his audience attention with his dark style. Shakespeare made sure that in every play he wrote he transmitted the social injustices that were indeed occurring during his time period, which ultimately leads me to talk about one of his most famous plays The Merchant of Venice. The Merchant of Venice has been for years a topic of many debates and disputes. While many love the play and find it one of the most entertaining plays in his collection, others accuse the play of being racist and prejudice against the Jewish community.

In The Merchant of Venice, we are able to see a clear picture of dehumanization against the Jewish community in the way shylock’s character is treated and constantly humiliated. Shylock is the only character in the play who is known to be of Jewish ancestry. As readers we are immediately introduced to his character.Shylock is immediately given a manipulative, angry and mentally disturbed approach. The way the other predominant characters in the play define him creates a feeling of constant tension in the play. Shylock’s character is often abused by the protagonist Antonio who finds him to be inferior and unpleasant due to his Jewish background. In the play we are able to see the discrimination with which most of the characters treat shylock even in the moments of most need.Antonio in need of money recurs to shylock for financial support, and although he knows that his treatment towards Shylock has been nasty and unpleasant he remains to have a hostile approach.

This leads me to conclude that racism isin fact something that has been engrained in literature for centuries now, and it has influencedand promoted the portrayal and perceptions of many minority groups.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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