• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present racial and religious tension in the "Merchant of Venice"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare present racial and religious tension in the "Merchant of Venice? The Merchant of Venice is set in a time of racial and religious strife. Venice was an important Mediterranean centre for goods from the Far East. It would have been a very exotic location for an Elizabethan audience; Shakespeare chose to set the play in Venice, because people in Elizabethan England would not have visited Venice and were more likely to believe things they were told about it. It could have also been set in Venice to reflect England's state of racial and religious tension, without being too obvious. The two central characters in the play are Shylock, a wealthy Jew; and Antonio a rich merchant. At the time the play was written, Christians were not allowed to charge interest on lending money, but Jews did. Shylock and Antonio are enemies by religion. Each of them hates what the other stands for. Racial and religious tension is subsequently reflected in the Merchant of Venice through Shylock and Antonio's relationship, which intensities when Antonio asks Shylock for a loan. ...read more.

Middle

Shylock is portrayed as having a hostile nature and continues the war against Christians through his desire for vengeance. Shylock believes his superior to Christianity. This is expressed clearly through his direct statement "I hate him for he is a Christian" this quote can be interpreted in many different ways to portray Shylock's hatred. Shylock also presents his religion as superior by saying his religion is "sacred" he uses strong adjectives to emphasise his passionate beliefs. Shylock's tone in his main speech can be understood to imply that he thinks that his religion is scorned and underrated. There is evidence in Shylock's speech that he is a victim of anti-Semitism, when he claims "You call me a misbeliever, cut-throat dog". This implies that Antonio believes that Judaism is a false religion, whilst "Cut-throat dog" compares Shylock to pirates and murderers. Shylock would make this speech to let the audience know that he hates Antonio for humiliating him by "spitting" on him and calling him names. ...read more.

Conclusion

"first there is the Neapolitan prince" and Portia describes him as a "colt" and she is "afeared" that "his mother played false with a smith" Portia is accusing his mother of being unfaithful with a blacksmith; and that the prince is their illegitimate son; i believe she uses this imagery because of the prince's obsession with houses. She also describes "falcon bridge, the young baron of England" as a "proper man's picture", but she also says "who can converse with a dumbshow?" this states that he is the perfect stereotype of a man, but how can she live or love someone who is so ignorant. Shakespeare presents both racial and religious tension in many different forms throughout the play but none stronger than Shylock and Antonio's relationship. The tension between them appears to be leading to the imminent death of Antonio, but ends with the typical "happily ever after" ending where the villain- Shylock is defeated, and Antonio- triumphs over evil. Some of the original audiences would believe that Shylock got what he deserved because of his treatment of Antonio, but others would disagree; saying that his punishment was excessive and Shylock was a product of his environment and treatment by Christians. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. A study of anti-Semitism in 'The Merchant of Venice' it's historical and cultural perspective ...

    Shakespeare is portrays them in similar lights. Shylock laughs at the Christians when it looks like he is winning. This creates a sense of nastiness in Shylock and the audience has sympathy for Antonio. When Shylock loses his case Gratiano, Bassanio and Antonio do the same to Shylock but the audience feel little sympathy for Shylock.

  2. English - Merchant of Vencice

    He then wishes Jessica dead. This is an example of Shakespeare developing an evil character who is determined to have everything his own way. Tubal then feels the need to cheer up Shylock, by informing him of yet another one of Antonio's ships wrecked.

  1. Friends, Enemies, Lovers, Gossip, Rumour and Money. How and in what ways are these ...

    This is an extremely abhorrent bond to agree to and depicts Shylock's hatred towards Antonio. Antonio does not perceive this in the view of the fact that he appears to be extremely confident that all will be well, refusing to consider any negative alternatives, for example, that the boats may sink.

  2. 'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a ...

    Shylock's lack of a wife poses a lot of questions, such as: did she runaway from him like his daughter? Or did she die? Also, because of Shylock's lack of a wife, are Jessica and Shylock quite close? However, his attitude around Jessica is tainted with this important family tie.

  1. Explore the ways Shakespeare presents Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    The burden of his race gives Shylock both a sense of righteous indignation and an overwhelming sense of superiority. Shylock is thrilled to hear that another of Antonio's ships is lost, making Antonio more vulnerable. "I thank God, I thank God.

  2. The Merchant of Venice has been described as a great commentary on the nature ...

    While it may be virtuous for Antonio to give all he has to his friend, it is clear to the audience that it is foolish for him to give to a friend who will gamble it away. In addition, the Christian's generosity and friendship is further undermined by the racism so apparent in their actions.

  1. The Merchant of Venice.

    we may collect from a few sentences the history of his life-his descent and origin, his thrift and domestic economy, his affection for his daughter, whom he loves next to his wealth, his courtship and his first present to Lear, his wife!

  2. Antonio is the merchant of Venice, he’s waiting for his boats to arrive home, ...

    Although Antonio is a merchant, all of his riches is tied up in trade, and has none to lend to Bassanio. Antonio has to borrow the money himself to lend to Bassanio which shows true friendship as he seals his fate.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work