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

Many Theatrical Producers are Uncomfortable about Staging "The Merchant of Venice" because of suggestions that it Portrays Jews Unfairly, How would You Defend the play Against Anti-Semitism?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Many Theatrical Producers are Uncomfortable about Staging "The Merchant of Venice" because of suggestions that it Portrays Jews Unfairly, How would You Defend the play Against Anti-Semitism? Jews first began to arrive in England in the Middle Ages to escape persecution from the Normans in France. They were allowed to remain in England by Henry I in return for a large percentage of their profits from either trade or money lending. Since the amount of money they owed the king was so high they found that in order to gain a healthy profit themselves, very high interest rates needed to be charged on the money lent out. However Jews were not welcomed by the Christian population as they did not agree with their religion or their professions. Also Christians believed that that it was the Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. However in 1254 while under the reign of King Edward I, Jews who refused to convert or conform to Christianity were ordered out of England. ...read more.

Middle

lock the doors and not to look out on the street at the Christians, he even tells her not to hear the party going on outside. The next example is from when Shylock implies that his daughter is not as important to him as his ducats and precious stones. He runs through the streets shouting, "I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear! would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin!" Here Shylock is claiming how he would rather have his daughter dead as long as he could get his jewels and money back, this portrays Shylock in an even worse light than he is already viewed in. Although there is evidence of anti-Semitism depicted in "The Merchant of Venice", if we look more closely at the text we can see that Shylock isn't entirely the antagonist that he is made out to be. Firstly the hatred Shylock has for Antonio is not one sided; Antonio loathes Shylock just as much but not for the same reasons. ...read more.

Conclusion

"If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge." In the court scene, there is no denying that Shylock meant to take the life of Antonio while collecting the forfeit. Nevertheless he was very angry, he had lost everything including his daughter and he needed something or someone to take out all his frustrations out on and when the opportunity arrived he grabbed it with two hands. At Shylock's last appearance in the play he has lost everything dear to him, including his religion. In conclusion I think that although outwardly the play seems to display anti-Semitic views, Shakespeare tries to make Shylock human to his audience, not just an evil Jew who gets what was always coming to him and therefore challenges anti-Semitic views that were current to when the play was written. In doing so he wrote a play which can help us shield against prejudices in present day society. Jennifer Bullous 10s ...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. One of the most constantly asked questions about The Merchant of Venice is - ...

    will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." I would argue, despite the anti Semitic content of some of the scenes in this play, that the play is not solely anti Semitic or that Shakespeare is so.

  2. Is the Merchant of Venice anti-Christian or anti-Semitic?

    "I'll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak; I'll have my bond, and therefore speak no more." Shylock is a fiend armed with scales and knife and his bloodthirsty campaign against Antonio is morally indefensible. Then again, we should also consider the situation Shylock is living in.

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

    The main themes of 'The Jew of Malta' are racial tensions, religious conflict and political unrest which are very similar to the themes of 'The Merchant of Venice'. Barabas is a stereotypical Jew of the time because he is hated, violent and cruel.

  2. The Merchant of Venice portrays the triumph of human relationships over merchant capitalism. Discuss.

    Shylock represents possessiveness whilst Antonio, Portia and Bassanio represent generosity. Shylock's materialism and greed perverts and distorts his character - he is more interested in his ducats than his daughter and regards the accumulation of money as the most important thing in life.

  1. Shylock and Anti-Semitism

    Even in court, he is treated with no respect, as the 'impartial' duke even regards him as "the Jew", and "the inhuman wretch". The dukes behaviour isn't very 'Christian like'. Shylock calls these people hypocritical , not for the name calling, because they ask Shylock to show mercy and spare the life of Antonio.

  2. Anti-Jewish or Anti Semitic or Neither - The Merchant of Venice

    (emphasis added). William Hazlitt agrees by writing, "Shylock is a good hater; 'a man no less sinned against than sinning.' [...] with the proud spirit hid beneath his "Jewish gaberdine" by one lawful act of 'lawful' revenge [...]" (Hazlitt 195)

  1. Imagine you are the theatrical director of a production of

    Speeches like, "Three thousand ducats for three months, and Antonio bound" Should be said in a mocking tone, showing that Shylock is enjoying being in control for once, where people who think themselves better than him need his help. The speech starting, "yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into."

  2. Many theatrical producers are uncomfortable about staging "The Merchant of Venice", because of suggestions ...

    This was because his job was money lending. But it was illegal for Jews to live in England, so he could not be employed and this was the only way in which he could make a living. Shakespeare also portrays him as "keeping himself to himself", as if he was self-centred and did not care about anyone else but himself.

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