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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?

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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.

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