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

MERCHANT OF VENICE-JEWS AND CHRISTIANS

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Samuel Cole 5 Campion Coursework: Shakespeare's Portrayal on Judaism and Christianity Represented in The Merchant of Venice Although Jesus Christ himself was born a Jew, there have been battles between Jews and Christians for 2000 years. This being due to the fact that Romans, who then ruled the area where they lived (Israel),tried to destroy the Jewish faith. To escape persecution, many Jews fled. In doing so, they became successful in trading and usury alike. However this success, led them to being greatly disliked, especially in Christian countries. They were not allowed to own land neither were they applicable for employment. The merchant of Venice is a play written by William Shakespeare in the late 16th century. The play is set in the capital city of Venice. At the time of Shakespeare's writing, Jews had been banished for 300 years. His audience's depiction of the Jews would have been based closely on humour and prejudice. Their knowledge of the Jews was therefore limited and heavily reliant on the play writer's stories. In this coursework, I intend to show how Shakespeare's view on Judaism and Christianity is portrayed in the different scenes that I will be exploring. In Act 1 Scene 1,the scene introduces the reader to Antonio, Bassanio and other Christian friends. It seems that Antonio is upset, for a reason unknown to the reader. Antonio: 'In sooth I know not why I am so sad' 'What stuff 'tis made of, wherof it is born, I am to learn...' ...read more.

Middle

We come to understand that Antonio is unable to repay the bond, and Shylock's evil plan can now take full form. Shakespeare does not allow Antonio to beat the bond, to show that Christian's are victims of defeat, and maybe to increase the reader's sympathy for the Christian. Shakespeare ambiguity is very evident here. Solanio even so calls Antonio 'the honest Antonio', and repeatedly calls him 'good' so that Antonio is displayed as 'true'. In contrast Shylocks character is darkened and is shown in a far more vindictive light. However Shylock's speech at first appears to contradict this: 'I am a Jew: hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passion, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer...' '..If you prick us do we not bleed, If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?' Again, we are shown Shakespeare's ambiguous attitude towards the roles of the Jew and Christians, as he contradicts the horrific portrayal the reader has on Shylock, when Shylock gives a powerful speech about the suffering he has faced at the hands of Christian because he is a Jew. We feel sympathy with Shylock because he has suffered plenty discrimination. Shakespeare uses plenty metaphorical innuendo, when we learn the only companionship ever to Shylock was his daughter Jessica. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shylock left shattered, agrees to the deal and asks for permission to leave court. At the end of this decisive scene, it is Antonio whom remains far from the joy of the 'triumphant win over Jew'. In conclusion Shakespeare's views are very ambiguous, because at many points in the play he seems to follow the stereotypical ideas that Christians at that period demonstrated e.g. Antonio's description of Shylock (Act.1 Sc.3 lines:94-98) Shakespeare uses the idea that Jews are evil. However there are times when these views are contradicted(Act1.Sc.3 lines:105-109), for Shakespeare certainly does evoke much pity from the towards Shylock's sufferings, and at some points he seems to shame the Christians mistreatment of Jews, but the constant stream of attack that we observe against the Jews dampen this idea, it could be better said that Shakespeare to some extent, defends the Jews or that he is open-minded, but much evidence in the play suggests that he is biased towards the Christians, who at the end have succeeded against Shylock's evil bond. These are perceived mostly through the characters Antonio and Shylock, Antonio the 'hero' and Shylock the 'villain'. The play ends with good prevailing evil, in all Christianity prevailing Judaism, with Christianity seen as the stronger and superior of the two and this being Shakespeare's perception. We do not know whether Shakespeare was simply following his audience with callous attitudes towards Jews. Shakespeare's heart indeed seemed split, between 'The pained, yet revengeful Jew' and 'The noble, yet chauvinistic Christian'. ...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. To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathize with Shylock in the ...

    Following this Shylock lists all of the basic abusive actions towards him, which have great effect on him. This would have evoked emotions in the contemporary audience as, despite them being viewed as an arrogant anti-semetic audience, they would have had a view from a Jew, and would have a glimpse of what their abuse would feel like.

  2. What are the main contrasts and comparisons between Christians and Jews in the Merchant ...

    great meaning in most of the Characters lives in the Venetian setting. Shakespeare set his play in Venice as it was a well known trading point and a place where many different cultures mixed. His Elizabethan audience would have seen it as exotic and different.

  1. How just is the outcome of the trial scene for Shylock in the Merchant ...

    This shows that perhaps Antonio demonstrates the quality of mercy. Alternatively, Antonio's request also means that Shylock will have to give away his wealth to his treacherous daughter who already ran away with most of his fortune. He would also be publicly humiliated and wounded by the fact that he

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

    The duke wants to know how a Jew can ask for mercy when he won't be remotely compassionate in relation to Antonio and the bond. At the moment we do feel slightly unhappy for Antonio because he didn't ever think about what his actions actually did to peoples' minds.

  1. to what extent can the Merchant of Venice be seen as a fairytale

    The first casket comes with the riddle 'who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire', and when opened the casket revealed a skull and an inscription. The inscription states that all that glitters is not gold and tells the Prince of Morocco that he should not just look at

  2. The Merchant of Venice - how does the use of language style and structure ...

    She uses cunning strategies to effectively confuse the characters' presence in the court. Shakespeare adds a bit of light humour to the tense atmosphere of the trial by the ring plot. Portia and Nerissa test their husbands' love for them.

  1. In 'The Merchant of Venice' in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is described as ...

    This would lead us to believe that Shylock is more a victim than a villain- he is merely exasperated at the years of abuse he has received. And there is much evidence of this, both from how Antonio addressed Shylock and from what Shylock says about how he has been treated.

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

    At the original time of performance the audiences would be Christian so would not have liked other religious groups which made it very easy to make Jews look bad. Other ways Shakespeare has presented Jews badly is by not referring to them by name.

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