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Race and religion in Act 1 Scene III in "the merchant of venice"

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Introduction

Explore Shakespeare's presentation of race and religion in Act 1 Scene 3 of 'The Merchant of Venice'. There are many ways in which Shakespeare presents his views on race and religion and the way he portrays the characters that have very different religious beliefs. The effect that 'The Merchant of Venice' might have on the audiences is changing the way people think about race and religion. In this play, the main religions are Christianity and Judaism. At the time of Shakespeare, anti-Semitism was a big issue. Jews had faced and suffered from irrational hatred, persecution and discrimination, and yet they still had to live and even to some extent, to blend and fit in a Christian community in order to do business and earn a living. This play is set exactly in this situation, mirroring the reality. Antonio, a Christian and Shylock, a Jew who lives in a society full of his opponents, full of people who hate his 'tribe'. Shakespeare uses the character of Shylock to give us negative impression of the Jews. This gives us an idea of how much people used to dislike the Jews at the time of his writing. ...read more.

Middle

However, towards the end of the scene, it was the vice versa. Shakespeare plays a pun on 'gentle', which is similar to gentile, which has a meaning of a person who is not a Jew. This has the imputation that Antonio is saying Shylock is a Jew, but he is not behaving like one, revealing Shakespeare's personal prejudice on the Jews. Shylock laughs a lot and uses humour and jokes to loosen up the tense conversation between himself, Bassanio and Antonio. This suggests he is on the upper hand, or alternatively he might want to sound friendly if he really was to set a trap for Antonio as retaliation. Inch Antonio that he is proud of his own nation.. andhis nation is kind.. he would lend him money. Bt Christian wont In the language aspect of the play, Shakespeare applies several language devices in the play. In my opinion the device he used that struck the audience the most was the imagery. For instance, the metaphor 'catch him once upon the hip' meaning if Shylock can get Antonio at a disadvantage, at a weak time. This also illustrates his initial hatred and grudge right from the beginning for Antonio. ...read more.

Conclusion

His writing feels like he is beyond and free of the serious prejudice that was going on at his time. He did not stereotype the characters in the play. The play is heightened or intense, mention convention There is a soliloquy... Shylock was emotional, stamping and was being really loud, and we accept that the others cannot hear his actions even though in reality, this would not happen and are not real. Shakespeare's play has a wide complexity that it not only appeals to the contemporaries in the Elizabethan times, it also appeals to us, even though the century has changed and there is a huge transformation of the way we think about religions and discrimination. One big contrast between Christianity and Judaism in Act 1 Scene 3 is ways of earnings. Christians had always been taught that taking interest was morally wrong, however this was the only way that Jews could earn money and do business. In Shylock's speech he mentioned Antonio's way of earning is 'squandered' meaning waste. This is the only word that gives away Shylock real feeling, the feeling that he thinks Antonio's way of making money is not secure, risky and wasteful. ...read more.

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