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Racial and Cultural Stereotyping and Bigotry in The Merchant of Venice

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Introduction

Word Count: 698 Racial and Cultural Stereotyping and Bigotry in The Merchant of Venice In The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare has characters follow certain common stereotypes of certain religions and cultures during the Elizabethan Age. This is done in order to establish a quick understand about characters and their relationship with other characters. The stereotypes of characters and their bigotries become more apparent and amplified as the story progresses. Shakespeare has characters either use allusions to reinforce their bigotries or use metaphors to increase the effect of their prejudices. Shakespeare has his characters follow stereotypes of the time in order to fully develop the theme of stereotyping and bigotry. At the time, only Jews were allowed to lend money with interest. ...read more.

Middle

Shylock cries, "I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor..." (Merchant of Venice 3.1. 113-114). It is shown that Shylock has loved another woman as his equal and is more than a simple stereotype. This is all done to have characters follow stereotypes while keeping a sense of reality. Shakespeare develops the theme of religious bigotry with the introduction of Shylock and the bond plot. The ways Shylock and Antonio stereotype each other's religion and beliefs unfolds instantly once the two of them meet. Shylock bears a both personal and religious grudge on Antonio shown in Shylock's soliloquy "I hate him for he is a Christian..." (Merchant of Venice 1.3. 38-48). Shylock dislikes Christians as a whole, and Antonio for mistreating him. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Merchant of Venice 4.1. 294-295). This shows Shylock views Jewish thieves better people than Christians. The Christian characters use mainly metaphors to show their distaste for the Jews. During the court scene, Gratiano says "Thy currish spirit Govern'd a wolf, who, hang'd for human slaughter" (Merchant of Venice 4.1. 133-134). This says two different things about Shylock: Gratiano sees Shylock as a nothing more than a wolf, hungry for blood, and that this trial is like judging an animal in court. Shylock is often referred to as a wolf or dog to further the stereotype that Jews are murderers. Shylock uses his allusions to validate his distaste for Christianity, while the Christian characters use metaphors to debase Shylock. Shakespeare made some characters follow a stereotype, while having the rest of the characters not follow a common stereotype. This allows the story to explore different stereotypes, while avoiding a stereotypical play. ...read more.

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