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Shakespeares Portrayal of Shylock is Stereotypical and Anti-Semitic. Discuss.

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Shakespeare's Portrayal of Shylock is Stereotypical and Anti-Semitic. Discuss 'The Merchant of Venice' was written by William Shakespeare in 1598 and was set around the same time in the city of Venice. Shakespeare makes a number of references to the fact that Shylock is a Jew so the reader is clear about his religious status. There is even mention of Shylock on the front page of the original play, "with the extreme cruelty of Shylock the Jew." This suggests that Shylock being a Jew is a key aspect to the play. Throughout the play Shakespeare exaggerates some of Shylock's characteristics to reinforce the Jewish aspect of his role. Given the era that the play was written in, it is unlikely that Shakespeare was trying to portray Shylock in an anti-Semitic way. If Shakespeare was being anti-Semitic then he wouldn't have included Shylock's famous speech about the way Jews are treated. "He hath disgraced me, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains...and for what reason? ...read more.


Shakespeare might have made Shylock a laughable character on purpose so that they feel even more challenged by Shylock's "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech. In modern times people are under a lot more pressure to be politically correct so are a lot less likely to be offensive to Jews. Even so, Shakespeare still gets off so lightly for stereotyping Shylock because he is Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time. At the beginning of the play Shylock seems to have everything, but by the end of the play he is left with nothing. When his daughter Jessica takes all his money and runs off with a Christian, Shylock's life seems to be ruined. Shakespeare cleverly uses this to show how much of a monster Shylock is when he says that he wishes his daughter were dead and that he is more interested in his money than his own daughter. His anger could be understandable though, as his daughter did humiliate and betray him, as well as breaking a religious vow. ...read more.


He then eagerly takes up Bassanio's offer to work for him. Shakespeare makes all these characters turn against Shylock to show how universally hated Jews are in society. Even though this may seem unfair, Shylock probably deserves most of this treatment as he is always being nasty to other people like Antonio. He may have good reason for his nastiness, but he seems to take things a bit too far. Overall I think that Shakespeare did portray Shylock in a stereotypical way but he wasn't being anti-Semitic. He only portrayed Shylock as the villain because he knew it would appeal to the Christian masses. Making the villain a Jew and the 'hero' a Christian brought a religious feud into the story and made it more interesting. Shylock's character is all 'bad' as Shakespeare does seem to humanise Shylock; making him vulnerable. Shakespeare also uses the prejudice in the play so that we can learn from it and know how wrong it is to be prejudiced. Shakespeare easily got away with making Shylock a stereotypical Jew because he is Shakespeare. ?? ?? ?? ?? Thomas Aird ...read more.

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