Shylock - Victim or Villain?

Shylock Victim or Villain? By Pritesh Dave 10M The Merchant of Venice is a very racially controversial play. This is because the plays main story is about racism towards Jews. In the days of Shakespeare, many of the people were anti-Semitic. The Jews were just starting to migrate to England and the racism towards them was motivated by their success. The Christians believed that the Jews were "aliens" and they shouldn't be involved in the Christian was of life. Also, the Jews in Britain were extremely successful, some more than the Christians. They were allowed to lend money and charge interest, as it was not forbidden by the Jewish religion like it is for Christianity. During the 16th Century, many plays were written which involved Jews. The Jews played a "stock character". They were normally villains or a comic character. The Christians who would play the Jews in the play would dress up in traditional Jewish costume and would speak in an exaggerated accent. This would instantly indicate that this character was the villain or the comic character. The audience would boo and jeer at this character. At the end of his play this character would be made a fool out of and would lose most or everything important to him/her. For example, the Jew would die, the Jew would lose his daughter or wife, he would have his money and land taken or he would be forced to change religion. They

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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
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