Shylock and Anti-Semitism

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          In Elizabethan England, many people were anti-semeitic, these people were driven by hatred. In the middle ages, Jews were accused of exploiting Christians, spreading the plague and murdering babies. They were banned from England in 1290, and were not officially allowed back into the country until several decades after the Merchant o Venice had been written. Centuries later Jews were targeted again by an economically depressed Germany and Adolf Hitler aiming to exterminate the Jewish race forever. Fortunately  Hitler failed, but he did slaughter millions of innocent Jews. People of Jewish religion have been despised for centuries mainly by Christians as it was against their religion to to lend and extort money. Shylock was automatically hated as he was a sterotypical jew in appearance and profession.

          Shylock was a victim of Christian hatred channelled through abuse and violence. He was regularly called such names as “a cur” or a “cut throat dog”, this hatred turned physical when he was spat upon and pushed out of the way. He may exploit people in his profession, but even after the money has been payed back, Antonio admits he still would not be civil with Shylock, because he is still a money lending Jew. Jews are portrayed as a similar character to Satan, Antonio even calls Shylock a devil to his face. Shylock is very religious and a orthadox Jew, almost a religious fanatic when he quotes parts of the Old Testament relating to Jacob and his sheep. For a religious man, his stereotypical profession also made him a villain in many people’s eyes, but Jews were not allowed any other jobs.

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         His own daughter Jessica elopes with some of his savings and jewels. If this wasn’t vistimising enough she converts to a Christian. His servant Lancelot is also leaving him to serve under Bassanio, also a Christian, whom he hated with a passion due to the abuse he claims, he has received from them.

He is referred to as a devil, and according to his daughter, Jessica his house is “hell”. His daughter Jessica, hurts him emotionly again when he hears that she swapped a valuable family heirloom , a turquise ring for a monkey. Shylock takes ...

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