The Merchant Of Venice: Hath Not A Jew Mercy?


?
Many of William Shakespeare's plays have sparked controversy. Probably
the one that has sparked the most controversy is The Merchant of Venice, which
many intellectuals have dubbed an anti-Semitic play. The character that this
discussion centers around is Shylock, the rich moneylender Jew. The problem
with most of these anti-Semitic arguments is that they lack the perspective of
the sixteenth century audience. Throughout Shakespeare's The Merchant of
Venice (M of V), the audience's perception of Shylock moves between utter hatred
and varying amounts of pity. In contrast to today's audience, the original
sixteenth century audience saw Shylock's religion as his biggest ...

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audience's pity, however little it might
be in the sixteenth century. But again at the end, Shylock offers that Antonio
give up a pound of flesh as penalty of forfeiture of the bond, which Antonio
sees as a joke, but which Shylock fully intends to collect. (I. iii. 144-78)
This action negates any pity which Shylock would have one from the audience just
a few moments before. Shakespeare, in this scene, uses Shylock's dialogue and
soliloquies to push loyalties of the audience back and forth in a result of a
negative view of Shylock.
In Act II, scene 8, Salarino and Salanio describe to the audience
Shylock's reaction when he finds out that his daughter, Jessica, has run away to
marry a Christian. Says Salanio:

I never heard a passion so confused,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
Justice! the law! my ducats, and my ...

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he forfeit,
thou wilt not take his flesh:
what's that good for?
Shylock. To bait fish withal: if it will
feed nothing else, it will feed
my revenge. He hath disgraced me,
and hindered me half a million;
laughed at my losses, mocked at
my gains, scorned my nation,
thwarted my bargains, cooled my
friends, heated mine enemies;
and what is his reason? I am
a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not
a Jew hands, organs, dimensions,
...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 6/6/2004 09:09:55 PM
Category: Arts
Type: Free Paper
Words: 1345
Pages: 5

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