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 ...

Want to read the rest of this paper?
Join Essayworld today to view this entire essay
and over 50,000 other term papers

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 ...

Get instant access to over 50,000 essays.
Write better papers. Get better grades.

Already a member? Login

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,

Succeed in your coursework without stepping into a library.
Get access to a growing library of notes, book reports,
and research papers in 2 minutes or less.


The Merchant Of Venice: Hath Not A Jew Mercy?. (2004, June 6). Retrieved December 15, 2018, from
"The Merchant Of Venice: Hath Not A Jew Mercy?.", 6 Jun. 2004. Web. 15 Dec. 2018. <>
"The Merchant Of Venice: Hath Not A Jew Mercy?." June 6, 2004. Accessed December 15, 2018.
"The Merchant Of Venice: Hath Not A Jew Mercy?." June 6, 2004. Accessed December 15, 2018.
Join today and get instant access to this and 50,000+ other essays

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

Save | Report


Save and find your favorite essays easier

The Merchant Of Venice: Is It A...
The Role Of Prejudice In The Me...
The Merchant Of Venice
The Merchant Of Venice-portia
The Merchant Of Venice - Anti-
The Merchant Of Venice: Shylock...
The Merchant Of Venice: Shylock...
The Merchant Of Venice
The Merchant Of Venice Essay
The Merchant of Venice as a Rom...
Copyright | Cancel | Contact Us

Copyright © 2018 Essayworld. All rights reserved