The Role Of Prejudice In The Merchant Of Venice



This paper discusses the subject of prejudice in the William Shakespeare
play, The Merchant of Venice.
I. Introduction

William Shakespeare's satirical comedy, The Merchant of Venice, believed
to have been written in 1596 was an examination of hatred and greed.The premise
deals with the antagonistic relationship between Shylock, a Jewish money-lender
and Antonio, the Christian merchant, who is as generous as Shylock is greedy,
particularly with his friend, Bassanio.The two have cemented a history of
personal insults, and Shylock's loathing of Antonio intensifies when Antonio
refuses to collect interest on loans.Bassanio wishes to borrow 3,000 ducats from
Antonio so that he may ...

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will, Bassanio is asked to
choose from three caskets -- one gold, one silver and one lead.Bassanio
correctly selects the lead casket that contains Portia's picture.The couple's
joy is short-lived, however, when Bassanio receives a letter from Antonio,
informing him of the loss of his ships and of Shylock's determination to carry
out the terms of the loan.Bassanio and Portia marry, as do his friend, Gratiano
and Portia's maid, Nerissa.
The men return to Venice, but are unable to assist Antonio in court.In
desperation, Portia disguises herself as a lawyer and arrives in Venice with her
clerk (Nerissa) to argue the case.She reminds Shylock that he can only collect
the flesh that the agreement calls for, and that if any blood is shed, his
property will be confiscated.At this point, Shylock agrees to accept the money
instead of the flesh, but the court punishes him for his greed by forcing him to
become a Christian and turn over half of his property to his estranged ...

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Shylock persuasively
argues, "You have among you many a purchased slave, which (like your asses and
your dogs and mules).You us in abject and in slavish parts, because you bought
them, shall I say to you, let them be free, marry them to your heirs...you will
answer, `The slaves are ours,' -- so do I answer you:The pound of flesh (which I
demand of him) is dearly bought, 'tis mine and I will have it" (IV.i.90-100).
Shakespeare's depiction of the Venetians is paradoxical.They are, too, a
capitalist people and readily accept his money, however, shun him
personally.Like American society, 16th century Venice sought to solidify their
commercial reputation through integration, but at ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 11/4/2004 03:04:37 AM
Category: Arts
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2334
Pages: 9

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