Hath Not A Jew Mercy? Essay

1321 words - 5 pages

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 shortcoming.Our first glimpse of Shylock's character comes in Act I, scene 3, where Shylock reveals to the audience why he hates Antonio. The first reason he gives of why he hates Antonio is because he is a Christian. (I. iii. 43) This to the sixteenth century audience would be unreasonable, and this would evoke a sort of villainy towards Shylock. But a few moments later, the audience witnesses Shylock's speech about Antonio's abuses towards Shylock. (I. iii. 107-130) This speech does well in invoking the 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 daughter!Of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter!And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones,Stolen by my daughter! Justice! find the girl;She hat the stones upon her, and the ducats.'" (II. viii. 12-22)One can't help wondering if the message is only as trustworthy as the messenger, for as we know, Salarino and Salanio have expressed their hatred towards Shylock. However, the sixteenth century audience wouldn't have any reason not to believe these two men, because they have given no reason not to be to their perspective. In this re-count of events we notice that Shylock cries "O my ducats! O my daughter!" many times, which suggests that Shylock sees Jessica as just another one of her material goods, as the ducats. The audience would not respect this at all, after all, one's daughter should be much more...

Find Another Essay On Hath Not a Jew Mercy?

Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

988 words - 4 pages disgrace'd me, and hinder'd me half a Million, laugh'd at my Losses, mock'd my Gains, scorned my Nation, thwarted my Bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine Enemies. And what's his Reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew Eyes? Hath not a Jew Hands, Organs, Dimensions, Senses, Affections, Passions? Fed with the same Food, hurt with the same Weapons, subject to the same Diseases, healed by the same Means, warmed

Shylock; a Villain or a Victim?

1036 words - 5 pages Shylock because he is Jewish. The Duke’s plea for mercy from Shylock during court also has hints of racism, such as line 36 in Act 4, Scene 1 “We all expect a gentle answer, Jew”. By his use of the word “gentle”, he literally means that they all expect a nice answer from Shylock. However, the word “gentle” simulates the word “gentile”, which means “not Jewish” or “a person who is not Jewish”, which means that he is also telling Shylock not to be Jewish

Shylock : a Villain in appearance, a Victim at heart

2070 words - 8 pages Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"(Shakespeare: III,I,53-61

Merchant of Venice

1342 words - 5 pages God's grace and mercy. The laws and rules of the Old Testament insisted on strict justice, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23, 24; also see: Leviticus 24:19, 20; and Deuteronomy 19:21) while the New Testament calls for mercy, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7) said Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. He later added “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a

Merchant of Venice

1089 words - 5 pages Portia and Shylock. He does not care about “salvation” or “pray[ing] for mercy”, which Portia tries to convince him to. Portia’s preaching of Christianity to the Jew, makes her look good to the court but it has no effect on Shylock. It was smart of Portia to start her time in the courtroom with religious propaganda because it made her look like a intelligent man; as in all intelligent well respected men where Christian’s and new the importance of

Is The Merchant of Venice an Anti-Semitic Play?

1642 words - 7 pages by saying:   "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not

Shakespeare, a Gifted Writer or a Anti-Semitic Villain?

1455 words - 6 pages . Shylock has just suffered the worst experience of his life so far. His only daughter, Jessica, has run off with a Christian and stole thousands of ducats when she left. No justice shall be carried out concerning this because he is a Jew. Shylock responds, almost breaking out of character by saying:"I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same

William Shakespeare's Shylock: Villain or Victim

3449 words - 14 pages . Clearly she had done all this out of spite, and hatred of her own father. "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" Shylock cries out to be recognised as an individual. He has been mocked and reviled all of his life because of his religion. He

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

2846 words - 11 pages argues that Shakespeare was trying to get the audience to be sympathetic toward Jews and that he was trying to get Christians to understand that Jews are similar to them. He backs this up with a quote from the play where Shylock is comparing his nationality to Christians: I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same

Religion in The Merchant of Venice

1949 words - 8 pages the New Testament. The New Testament which embodies grace, mercy, and forgiveness In Act Four, Scene 1, the Duke says, “We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.” (Bevington, pg. 102) This passage from the Duke pleas Shylock for a “gentle” answer. The Duke asking for a “gentle” answer was not a way to dismiss Shylock’s bond, but it was merely asking Shylock to bring forth his mercy and forgiveness as a Christian would. Thus doing so will spare Antonio’s

The Elizabethan Theater

1545 words - 7 pages . Current readers are more likely to agree with Shylock’s speech: I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and

Similar Essays

Hath Not A Jew Eyes? The Identity Of Shylock And Purpose Of Anti Semitism In The Merchant Of Venice

2357 words - 10 pages is clear because “Shylock–‘the Jew,’ as he is called by everyone in the play–is compared with a dog, a cur, and a demon, and is referred to as ‘the very devil incarnation” (Anti-Semitism and The Merchant of Venice 4). The most notable adversary of Shylock is clearly Antonio, who often expresses a severe hatred for the Jewish usurer. In response to Antonio’s ceaseless torment, Shylock pleads: …I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew

The Title Is Antisemitism And The Dreyfus Affair. It Answers The Question Of Whether Or Not Cpt. Dreyfus Would Have Been Arrested If He Was Not A Jew. The Essay States That He Would Not Have Been

2269 words - 9 pages increase in nationalism, an unprecedented love of, and interest in, the Army, and an anti-Semitic revival. If Dreyfus had not been a Jew in the army, the Affair would have been no more than a minor controversy, as many cases after him were. He also might not have been convicted. Anti-Semitism along with chance was the main reason Dreyfus was arrested.Alfred Dreyfus was born in Mulhouse, on October 9, 1859 to a family of Alsatian Jews. As a result of the

The Merchant Of Venice Essay

1139 words - 5 pages , heated mine enemies—and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if

Determining Whether There Is A Presence Of Anti Semitism In William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1363 words - 5 pages , laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies - and what's his reason? I am a Jew," he exclaims. Then comes the famous speech. "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions…." However from this alone we cannot decide if Shakespeare's play is anti Semitic. In Shakespeare's day, anti-Semitism was