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Hatred And Revenge Essay

1328 words - 6 pages

“And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” (3,1,59). In The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Antonio and Shylock hate each other. They are both given an opportunity to exact revenge, but by showing mercy, Antonio proves himself to be a man of higher morals. Through the contrasting fates of Shylock and Antonio, Shakespeare tells the audience that hatred and the relentless pursuit of revenge will lead to one’s defeat.
The different beliefs that they have cause Shylock and Antonio to hate each other. Intense hatred is often a result of religious conflict and long standing disputes. Shylock is Jewish while Antonio is Christian, leading to different religious and societal ...view middle of the document...

Shylock’s hatred of Antonio is demonstrated through the steps that he takes to endanger Antonio’s life.
As a Christian, Antonio hates Shylock for his religious belief. He disrespects members of the Jewish religion, and especially Shylock. He calls him a heretic and a murderous dog, an animal thought unclean by Jews. Antonio even spits on Shylock’s traditional Jewish gaberdine. This religious persecution and unwillingness to accept their differences leads Antonio to misunderstand Shylock’s actions. Because Antonio is a devout Christian, he is morally against the practice of lending money for interest. Moneylending, however, is one of the few lucrative occupations open to Shylock. Because he is Jewish, Venetian law considers him to be a foreigner and bars him from various occupations. Despite being aware of Shylock’s situation, Antonio attempts to limit Shylock’s business. He competes with Shylock by lending money-interest free, reducing Shylock’s business. This course of action reveals that Antonio wants to ruin Shylock’s livelihood. To help achieve this goal, Antonio publicly scolds Shylock and his usances. Although Antonio is aware of the damage that this abuse does to Shylock’s reputation, he fails to repent for his actions. He insults Shylock even when he is asking him for a loan. Antonio compares Shylock to the devil and tells him that, whether or not he gets the loan, he will continue to abuse him. Antonio’s abusive treatment of Shylock reveals his natural capability of animosity. The hatred that Shylock and Antonio have leads them to spite each other.
Despite their mutual hatred, Shylock and Antonio respond differently to the opportunity of revenge. The desire for revenge narrows one’s vision, blinding them from the world around them. When Antonio is unable to repay the loan on time, Shylock brings him before the Venetian court. He demands the pound of flesh as forfeiture, and in doing so he further damages his reputation and shows society that he is a cold, bitter wretch. The Duke begs Shylock to spare Antonio and offers him an opportunity to change his reputation before the Venetian court. Shylock, however, denies this request and then refuses Bassanio’s offer of two times the sum of the original loan. When Portia arrives disguised as Dr. Balthazar, she also asks Shylock to show mercy. She describes mercy as a leader’s most powerful weapon and asserts that it is an attribute of God. Shylock refuses to follow Portia’s message and fails to elevate himself above Antonio by showing mercy. His pursuit of vengeance blinds him to the chance of redeeming himself. After Shylock demands to hear the court’s judgement, Portia declares that the law gives him one pound of Antonio’s flesh. Portia asks Shylock to hire a surgeon to prevent Antonio from bleeding to death, but he refuses. His desire is not to claim the forfeiture, but to kill Antonio. Shylock’s...

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