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Racial And Cultural Prejudice Essay

752 words - 3 pages

There are many themes woven into the play The Merchant of Venice, Prejudice being the most evident. This prejudice is mainly racial (against race) or cultural (against lifestyle, i.e. religion, culture…) and is one of the leading causes of conflict in the play. Prejudice towards Jews, prejudice towards Christians, and prejudice towards people of different colour and prejudice of others with different nationalities, are all present in the play. (transition)
"Here come another of the tribe: a third cannot be matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew." (III, i, 73-74) This one quotation perfectly displays the attitude held towards the Jews at the time of The Merchant of Venice. In this quote, Solanio is stating that the Jew is worse than the devil himself. The audience would have accepted, and even enjoyed, this display of prejudice since anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews) was typical at the time. The discrimination that was held towards Jews has never truly made sense but “Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.” -Samuel Johnson. Nothing that Shylock could have said would have changed the cruelty that was being giving to him by the Christians. The quote “Christian virtues unite men. Racism separates them,” by Sargent Shriver, implies the Christians’ attitude towards the Jews contradicted many of their beliefs. For example, the one about the importance of loving others. (transition)
“How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian;” (I, iii, 37-38) This quote shows that Shylock, too, discriminated. Hate begets hate and the anger that the Jews must have held towards the Christians makes sense considering the anger held towards them. Discrimination against Christians has always been occurring and, just like Jews, many have had to fight, and die, for their beliefs. Even so, that does not necessarily make it right for anyone to discriminate back. The quote, “You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.” -Bobby Seale, makes it known that when hate is involved, nobody wins. This hate caused Shylock to take things too far in order to receive his fair share of what he called “justice.” He lost the humanity that he was being given...

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