Shakespeare Mocked Christianity In His Play The Merchant Of Venice

971 words - 4 pages

In the play The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare used two characters to show his point of view of what he thought Christianity was. The first character, Antonio, the merchant of Venice, was presented as the hero at the beginning of the comedy because he was a good Christian trying to help out a friend. The second character, Shylock, the Jewish usurer, was presented as the villain. However, as the plot gradually became more intense it became harder and harder to distinguish who was the antagonist and who was the protagonist.At first, it might seem that Shakespeare was a Christian. He introduced Antonio in the play as a hero and a good Christian. Antonio, unable to loan his friend, Bassanio, the money he needed, asked Shylock for a loan. "Shylock albeit I neither lend nor borrow by taking ripe wants of my friend, I'll break a custom." This showed how Antonio was a hero. He was willing to do anything to help his friend. Antonio even went as far as to have agreed to give up a pound of flesh if he did not return the loan in three months. "Content in faith. I'll seal to such a bond and say there is much kindness in the Jew.Furthermore, Shakespeare presented Shylock as the antagonist. His first unfavorable characteristic was that he was a Jew, and Jews charged interest on loans. His second negative characteristic was that he hated the hero, Antonio. "He lends out money gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice. If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him." This statement from Shylock illustrated both of his unfavorable characteristics. It showed that he charged interest on loans and hated Antonio.Everything mentioned to this point would make Shakespeare appear as a Christian. However, the small amount of clues, proving that he was not, started becoming larger and more frequent to the reader until it was quite noticeable that Shakespeare was in actuality mocking Christianity.As previously mentioned, Shakespeare made Antonio out to be a noble, Christian man willing to risk his life for a friend, but he then made the merchant's friendly character suspect. For example, Shakespeare left clues to show that Antonio's noble reason to help Bassanio out may have been because they were homosexuals. "My purse, my person, my extremest means lie all unlocked to your occasions." These words from Antonio to Bassanio suggested more than a simple friendship.Another way Antonio's friendly Christian character became suspect was his attitude toward Shylock. Christians were supposed to be unprejudiced, forgiving people, but the merchant had neither of these qualities. Antonio hated Shylock because he was a Jew. For instance, before Antonio asked Shylock for the loan, the heroic merchant called the villainous Jew derogatory names and admitted freely...

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