Shylock Antisemitism Essay

1026 words - 4 pages

Paper # 1- Topic (7)"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, heal'd by the same means/ warm'd and cool'd 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?" -Shylock, II.i.58.Throughout history Jewish people have been persecuted and treated in a sub-human manner for their beliefs. Now, there is no way I can possibly talk about all the history in the next few pages. Therefore I have chosen to analyze the bigotry and other forms of mistreatment towards Shakespeare's Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice. These pages address a question that invariably arises in discussions of The Merchant of Venice: a question of anti-Semitism. Specifically, these pages investigate whether there are anti-Semitic elements in The Merchant of Venice and, more specifically, whether Shylock is the embodiment or expression of some anti-Semitic attitude that is pervasive in Elizabethan society. It is necessary to look at a timeline, which will show how the Jewish people haveThe English of the late sixteenth century believed that Christianity was the only true religion, and that God ordained the social order. The individual who set himself against the establishment could only be a source of disruption or, at worst, evil. Since Jews did not believe in Christianity, they were a threat to the social order. The character of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice was no doubt drawn from literature, not real life. The Jewish villain was a stock character in medieval literature (To Prove a Villain - The Elizebethan Villain as Revenger).Summary of History:1066 - Jews enter England1144 - first ritual murder charge, or case of "blood libel" involving William of Norwich1189 - The Third Crusade1194 - Crown establishes Exchequer of the Jews1217 - English Jews made to wear yellow badges1255 - blood libel case: Hugh of Lincoln1265 - rising influence of Italian bankers makes Jewish financial services superfluous1269 - Jewish rights gradually restricted1290 - Jews expelled from EnglandTHREE AND A HALF CENTURIES OF EXILE FROM ENGLAND1589 - Marlowe's Jew of Malta performed1594 - execution of Roderigo Lopez1597 - Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice1655 - Manasseh Ben Israel negotiates with Cromwell for re-admission of Jews into England(The History of Jews in England).In Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice. Shylock, a wealthy Jew is one of the main characters. During the play his merciless and uncompassionate nature is revealed. He seeks the life of another man because he is bent on revenge. One of the main themes of the play is anti-Semitism. Most of the main characters show some hostility towards Shylock because of his religion, including Antonio - the merchant of Venice - his Christian enemy. However...

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