An introduction to the shakespeares portrayal of jews in the merchant of venice

Act I, scene iii Summary: Act I, scene iii Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, agrees to loan Bassanio three thousand ducats for a term of three months. When Antonio arrives, Shylock, in an aside, confesses his hatred for the man.

An introduction to the shakespeares portrayal of jews in the merchant of venice

Please see the bottom of the page for additional resources. In the humaner view of a later age, Shylock appears as a half-pathetic creation, a scapegoat, a victim; to the Elizabethan public, with his rapacity and his miserliness, his usury, and his eagerness to dig for another the pit into which he himself falls, he seemed, not terrible, but ludicrous.

For the rest, the English public — like the Norwegian public so lately as the first half of this century — had no acquaintance with Jews except in books and on the stage. From until the middle of the seventeenth century the Jews were entirely excluded from England, livery prejudice against them was free to flourish unchecked.

Did Shakespeare in a certain measure share these religious prejudices, as he seems to have shared the patriotic prejudices against the Maid of Orleans, if, indeed, he is responsible for the part she plays in Henry VI?

Jews in Elizabethan Era

We may be sure that he was very slightly affected by them, if at all. It is quite in the spirit of the age that Shylock should suffer the punishment which befalls him. The latter detail gives something of a shock to the modern reader.

All his parallels are drawn from the Patriarchs and the Prophets. With what unction he speaks when he justifies himself by the example of Jacob! His own race is always "our sacred nation," and he feels that "the curse has never fallen upon it" until his daughter fled with his treasures.

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He is no wild animal; he is no heathen who simply gives the rein to his natural instincts; his hatred is not ungoverned; he restrains it within its legal rights, like a tiger in its cage. He is entirely lacking, indeed, in the freedom and serenity, the easy-going, light-hearted carelessness which characterises a ruling caste in its virtues and its vices, in its charities as in its prodigalities; but he has not a single twinge of conscience about anything that he does; his actions are in perfect harmony with his ideals.

Sundered from the regions, the social forms, the language, in which his spirit is at home, he has yet retained his Oriental character.

Passion is the kernel of his nature. It is his passion that has enriched him; he is passionate in action, in calculation, in sensation, in hatred, in revenge, in everything. His vengefulness is many times greater than his rapacity. Avaricious though he be, money is nothing to him in comparison with revenge.

His conception of honour may be unchivalrous enough, but, such as it is, his honour is not to be bought for money.

An introduction to the shakespeares portrayal of jews in the merchant of venice

His hatred of Antonio is far more intense than his love for his jewels; and it is this passionate hatred, not avarice, that makes him the monster he becomes. From this Hebrew passionateness, which can be traced even in details of diction, arises, among other things, his loathing of sloth and idleness.

To realise how essentially Jewish is this trait, we need only refer to the so-called Proverbs of Solomon. Shylock dismisses Launcelot with the words, "Drones hive not with me. This sober logic, moreover, never lacks dramatic impetus. One can feel through his words that there is a chanting quality in his voice; his movements are rapid, his gestures large.

Externally and internally, to the inmost fibre of his being, he is a type of his race in its degradation. Shylock disappears with the end of the fourth act in order that no discord may mar the harmony of the concluding scenes. By means of his fifth act, Shakespeare dissipates any preponderance of pain and gloom in the general impression of the play.

The Jews of Venice were distinguished by orange-tawny and scarlet and black hats, as they were Levantine or Italian Jews. Shylock leans on a staff not because he is infirm, but because of a premature stoop, the result of much leaning over his desk and money-bags.

It is Antonio that is made to suggest the loan as made not to a friend, but to an enemy; but it is Shylock who after all has guided the whole transaction and who suggests the "merry sport," a forfeit of a pound "of your fair flesh.Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Introduction One of the most interesting and dramatic characters in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is the rich, despised money-lending Jew - The Merchant of Venice, adapted and directed by Emma Harding Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 22 April and transposing the plot from Venice to the City of London and the financial crisis.

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Near the end of the play, however, she turned out to be a 1 Keyword: Merchant of Venice, Shylock, Shakespeare, Michael Radford, Daniel Sullivan Introduction Michael Radford’s film “Merchant of Venice”, released in , viscerally introduces Shylock, upon whom Antonio and Bassanio in the first place depend, for both are in the need of financial matter, as the one being posited in the “grand - William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Introduction The three versions of the Merchant of Venice which I have watched are: 1.

Channel 4 television version for their Schools Broadcasting Programmes 2. Trevor Nunn's version 3.

Introduction to Shakespeare's Shylock from The Merchant of Venice