Why Merchants of Venice is an Anti-Semitic Play Essay Example
Merchants of Venice is an anti-Semitic play for many different reasons. Many people stereotype Jewish people and in this book it was the Christians who were stereotyping Shylock and think that everything Shylock does is meant in a bad way and to hurt people. They believe that all Jewish people are the same and that all of them are evil, greedy and harmful. They portray Shylock as a greedy and cruel Jew. Merchants of Venice is anti-Semitic and shows the bad and the greedy side of the Jews.
One way Merchant of Venice is anti-Semitic is when Antonio is talking to Bassanio about Shylock and his hard Jewish heart. He is saying that Shylock and all the other Jewish people don't have a heart and soul, that they can never have a heart to be nice to someone. At the beginning of the play Antonio explains “ You may as well do anything most hard as seek to soften that than which what's harder. His Jewish heart”(4.1.79). Antonio implies that all Jewish people are bad including Shylock and that he has no heart and soul. This is saying that Shylock has no heart and he is incapable to be nice to others with a heart as hard as his Jewish heart. Also Antonio is appling that he is not human because they are heartless.
Another reason why Merchant of Venice is anti-Semitic is when they show Shylock is seeking for revenge. He wants to get revenge on Antonio. They portray Shylock wanting to hurt Shylock, not that he just wants revenge, but that he wants to take a pound of Shylock's flesh. Shylock states “To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else it will feed my revenge.” (3.1.52). This proves that Merchant of Venice is anti-Semitic by making him act cruel and greedy. If he doesn't get what he wants, in this case it is the three thousand ducats he will get revenge by taking a pound of Antonio's flesh. In the play they make Shylock look and act like an evil, greedy and a harmful Jew as everyone else sees him as. They show him wanting revenge to physically harm the Christians, which in the play it is Antonio Shylock is seeking revenge with.
Although, there are many different reasons why Merchant of Venice is anti-Semitic, there is another side that people see. Antonio gives his appreciation for Shylock lending him some money and thanks him. He believes there are kind Jews out there and not all are bad. At the beginning of the play Antonio state's “ Content, in faith. Ill seal to such a bond, and say there is much kindness in the Jew”(1.3.164). This shows that he thinks that there is much kindness in Shylock, that he appreciates his lending the money. Many people just think that all Jewish people are bad and don’t care or take the time to really get to know someone for who they really are they just believe all the nasty things that are said about Jews. In this play Antonio Antonio was able to see the kindness in the Jews, despite the fact of all the rumors that were made about Jews being evil.
Even though Antonio saw the kindness in Shylock, he is portrayed as evil, greety, harmful throughout the book. Some think of Jews as kind people such as Antonio, others agree and believe that all Jewish people are greedy and cruel. The people are stereotyping the Jewish based on what other people are saying about them. Merchant of Venice shows a lot of different reasons why Jewish are bad and showed the bad side of Shylock.
Shylock is shown as a Jewish person who is greedy and selfish. In the play, he only cares about himself and his money and no one else. He wants everyone to do what he wants in order for him to do what they want him to do. He states “ Go with me to a notary, seal me there your single bond; and in a merry spot, if you repay me not on such a day. Let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken”(1.3.156). He stated that if Antonio never pays him back then Shylock will take an exact pound of flesh from his body. He was threatening Antonio in saying if he breaks the bond than Shylock will hurt and may even kill Antonio. This proves that the play portrays Shylock as an evil, greedy and a harmful person.
All in all there were many different reasons that support that Merchants of Venice is anti-Semitic. The Christians are always shown as being the good people in the book and the Jews are always shown as the bad people who don't care about anyone else and are all greedy. Shylock is portrayed as evil, greedy and harmful in many different situations. He was greedy, evil and harmful for wanting revenge and wanted to hurt or even kill Antonio by taking a pound of his flesh. There are many people who stereotype Jewish people to be all bad.