Discrimination In The Merchant Of Venice

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Discrimination in The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a play by Shakespeare that revolves around the relationship between Venetians and alien groups. In the first half of the play Antonio, the merchant, has several collisions with a Jew named Shylock. The other half of the play is about Portia, a wealthy heiress from Belmont. She encounters several suitors, most of them foreigners. The Venetian characters in the play have a very explicit opinion about the alien groups they have to deal with. This has caused a lot of discussion about the play. Some find it very offensive, consider Shakespeare anti-Semitic and see the play as the basis for an English anti-Semitism. However, it is not only Jews that are discriminated in the play. Portia’s suitors are also shown in a negative light because of the colour of their skin and attitude. The Merchant of Venice shows different kinds of discrimination, portrayed by the contrast between the treatment of the Jews, the Prince of Morocco and the Prince of Arragon.
The way the Jews are treated in The Merchant of Venice shows signs of anti-Semitism. In the beginning of the play Antonio talks to his friend Bassanio about Shylock: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek” (Shakespeare 1.3.5). Antonio depicts Shylock as a villain with an evil soul. He thinks of him as a Jew who is pretending to be good, but has wrong intentions and is therefore evil.
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