Merchant Of Venice Literary Analysis

1758 Words8 Pages
Bahktin on Cultural Materialism
Grotesque Realism in Merchant of Venice

Cultural materialism is a mode of analysis that recognizes the significance of historical and cultural context in literature placing emphasis on the importance of classes and social politics on the content of a work. Bahktin acknowledges the necessity of viewing the world through the lens in which it was written and the manner of language which was used. To establish this mode of discourse he stratifies languages based on various levels of society and life style. These levels include the language of genre, professional and social language, the linguistics of age and generation, and the ever changing jargon of socio-politics. To reach an understanding of any writing, the
…show more content…
The entire society was based off of this new economic structure and status which shapes the way it is portrayed in this play. Due to the competitive nature of the trade in the city Venice was also the first place in Europe to form a Jewish ghetto, segregating Jewish people from everyday life and limiting their ability to participate in the growing economy. Many people during this time were highly critical and negative towards the Jewish population, many for the same reason the main character of this play, Antonio, is hateful towards the Jewish character of Shylock. The main source of income for those who were ostracized form the community was money lending and those who were money lenders were viewed as greedy and untrustworthy by the majority of society. The fact that the character of Shylock is so mistreated in the beginning of this play and claims that the society in which he lives has driven him to his life style portrays the reality of this situation as it was in the 16th century however by making Shylock a grotesque character Shakespeare gives the audience permission to despise that which they are already wary of. Shylock is a physical representation of greed and dishonor which makes him an extremely grotesque character however it is intriguing to look at his portrayal through the lens of Shakespeare’s life. It seems that in constructing this character Shakespeare reflects some of his own experiences and self-identity, which adds to the realness of his character but also seems to provide a self-critique by the playwright. Shakespeare’s father was a money lender throughout his entire life and Shakespeare himself became a money lender later in life, charging extremely high taxation on the loans that he gave out. Acknowledging the similarities between the character he creates and his own life it is possible to see how Shakespeare is using real character flaws, those he

More about Merchant Of Venice Literary Analysis

Open Document