Prejudice And Discrimination In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

727 Words3 Pages
Jarrod Zammit

William Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Merchant of Venice highlights the flaws in and destructive potential of religious discrimination. It emphasises to its audience how religious prejudice can initiate, heighten and justify discrimination through the Christian attitude towards Jews, and shows the erroneous discriminatory stereotyping being perpetuated by powerful individuals such as the Duke. The harm of religious discrimination is conveyed through Shylock’s protestations to segregation and eventual revenge. These themes teach powerful lessons regarding religious hatred which can be applied to the prevalent modern dilemma of Muslim stereotypes.

The Christian and Jewish conflict in the play demonstrates the harmful and fallacious
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Shylock sardonically monologues how he was named ‘misbeliever [and] cut-throat dog’, conveying his inner fury at the insult through his bluntness and displaying a natural reaction to discrimination. Contemporarily, many Muslims unrelated to ISIS’s terror regime reacted with similar outrage and fear to their sudden consequent segregation. Shylock’s imploring monologue ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?” mirrors the protestations segregated demographics launch, yet the two Christians present to hear remain apathetic. Likewise, while Muslim religious leaders advocate tolerance, Pauline Hanson tries to perpetrate a ban on their religion. Shylock’s conclusive promise is that ‘the villainy [Christians] teach me I shall execute’, communicating how the wrongs Christian committed against him cyclically led to him wronging them, indicating discrimination fosters endless bitterness. 9/11 is a corresponding modern revenge plot in a declared holy war against US Muslim oppression. Shakespeare thus demonstrates the threat of religious discrimination through the demeaning isolation inflicted upon minorities and their compulsion to seek revenge, still relevant for Muslims

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