Revenge Versus Love In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

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Jews versus Christians. Revenge versus love. Appearance versus reality. The Merchant of Venice is, in a broad sense, a play of sheer opposites. However, there are a few occasions when Shakespeare bridges the gap between such distinct extremes. These multifaceted moments, if evaluated carefully, challenge readers to question the consequences. Shakespeare addresses one such complexity in the supposed conversion of Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, to Christianity. Although on the surface, her assimilation into Christian society appears seamless, a closer literary analysis proposes quite a different conclusion about her conversion. It may not be so much a question of how much of a convert Jessica is, but rather it is more important to look at her motivations for conversion, followed by the subsequent personal dilemma she encounters between her dissimilar external and internal identities. The first time Jessica is afforded the chance to speak, her words are a…show more content…
In one conversation with Jessica, he begins by stating that “the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children,” implying from the start that there is significance in that Jessica is Shylock’s child, whether he means “sin” to represent the passing down of the Jewish faith specifically or not (3.5.1-2). This important introductory line is a biblical reference to Deuteronomy 5.9, which instructs that the “iniquity of the fathers,” or what a Christian might equivocate to the Jewish faith, will continue “unto the third and fourth generation,” just as religion was thought to be passed down through generations and heavily interwoven with one’s ancestry (King James Version). Therefore, because of having been born to a Jew, the concept of faith denomination by blood again makes its presence for
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