The Struggle Between Jews And Christians In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

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People are always quick to judge those who are in the minority, and usually look down on them, even though they may have quite a bit in common, it is the little details, such as skin tone, religion, orientation, that cause a divide. William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice demonstrates the struggles of a Jewish moneylender, Shylock to get justice while his world crumbles as bonds and relations disappear before his eyes. The play is filled with much anti-semitism expressed by the majority of Christian citizens of Venice towards Shylock. The Merchant of Venice challenges the widespread anti-semitism of the time by demonstrating how similar events impact both Jews and Christians in the same way. When a person is wronged by another, the desire …show more content…
In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock loses his daughter, Jessica, when she runs away; Bassanio comes very close to losing his friend Antonio. Right before the pound of flesh is about to be stripped from Antonio’s chest, the two exchange final words. Bassanio “would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all Here to this devil, to deliver you.” (IV.1.84-85) showing his loyalty to his friend to the end. Bassanio is telling his friend that he would be willing to give up his wife, his life, and his world to save his friend. The prospect of losing his friend really hurts Bassanio, because Antonio is always there for him, and helps him up when he is down, mentally as well as financially. Shylock also loses someone close to him, at least in his mind, his daughter Jessica. To him, this loss is particularly painful because “My own flesh and blood to rebel!” (III.1.31). This illustrates how his loss hits him hard because Shylock always was a good father to Jessica, and the only thing he ever did wrong by her was become a Jew. The use of the word rebel in this quote conveys the image of a trusted person turning on another unsuspectedly. Shylock, much like Bassanio, has lost someone who is very close to him. He lost both Lancelot and Jessica in one night, both who have been with him for a long time. Like Bassanio, Shylock turns his loss into a hatred for the one he considers responsible, which for Shylock …show more content…
In The Merchant of Venice, the rings that are given to Shylock and Bassanio are valued and guarded highly by both, even though they are of different religions. Although Shylock’s wife is rarely mentioned, the reader can understand that he loved Leah very much in the way he values the ring she gave him. When he is informed of how Jessica has used this ring as a payment from Tubal, Shylock is saddened, claiming that “Thou torturest me, Tubal... I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.” (III.1.111-113). Shylock feels tortured about the loss of this ring because it is one of the only items he has that reminds him of Leah. A ring symbolizes a bond between man and woman, and losing this ring means losing a symbol of Shylock’s previous life with Leah. One can discern that this ring is of importance because he claims to be harmed and wounded by the loss of this ring. Monkeys are very expensive, luxurious animals, and to reject a group of monkeys means that he values this ring far more than any pet animal. Leah brought him more joy than any exotic animal or physical item ever could. Bassanio is also given a ring by his wife, Portia, which he promises to guard with his life. Bassanio treasures this ring so much, that when it is removed from his finger, “then parts life from hence; O then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!” (III.2.184-185).

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