Religious Discrimination : The Merchant Of Venice Essay examples
ENLT 215 B
November 16, 2016
Religious Discrimination in The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare. The main plot involves a Jewish moneylender and his Christian debtor. Because of religious differences and discrimination, the story becomes violent and somewhat dark. Analyzing the tension between Jews and Christians in The Merchant of Venice reveals an important warning for modern society.
Characters and Plot Shylock is a Jewish moneylender. Jewish people during the period of the play are mistreated by the larger Christian community. Jews in Venice (and many other European cities) are forced to live in ghettos. They are locked in after dark, and have to distinguish themselves as Jews when outside the ghettos during the day. Shylock is understandably bitter and resentful as a result of this discrimination. Antonio is a Christian merchant. Just before the start of the play, he invests all his money in several merchant ships. Soon after, his friend Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan, as he needs money to court his love, Portia:
O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with [the rich suitors]...
(Bassanio, Act I, Scene II, Lines 180-181) However, Antonio has no money to give:
...all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money nor commodity
To raise a present sum.
(Antonio, Act I, Scene II, Lines 184-186)
Antonio instead signs an agreement with Shylock for the necessary funds. Shylock…