Prejudice And Racism In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

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Unlike Milton, Shakespeare’s writing style is not overbearing – he rarely includes any of his own opinions. For this reason, many aspects of Shakespeare’s personal life, such as his religion and sexual orientation are still unknown to this day. Though Shakespeare does not convey his personal beliefs to others, his works still go into great detail regarding topics such as religion. This is a sharp distinction from Milton’s works, where he constantly refers to Christianity as the only way to live life. Milton comes off as preaching his personal beliefs, while Shakespeare’s personal beliefs remain unknown, preserving his neutrality. As professor Edmundson stated, “Shakespeare, poetic genius that he is, actually holds no perceptible views… you …show more content…
Shakespeare uses the conflict between Shylock and the Christians to expose racism on a large scale to his viewers. As a reader, it is difficult to not sympathize for Shylock, due to the inhumane racism he experiences. In Shakespeare’s time period, many people most likely behaved similarly to Antonio and the Christians – racist and condescending towards certain groups. However, perhaps being exposed to the racism as a neutral viewer would sway people into realizing that it is immoral. Shylock pleas about equality, “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? … If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” (Act 3, Scene 1, Line 57 - 65). Through this quotation, Shakespeare conveys the notion that regardless of race, Shylock and the Christians are still all humans, and are all fundamentally the same. Though it may not seem so, for Shakespeare to promote racial equality in his time period is a courageous move that many poets would not attempt. Personally, I think Shakespeare is noble for even including Shylock’s perspective into his play. Though Shakespeare does not definitively promote equality, I personally believe that he is critiquing the people of his time period for their blatant racism with his work The Merchant of Venice. Therefore, Shakespeare makes an effort to challenge the typical racial biases of his time period.
While Shakespeare rejects prejudices, Milton actively enforces gender stereotypes. Eve, the only female character in Paradise Lost, is constantly condescended upon by the other characters in the work. Milton makes no effort to insinuate that Eve is equal to Adam, but instead segregates Eve on multiple occasions throughout the work, implying that she is a second-class-citizen to Adam. For example, when Raphael talks to Adam regarding Gods plan, Eve steps

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