Compare and Contrast - Stereotypes in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Othello

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In both of Shakespeare’s plays, "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice", there are several instances in which the non-white and non-Christian characters are marginalized and are often the victims of prejudice and outright racism. This occurs in both "Merchant of Venice" and "Othello" particularly through the use and power of language and terms of reference. What is most fascinating about this seeming racism and bias against these characters, Othello and Shylock, is that they aren’t represented in either text as completely fitting the villainous or negative stereotypes other characters wish to put them in. Both Othello and Shylock are presented as sympathetic to varying degrees and although they posses several character flaws that some of …show more content…
Although stated in the past tense, as Shylock accumulates the bill for Antonio, he cannot help but remember the times he had been termed as a “misbeliever, cut-throat, hound” and all the times that Antonia has, as stated in one of the important quotes from "The Merchant Venice" by Shakespeare, “spit upon [his] Jewish gabardine” (I.iii.107–108). Although Antonio is the most guilt of throwing out the racist insults, there is always the background cacophony of these ideas being bandied about amongst the several minor characters. For example, when Shylock believes he is losing his daughter, the “throwaway” characters, Salerio and Solanio attempt to express Shylock’s feelings by exclaiming in one of the important quotes from "The Merchant of Venice" by Shakespeare, “My daughter! O, my ducats! O, my daughter!” suggesting that Shylock ranks his wealth equal to that of the love of his family (II.viii.15). In The Merchant of Venice, it doesn’t seem to matter who is making the racist comments since the fact remains that these statements are so apparent throughout the text that they cannot be ignored or put aside. The reader is not allowed to forget that Shylock is foreign and subject to stereotypes and only at rare moments are we allowed to see the humanity and great sympathy he is capable of. He seems, very much like Othello at once very aware of his status as an outsider and attempts (although through different means) to handle this. Even though

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