Essay on Shylock in William Shakespeare's Othello

1713 Words 7 Pages
Shylock in William Shakespeare's Othello

The Jews ancestral home-land, where they had lived for hundreds of years was Palestine. However, they were exiled from this land in about the year 400 AD. They scattered out and formed a Diaspora, a community of exiled people. Once the Roman Empire had deteriorated, a lot of them began to make their way back to Palestine, which was then invaded by the Turks, and ruled by them for 800 years until the British came.

The Jews came over to Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066, and in 1217 they had to wear yellow badges to distinguish them. They were heavily discriminated against and were blamed in murder cases often involving Christian children, leading
…show more content…
First of all, having read the play and looking over it all, it's clear that Shakespeare doesn't seem to have written him as purely a villain or purely a hero, he is portrayed, simply, as a human. A human, who like millions of others, seeks revenge, wants justice fair rights and has basic needs too. I think, for someone who has never met a Jew, and who's grown up in the majority of society saying Jews are evil, Shakespeare has created a very open minded characterisation.

Shylock's story begins when he's just starting to snap; all of his life has been a struggle. Not only have his fellow Jews and ancestors been persecuted for their religion, but so has he. The Christians have made it so that he can only do one job, then they slander him for charging interest and making a profit. In our first meeting with Shylock and Antonio together, Shylock complains that Antonio always insults him, spits on him and dismisses him. Antonio says:

'I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.'

This blatantly shows his disrespect for Shylock and his open hatred for him. However, this doesn't represent clearly his hatred for Shylock's race, and when, Shylock says, in an aside, on his first sight of Antonio in the play, 'I hate him for he is a Christian' This is a general term of racism he uses, and it would be easy to

Related Documents