Treatment of Jews in the 16th Century Essay
Looking at the history of Jews in England, it is evident that Jews were persecuted and murdered up until 1290, when Jews were expelled from the country. Jews were treated with strong disrespect both because of their alternative religious beliefs, and because of their financial status and ways of living.
One can safely assume that Shakespeare never actually met a Jew, because Jews had been expelled three and a half centuries before he lived. Therefore the stereotypically evil character of the Jew was merely a myth, passed down through the generations.
Shakespeare obviously intended on demonising the Jew of his play, making Shylock an outcast to the …show more content…
Jews were forced into money lending, which was one of the few professions open to them. Christians believed that to lend money with interest was wrong, and so only Jewish would work in those roles. Jews were mocked, and people were very racist. It was not as easy routine to live by.
In Venice, "ghettos" were allocated to Italian and German Jews. Italy did not follow the rule of persecution strictly, yet some individuals did suffer. They did not have the same rights as Christian citizens and although they were allowed to build property, only blank walls were allowed to face the rest of the city, and nightly curfews were imposed on them.
The Jews had a huge reputation already set out for them. Ordinary Christians believed the Jews to be responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, and legend read that Jews used the blood of Christian babies to make their bread. Jews had previously been targeted to wear badges, distinguishing them as part of the Jewish community at all times. During the plague years, Jews