The Play Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare was an engaging and eventful play that allowed me to understand the separation that occurred between Jewish and Christian people during Shakespeare’s time. Throughout the play, the themes that stood out for me were prejudice, injustice, and the conflict between love and self-interest. In addition, I learned how far different characters were willing to go because of the “love” they had for others.
Prejudice and injustice were two themes that were demonstrated in this play. Prejudice can be seen through the character of Jessica. Shakespeare’s example of prejudice is shown in the dialogue between Lancelot and Jessica when Lancelot jokes about how Jessica would not enter paradise because of her Jewish father. Even though Jessica was welcomed with open arms, she would always be known as the daughter of the jew. Jessica left her religion, father, and past life where she was trapped under her father’s control for Lorenzo and Christianity. However, because of her jew bloodline, she will never be a true Christian and will always have some prejudice against her. Injustice is demonstrated through Shylock, who depicts the life of Jews and how they were treated as a result of their beliefs. Shylock’s passionate speech raises awareness about how Jews are treated and how they feel targeted. It made me realize how Shylock was feeling and how frustrated and angry he was because of the persecution he was receiving, including being humiliated, insulted in public, and harassed because of his beliefs. This was a strong point in the play, demonstrating his sense of injustice and his plans for revenge after being treated unjustly. Injustice towards Shylock is demonstrated when the bond ends. Everything was taken away from him, including his faith which was important to him and his identity.
The conflict between love and self-interest is shown through the character Shylock and Antonio. The significant difference between the Christian characters and Shylock appears to be that the Christian characters emphasize human relationships over business-related relationships. In contrast, Shylock appears to be entirely concerned with money. This is how the Christian characters see the situation. Merchants like Antonio risk their lives to lend money to individuals they care deeply about, like Bassanio. In comparison, Shylock grieves the loss of his money and is said to run through the streets crying, “O, my ducats!” “Oh, my daughter!” (II.viii.15). He appears to appreciate his money more than his daughter with these statements, implying that his greed overrides his love. However, Shylock also shows sadness and how hurt he is because his daughter left him all alone. This is shown in scene three. An example that shows how hurt he was was when he heard that Jessica sold the ring of his beloved dead wife for a monkey. Upon hearing this rumour, we see how upsetting this was to Shylock, indicating that some human connections are more important to Shylock than money. Furthermore, his emphasis on a pound of flesh rather than any amount of money demonstrates that his anger outweighs his greed.
Overall, I enjoyed the play and seeing the movie version alongside it helped me have a deeper understanding of the lives of individuals who live in segregated groups. I believe that this play addresses more than just the Jewish-Christian divide; it also shows how unfair the system was and the mistreatment of non-Christians.
This play can be applied to various groups, demonstrating the injustice and prejudice that groups have towards one another. Lastly, the Merchant of Venice emphasizes the impact of mistreatment solely because of others’ differences and demonstrates the discrimination that occurred throughout history to this day.
3 thoughts on “Merchant Of Venice Personal Response”
Hi Amira, your discussion about the nature of justice and human connection in the play was amazing and detailed! One thing I would add on to your response is how do injustice and self-interest serves as characteristics of a so-called modern dystopia?
Hi Amira, I really like how you analyzed the situation with Shylocks daughter. I think “his greed overrides his love” describes it perfectly. I love how you projected the mistreatment of non-Christians onto the nowadays, with injustice and prejudice of groups. You mention the deep meaning of the play, very well!
Nice job Amira, your writing was very well thought out and clear. One note would be that the religion is Judaism not Jewish. Someone can be Jewish but they cannot be part of the religion of Jewish, they would be a member of Judaism. I am pretty sure that’s how it works. It was really interesting how you made the point about self-interest, and how the characters acted selfishly and for themselves in many parts. You wrote very well Amira! Great job!
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