Prejudice and Intolerance Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Merchant of Venice, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. In fact, the exclusion of these "others" seems to be a fundamental part of the social bonds that cement the Venetian Christians together. How otherwise would the ridiculous clown Launcelot ingratiate himself with the suave Bassanio?
One pole of this scale is captured in one of the most famous of the Bard's verse speeches as it is recited, fittingly enough by the epitome of Christian generosity, Portia, during the climactic trial of Act IV, scene i. In borrowed lawyer robes, Portia proclaims: The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above the sceptered sway, It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute of God himself And earthly power doth then show likest God's When mercy seasons justice.
The speech captures the core of Shakespeare's message, mercy is close to God in both human action or "flesh" and in spirit.
It is love of one's friends, compassion for those in difficulty and a willingness to forgive past wrongs that humanity achieves a humble, reverence for God's will. The contours of this Christian value system are thrown its strongest relief by the presentation of an alternative outlook on life, and it is through the dark eyes of Shylock that this foil to enlightenment is presented, in flesh and in spirit.
We, of course, know this, for Shylock like Shakespeare's Iago, Richard the III, and other villains has already apprised us of his hard-heartedness and hateful materialism. In Act I, scene iii, when we encounter the Jewish moneylender for the first time, Shylock discloses his hatred for Antonio and his evil nature in an aside that runs: I hate him for he is a Christian, But more, for in that low simplicity He lends out money gratis, and brings down The rates of usance here in Venice.
If I can catch him upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails Even there where merchants most do congregate On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him! In a Christian society like Shakespeare's Elizabethan England, Jews, being bereft of baptism and subject to circumcision, were popularly viewed as being outside God's grace.
Throughout the play, there are some direct associations between Shylock and the ungodly or Satanic, as in Jessica's first speech where she says that "Our house is hell … " II. As often, and on a meaner note, Shylock is frequently portrayed as a subhuman canine.
Thus, for instance, during the trial scene IV. Owing to a wave of anti-Jewish sentiment in late-sixteenth century England, Shakespeare's audiences were familiar with stereotypically evil Jews on stage, these dramatic characters resonating with the Judas figure of medieval Passion Plays.
Less than a decade before Shakespeare first staged The Merchant of Venice, his rival, the revenge-tragedy dramatist Christopher Marlowe, wrote The Jew of Maltaa very popular work dominated by the evil Jewish moneylender Barabas.
The Merchant of Venice frankly taps into anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish attitudes. The entire section is 1, words.The Merchant of Venice is a 16th-century play written by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice must default on a large loan provided by a Jewish moneylender.
It is believed to have been written between and LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Merchant of Venice, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Prejudice and Intolerance The Venetians in The Merchant of Venice almost uniformly express extreme intolerance of Shylock and the other Jews in Venice. The Merchant of Venice perpetuates anti-Semitism by portraying Shylock as a stereotypical (according to 16th-century standards) bloodthirsty Jewish moneylender seeking a pound of flesh from a Christian character.
Explore the different themes within William Shakespeare's comedic play, The Merchant of timberdesignmag.com are central to understanding The Merchant of Venice as a play and identifying Shakespeare's social and political commentary..
Reality and Idealism.
The Merchant of Venice is structured partly on the contrast between idealistic and realistic opinions about society and relationships. (Click the themes infographic to download.) In The Merchant of Venice, Judaism and Christianity aren't just religions—they're constructed as racial (and even national) identities as well.
(Click the themes infographic to download.) Money is a very big deal in this play. (Big surprise there. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Merchant of Venice, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. In connection with mercy and generosity, The Merchant of Venice also explores love and friendship between its characters.