Shakespeare Essay

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Shakespeare
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE William Shakespeare was a family man ;he was a poet and a lasting literary figure. He is considered to be the most fascinating Elizabethan dramatist due to his ...

Shakespeare's Portrayal of Jews

In Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, there are, as is typical of Shakespeare, several different themes. One that emerges at the beginning and is present throughout the rest of the play is anti-semitism. Many of the people of Shakespeare's time shared the belief that Jewish people were inferior to Christians, a belief reaching far back to ancient times. To these prejudiced people, the Jewish character of Shylock appears to posses the typical negative qualities of

Shakespeare
In the play, Julius Caesar an important Soliloquy occurs in Act II,scene 1, lines 10-34. The passage is very important to the play because Brutus is deciding whether to ...
Jews. However, today's audience is better able to see that these qualities are stereotypical and not at all typical. Further analysis has also led to controversy about whether the "Merchant of Venice" ;supports anti-semitism or attempts to expose it as a misconception. William Shakespeare portrays the life of a Jew in his work, The Merchant of Venice. When the play is first read, Shylock, the Jew is the villian, but he is also a man that has been persecuted all
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare On April 26, 1564, John Shakespeare’s son, William, was baptized at the Stratford Parish Church. No one knows for certain when his birthday was. (Brown 22) It was ...
of his life because of his Jewish background. The Englishmen that lived during Shakespeare's time viewed Jews as moneylenders, devils, and an inferior race. Some of their conceptions of the Jews were true, while some were misconstrued.

Regardless of how it is portrayed in The Merchant of Venice, anti-semitism has its roots in a time long before Shakespeare. Rabbi Roth says that anti-semitism dates back to ancient civilizations who shared different beliefs. One such example is Rome. The Romans believed

William Shakespeare
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE William Shakespeare was a family man ;he was a poet and a lasting literary figure. He is considered to be the most fascinating Elizabethan dramatist due to his ...
in several gods, so they strongly opposed Judaism and they resented Jews, believing that they must convert these misguided people. Later, Christians grew to dislike the Jews because of their opposing view on Christ. Christianity stemmed from Judaism, and the Christians believed themselves a perfection of the Jewish religion. They, too, viewed the Jews as people that needed converting, and took it upon themselves to convert the Jewish population. These negative views of the Jews led to

many hardships

Shakespeare Life
William Shakespeare was a family man ;he was a poet and a lasting literary figure. He is considered to be the most fascinating Elizabethan dramatist due to his writings and ...
brought upon the Jewish people, including the exile of the Jews from England three hundred years before Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice.

Jews have been persecuted throughout all time and in England it started in 1290 under Edward IV. He deported all the Jews living in England to France. Not until Cromwell's Commonwealth in 1656 were Jews allowed to establish communities in England. However, there was a case just before Shakespeare wrote the Merchant of Venice, of Queen Elizabeth's

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare’s parents’ names were John Shakespeare, and Mary Shakespeare. There is no accurate birth date known yet. William Shakespeare began school at the age 7, in Stratford, his ...
physician. He was a converted Jew and was condemned to death for conspiracy against the Queen's life and the trial brought forth all of the old accusations against the Jewish people. During this time laws were passed that that placed special restrictions on where Jews lived, curtailed their social and economic interactions with Christians, and increased pressure on Jews to convert to Christianity. The Crusades were a turning point in the history of anti-Jewish feeling because they set off a
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare’s parents’ names were John Shakespeare, and Mary Shakespeare. There is no accurate birth date known yet. William Shakespeare began school at the age 7, in Stratford, his hometown. ...
wave of riots that killed many Jews and forced more to flee from Western Europe to Eastern Europe. Myths and superstitions grew in the Middle Ages about the Jews. Jews were blamed for disasters that could not be explained, an example of which would be the Black Plague. Even though the Jews died from the plague also, it did not deter the accusations made against them for the thousands that died.

When the play was written, the Jews would still

Shakespeare Biography
William Shakespeare was born in the year of 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His exact birth date is unknown but it is traditionally celebrated on April 23. In England ...
remain in exile from England for another fifty years. This is also a major source of the false beliefs and misconceptions that comprised the anti-semetic beliefs of that time period. Many of these anti-semites had never actually seen a Jew. Therefore, they simply accepted all of the myths about the Jews because they had no basis for comparison. For instance, one of these beliefs was that all Jews were black, and that they possessed an awful smell. This was certainly
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was born in the year of 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His exact birth date is unknown but it is traditionally celebrated on April 23. In England this day ...
not

true, but it is an example of what the people of the Elizabethan time period thought of the Jews. They were willing to believe the negatives about the Jews because they were supposedly the enemies of Christianity, something probably preached by the Church leaders in their attempt to eliminate Judaism. The characteristics in The Merchant of Venice are no different. The story takes place in Italy, but the people there seem to share the same opinion of the

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was a family man ;he was a poet and a lasting literary figure. He is considered to be the most fascinating Elizabethan dramatist due to his writings and ...
Jews. They are all living in the ghettos, virtually forced to live there because of the disapproval of the Venetian citizens. Their lifestyle is looked down upon because it is against The Law of God. Usury, the practice of lending money for interest is considered a sin. Many of the Jews practice this simply because they are forced to. However, this is not realized by the others, and it is evident by Antonio and Bassanio's treatment of Shylock prior to
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare On April 26, 1564, John Shakespeare’s son, William, was baptized at the Stratford Parish Church. No one knows for certain when his birthday was. (Brown 22) It was ...
the deal. Shylock's sentence at the end of the trial is also a fine example of the sentiment toward Jews at the time.

To

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