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Word Count: 2,690
In 1594 the Earl of Essex an English Nobleman who lived during the Elizabethan period in England was actively involved in the persecution and trials of Roderigo Lopez Lopez was a Jew of Portuguese descent who was wrongly accused of attempting to poison the Queen of England for reasons never fully explained Lopez being the Queens royal physician was in no position to defend himself once he was accused Essex who provided the evidence also presided over the trial of Lopez leaving Lopez little chance of survival The innocent Jew was hanged drawn and quartered in Tyburn England for all to witness The story of Roderigo Lopez is similar to the story of Shylock although Palmer tells us It is not suggested that Shakespeare in portraying Shylock had any political or social intentions 112-13 Both Jews were placed in time where anti-Semitism was in fashion Palmer 113 and both thrown into court where they would be tried unjustly The story of Roderigo Lopez sets the tone for The Merchant of Venice Lopez incident occurred in 1594 The Merchant of Venice was written only two years later Anti-Semitism was prevalent during Shakespeares time and therefore we must understand that it was as easy for him to make a Jewish man the villain as it would be for us to make a Nazi the villain According to Sylvan Barnet The Merchant of Venice shows the broad outline of a comedy not merely a play with jests but a play that ends happily the villain in the comedy must be entirely villainous or rather comically villainous he cannot for a moment gain the audiences sympathy 1 Shylock has often been portrayed as the villain in The Merchant of Venice From being more concerned with his ducats rather than his daughter to demanding his pound of flesh Shylock fits perfectly into the mold of the villain
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