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To what extent do you feel sympathy for Shylock In the 16th century Jews were discriminated against especially in England and Venice Christians believed that the Jewish race was inferior to them and that Jews should not be accepted into their society There were very few Jews in England in this period this was mainly due to the fact that Edward had been lent money by several Jewish money lenders he became unable to repay the money he owed them and as a result sent them into exile The remaining Jewish population were hated even more In Venice Jews were not given equal opportunities They were unable to own land or work in the country as anything other than money lenders people resented them for charging interest on the money they lent which was their only income Not many people wanted to do this type of work anyway as money lenders were very unpopular so they left it to the Jews This was extremely unfair as the Jews had to rely upon the people living in Venice to survive in the country In Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice Shylock a Jewish money lender is hated by Antonio the merchant of Venice firstly because of his religion and secondly because of his profession Antonio thinks that Shylock is wrong for charging interest on the money he lends out Antonio is very wealthy so he can do this it is also not his professionAntonios reasons for hating Shylock would have reflected the views of Shakespeares audience Shakespeare has made Shylock a very avaricious character we see this aspect of him as soon as he enters the play with his first words 3000 ducats This characteristic is shown in several parts of the play To its extreme when Jessicahis daughter runs away taking his money and jewels with her he says I would my daughter were dead at my footand the jewels in her ear This shows he
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