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Word Count: 559
Anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice Throughout the play The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare portrays anti-Semitism through many of his characters Audiences today may interpret the play to be offensive where as people of Shakespeares time would have accepted the play as part of everyday life The majority of Londons population at the time was anti-Semitic because there were very few Jews living there Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice supports anti-Semitism actions and thoughts and therefore it is an anti- Semitic play Anti- Semitism is demonstrated very strongly through the character of Antonio It is clear that Antonio is prejudice towards Jews Shylock confronts Antonio for spitting on his gabardine calling him a dog and scolding him in the Rialto about his moneys Antonio replies with I am like to call thee so again To spet on thee again to spurn thee too13140-141 Antonio does not deny his actions and instead of apologizing he says he will do them again He does not hold back his feelings for Shylock and in a broad sense his feelings toward Jews In the second act Launcelot is debating whether or not he should seek a new employer His problem is that he works for Shylock who is Jewish Launcelot thinks to himself Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation 2224 Eventually he decides to run away from Shylock rather than continue working for a Jew He then presents the argument I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer 22104 to his father Before accepting the new job Antonio discusses the matter with his father and reminds himself that Bassanio is much poorer than Shylock but that he would much rather work for a Christian than a Jew Lorenzo harshly insults Shylock when he tells Jessica that if her father ever makes it to heaven it is only because Jessica converted to Christianity and that is portrayed through the line If eer the Jew
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