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THE ROLE OF PREJUDICE IN THE MERCHANT OF VENICEThis paper discusses the subject of prejudice in the William Shakespeareplay The Merchant of VeniceI IntroductionWilliam Shakespeares satirical comedy The Merchant of Venicebelieved to have been written in 1596 was an examination of hatred andgreed The premise deals with the antagonistic relationship betweenShylock a Jewish money-lender and Antonio the Christian merchant whois as generous as Shylock is greedy particularly with his friendBassanio The two have cemented a history of personal insults andShylocks loathing of Antonio intensifies when Antonio refuses tocollect interest on loans Bassanio wishes to borrow 3000 ducats fromAntonio so that he may journey to Belmont and ask the beautiful andwealthy Portia to marry him Antonio borrows the money from Shylockand knowing he will soon have several ships in port agrees to part witha pound of flesh if the loan is not repaid within three months Shylocks abhorrence of Antonio is further fueled by his daughterJessicas elopement with Lorenzo another friend of AntoniosMeanwhile at Belmont Portia is being courted by Bassanio andwedding plans continue when in accordance with her fathers willBassanio is asked to choose from three caskets -- one gold one silverand one lead Bassanio correctly selects the lead casket that containsPortias picture The couples joy is short-lived however whenBassanio receives a letter from Antonio informing him of the loss ofhis ships and of Shylocks determination to carry out the terms of theloan Bassanio and Portia marry as do his friend Gratiano andPortias maid NerissaThe men return to Venice but are unable to assist Antonio incourt In desperation Portia disguises herself as a lawyer and arrivesin Venice with her clerk Nerissa to argue the case She remindsShylock that he can only collect the flesh that the agreement calls forand that if any blood is shed his property will be confiscated Atthis point Shylock agrees to accept the money instead of the flesh butthe court punishes him for his greed by forcing him to become
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