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Self-Interested Behaviors Amidst Prejudice Within Anti-Semitic Values In Merchant Of Venice

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The human experience is the perception of human emotion, encompassing a wide range of conceptions about life and loss. Our capability to love and hate allows writers such as William Shakespeare to construct a world with binaries that highlights how experiences and motivations affect human behaviour. Shakespeare’s 16th-century play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ a comedic tragedy, discovers self-interested behaviours amidst prejudice within anti-Semitic values shaped by context in Roderigo Lopez and Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Jew of Malta’, featuring extensive racial prejudice in context of the ‘Civil Rights Movement’. Shakespeare uses contrast, dramatic irony and symbolism, to develop the theme of love and hate, throughout the central character, Shylock. Thus, the play has an abundance of multifaceted characters in exploring their individual scenarios, ultimately, revealing motivations behind indecisive and deceitful behaviours, allowing the audience to gain a complex perspective of important concepts about the world of human experiences.

The collateral human experience of prejudice in ambition for revenge, reveals sympathetic motivations behind character scenarios in the text, that assists in conveying the intricacies of human behaviour. Within the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s’ courtroom scene dramatises a conflict between justice and mercy. While law and revenge are j The human experience is the perception of human emotion, encompassing a wide range of conceptions about life and loss. Our capability to love and hate allows writers such as William Shakespeare to construct a world with binaries that highlight how experiences and motivations affect human behaviour. Shakespeare’s 16th century play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ a comedic tragedy, discovers self-interested behaviours amidst prejudice within anti-Semitic values shaped by context in Roderigo Lopez and Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Jew of Malta’, featuring extensive racial prejudice in the context of the ‘Civil Rights Movement’. Shakespeare uses contrast, dramatic irony and symbolism, to develop the theme of love and hate, throughout the central character, Shylock. Thus, the play has an abundance of multifaceted characters in exploring their individual scenarios, ultimately, revealing motivations behind indecisive and deceitful behaviours, allowing the audience to gain a complex perspective of important concepts about the world of human experiences.

The collateral human experience of prejudice in ambition for revenge, reveals sympathetic motivations behind character scenarios in the text, that assists in conveying the intricacies of human behaviour. Within the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s’ courtroom scene dramatises a conflict between justice and mercy. While law and revenge are juxtaposed, they overlap within the text. Shylock’s argument for justice upon pursuing Antonio’s pound of flesh alludes to the connection between law and revenge. His rhetorical question, ‘On what compulsion must I?” is juxtaposed by Portia’s call for the Christian value of mercy to be upheld. Thus, By pitting mercy against justice, Shakespeare shows the audience they are destined to have disputes as it is hardwired in one’s mind. Throughout the play, the value of money corrupts man through the characterisation of Shylock and Antonio. Shylock who is of Jewish faith manipulates religion to justify his taking of insurance which can be seen through his retelling of the story of Jacob in Act 1, Scene 3, “This was a way to thrive, and he was blessed/ And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.” The biblical allusion demonstrates a spiritual human experience that Shylock has with his faith. The justification given by him is an act of manipulation of religion representing human behavior and motivations, invoking the displeasure of Antonio, “the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose/ an evil soul producing holy witness/ is like a villain with a smiling cheek/ a goodly apple rotten at the heart.” The use of similes and metaphors draws attention to Shylocks actions while contrasting his behaviour and motivations. Shakespeare contrasts this with the characterisation of Antonio, “Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad” . Through this we see that Shakespeare is portraying Antonio who has not been corrupted by the value of money unlike Shylock, portraying a bias towards the Christian faith. Furthermore, the actions of both Antonio and Shylock demonstrate an aspect of emotional and spiritual human experiences within The Merchant of Venice.

Throughout Shakespeare’s play, the audience are shown many different types of relationships which are essential to the play and its story. A major relationship found inside the play is the resilient friendship between Antonio and Bassanio, where most of the story is formed around. In the first act, Antonio offers himself as a human bond for Bassanio’s debt alluding to the sacrifice of Christ. Without questioning the reason for Bassanio’s request, Antonio has already determined to give him all he desires, “Within the eye of honour, be assured/My purse, my person, my extremest means/Lie all unlocked to your occasions”. Here, the first-person pronoun ‘my’ is repeated to emphasise Antonio’s generosity, while the verb ‘unlocked’ also suggests freedom and openness, ironically contrasting with Antonio’s later arrest. The repetition and alliteration evokes the perception of the intense friendship having homoerotic connotations. Shakespeare displays the various dynamics of love by comparing love stories within the play. The first suitor who tries to win Portia’s hand, exemplifies arrogance and conceit, having no love for her but her wealth, serving as a reminder that the external appearance is not a reliable indication of its true nature. In contrast to this, Jessica and Lorenzo’s love juxtaposes Portias relationship as the irony of a Jew marrying a Christian indicates that love can be so strong it overpowers religious and cultural differences. The use of emotive language, “Love is blind and lovers cannot see”, personifies the emotion to demonstrate the metaphorically blinding power of affection.

The theme of appearance vs. reality is enhanced with the relationship between Shylock and Antonio. Shylock’s use of emotive words “ I would be friends with you and have your love” denotes coalition and loyalty. However, Antonio’s blindness to Shylock’s harbouring deceit conveys ignorance, as his ulterior motive is to take a pound of flesh from Antonio. Shakespeare employs many dramatic and language techniques within this scene in order to remind them that one’s actions can be contradictory to their seemingly honest motives. The choosing of the three caskets is also used as the main explanation of appearance versus reality. The suitor of Portia must choose either a gold, silver or lead casket, where the right choice will allow the suitor to marry her. The Prince of Morocco, on choosing the beautiful gold casket with the

inscription, ‘Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire,’ sees the message, ‘All that glisters is not gold,’ and is thus turned away by Portia. Shakespeare makes it clear to his audience that being externally minded throughout life may bring satisfaction but will not bring contentment. The Prince of Arragon, on choosing the silver casket with, ‘Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,’ receives a fool’s head, and leaves Belmont, much in the same way The Prince of Morocco did – a shadow of his former self. Bassanio however, on correctly choosing the lead casket with the

inscription, ‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath,” symbolically indicates that his love for Portia brought certain maturity that allowed him to realise “Look on Beauty,/And you shall see ‘tis purchased by the weight”. Through this, an idea of hypocrisy is introduced in which a person may go back completely on his ideals if he is in pursuit of something of great gain to himself, exemplified through Bassanio’s search of riches masked by the love that he intends to have for Portia. Furthermore, Shakespeare uses the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio, as well as the three caskets, to create further drama and show the audience that weakness is an immanent trait within us.

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The basis of the human experience is found within its challenges. Furthermore, Shakespeare presents a variety of complex, flawed characters to examine questions which are often left unresolved about the human condition.

Uxtaposed, they overlap within the text. Shylock’s argument for justice upon pursuing Antonio’s pound of flesh alludes to the connection between law and revenge. His rhetorical question, ‘On what compulsion must I?” is juxtaposed by Portia’s call for the Christian value of mercy to be upheld . Thus, By pitting mercy against justice, Shakespeare shows the audience they are destined to have disputes as it is hardwired in one’s mind. Throughout the play, the value of money corrupts man through the characterisation of Shylock and Antonio. Shylock who is of Jewish faith manipulates religion to justify his taking of insurance which can be seen through his retelling of the story of Jacob in Act 1, Scene 3, “This was a way to thrive, and he was blessed/ And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.” The biblical allusion demonstrates a spiritual human experience that Shylock has with his faith. The justification given by him is an act of manipulation of religion representing human behavior and motivations, invoking the displeasure of Antonio, “the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose/ an evil soul producing holy witness/ is like a villain with a smiling cheek/ a goodly apple rotten at the heart.” The use of similes and metaphors draws attention to Shylocks actions while contrasting his behaviour and motivations. Shakespeare contrasts this with the characterisation of Antonio, “Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad” . Through this we see that Shakespeare is portraying Antonio who has not been corrupted by the value of money unlike Shylock, portraying a bias towards the Christian faith. Furthermore, the actions of both Antonio and Shylock demonstrate an aspect of emotional and spiritual human experiences within The Merchant of Venice.

Throughout Shakespeare’s play, the audience are shown many different types of relationships which are essential to the play and its story. A major relationship found inside the play is the resilient friendship between Antonio and Bassanio, where most of the story is formed around. In the first act, Antonio offers himself as a human bond for Bassanio’s debt alluding to the sacrifice of Christ. Without questioning the reason for Bassanio’s request, Antonio has already determined to give him all he desires, “Within the eye of honour, be assured/My purse, my person, my extremest means/Lie all unlocked to your occasions”. Here, the first-person pronoun ‘my’ is repeated to emphasise Antonio’s generosity, while the verb ‘unlocked’ also suggests freedom and openness, ironically contrasting with Antonio’s later arrest. The repetition and alliteration evokes the perception of the intense friendship having homoerotic connotations. Shakespeare displays the various dynamics of love by comparing love stories within the play. The first suitor who tries to win Portia’s hand, exemplifies arrogance and conceit, having no love for her but her wealth, serving as a reminder that the external appearance is not a reliable indication of its true nature. In contrast to this, Jessica and Lorenzo’s love juxtaposes Portias relationship as the irony of a Jew marrying a Christian indicates that love can be so strong it overpowers religious and cultural differences. The use of emotive language, “Love is blind and lovers cannot see”, personifies the emotion to demonstrate the metaphorically blinding power of affection.

The theme of appearance vs. reality is enhanced with the relationship between Shylock and Antonio. Shylock’s use of emotive words “ I would be friends with you and have your love” denotes coalition and loyalty. However, Antonio’s blindness to Shylock’s harbouring deceit conveys ignorance, as his ulterior motive is to take a pound of flesh from Antonio. Shakespeare employs many dramatic and language techniques within this scene in order to remind them that one’s actions can be contradictory to their seemingly honest motives. The choosing of the three caskets is also used as the main explanation of appearance versus reality. The suitor of Portia must choose either a gold, silver or lead casket, where the right choice will allow the suitor to marry her. The Prince of Morocco, on choosing the beautiful gold casket with the

inscription, ‘Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire,’ sees the message, ‘All that glisters is not gold,’ and is thus turned away by Portia. Shakespeare makes it clear to his audience that being externally minded throughout life may bring satisfaction but will not bring contentment. The Prince of Arragon, on choosing the silver casket with, ‘Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,’ receives a fool’s head, and leaves Belmont, much in the same way The Prince of Morocco did – a shadow of his former self. Bassanio however, on correctly choosing the lead casket with the

inscription, ‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath,” symbolically indicates that his love for Portia brought certain maturity that allowed him to realise “Look on Beauty,/And you shall see ‘tis purchased by the weight”. Through this, an idea of hypocrisy is introduced in which a person may go back completely on his ideals if he is in pursuit of something of great gain to himself, exemplified through Bassanio’s search of riches masked by the love that he intends to have for Portia. Furthermore, Shakespeare uses the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio, as well as the three caskets, to create further drama and show the audience that weakness is an immanent trait within us.

The basis of the human experience is found within its challenges. Furthermore, Shakespeare presents a variety of complex, flawed characters to examine questions which are often left unresolved about the human condition.

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Self-Interested Behaviors Amidst Prejudice Within Anti-Semitic Values In Merchant Of Venice. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/self-interested-behaviors-amidst-prejudice-within-anti-semitic-values-in-merchant-of-venice/
“Self-Interested Behaviors Amidst Prejudice Within Anti-Semitic Values In Merchant Of Venice.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/self-interested-behaviors-amidst-prejudice-within-anti-semitic-values-in-merchant-of-venice/
Self-Interested Behaviors Amidst Prejudice Within Anti-Semitic Values In Merchant Of Venice. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/self-interested-behaviors-amidst-prejudice-within-anti-semitic-values-in-merchant-of-venice/> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2022].
Self-Interested Behaviors Amidst Prejudice Within Anti-Semitic Values In Merchant Of Venice [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Dec 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/self-interested-behaviors-amidst-prejudice-within-anti-semitic-values-in-merchant-of-venice/
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