Terrill Valentine's Reviews > The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
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Nov 24, 07

Recommended for: Shakespere Fans
Read in January, 2007

In Shakespeare’s, “The Merchant of Venice,” the life of a Jew was not an easy life to live, from a history of anti-Semitism came with it a period of expulsion and even downright genocide. The Jews have been discriminated against for many years and it is for this very reason you can start to understand why Shylock was portrayed as a monstrous individual who was inhumane in his techniques. Because of his Jewish history and anti-Semitic biases, Shylock is a product of his time and represents the Jewish community. He symbolized a Jewish stereotype in the eyes of the anti-Semitics. Yet at times Shakespeare contradicts Shylock’s character and he comes off as sentimental, showing human qualities that are rarely seen with him.
This book was a fun and interesting read. I like how Shakespeare sets up his characters for dramatic falls, especially with the character Shylock. Shylock seems to be a bitter individual, he is in fact a product of his times because social settings shape his character, money affects his family relationships, and he has a humanistic need for equality. The need to generalize Shylock as a product of his time is important because it helps us to understand race relations. Even though being a Jew is not a different race they shared the same kinds of segregation as if they were a different race.
The examination of the characters emotions towards one another and their plight creates a sense of sadness and remorse for them which is great in a comedic drama. This book is a great read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a classic Shakespeare story.
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