What would you identify as "fundamentally problematic and distasteful" (in Merchant of Venice)? Do you agree with his assessment?
There has been a lot of controversy about William Shakespeare's play, Merchant of Venice. Contrasting views are held on the anti-Semitic values in the play, which are identified as "fundamentally problematic and distasteful". However, I do not agree that the play has any "fundamentally problematic and distasteful" elements or holds any anti-Semitic values. I believe that the play brings out sympathy in the audience for Shylock the Jew and shows that Jews and Christians are equal.
Firstly, the play makes the audience feel sympathy for Shylock by portraying him as the victim rather than the villain. Throughout the play, unfortunate things happen to Shylock. First, his daughter steals from him and abandons him, then trades his wife's ring which is very valuable to him, for a monkey, and converts to Christianity.
Then, by the end of the play, he has lost all his money, property, and even his faith when he has to convert to Christianity(Act 4, Scene 1). When all these misfortunes occur, the audience feels compassion for Shylock because he of all his losses. Since Shylock represents the Jew community, the book will make the audience empathise with Jews in real life. The book is not anti-Semitic because it makes the audience feel compassion for Jews.
Secondly, together with portraying Shylock the Jew as the victim, Antonio, a Christian, is portrayed as the villain. The purpose of this is so that the Christians can see themselves in Antonio and feel remorse for the way they treat Jews. Instances of this are throughout the play, especially when Shylock reminds him of the way Antonio treated him. Antonio calls him a "misbeliever, cut-throat dog, spit[s] upon [his] Jewish gabardine" and "spurns"...