Theme of "Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare

Essay by sanaa622A-, July 2007

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The main themes of the book "Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare are anti-Semitism and prejudice. As you read, you clearly see that there is a discrimination against Jews in there society. Antonio is the merchant of Venice and is a Christian, and Shylock is a money-lender and is a Jew. Through out this book, you see how Shylock was discriminated and had a biased opinion of him.

Shylock hated Antonio because he was a Christian, you would think that he is prejudice too but there’s more to that. “He hadth disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nations, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated my enemies- and what’s the reason? I am a Jew”. Jews were looked down on, through out this book no one ever called Shylock by his name, and everyone referred to him as a “Jew”.

When Antonio’s best friend Bassanio needs money and Antonio does not have cash, he agrees to a loan with Shylock and signs the bond saying if Antonio doesn’t pay back on time, he is to give Shylock a pound of his flesh. When Antonio gets bankrupt, it’s time for Antonio to pay. “I am sure the duke/Will never grant this forfeiture to hold” said Solanio. This shows that just because a Jew made the bond, it doesn’t have much value and there should be some way to get out of it.

When they turn the tables around on Shylock by getting technical with the bond, Antonio is free but Shylock isn’t. “That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit, I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.” The Duke says he is different from him and is giving him his life before he asks for...