Explore to What Extent Shylock's Discrimination Is Caused by His Religion or His Attitude

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Explore to what extent Shylock’s discrimination is caused by his religion or his attitude

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the Jewish character Shylock is discriminated against due to both his religion and his attitude towards the other characters. His Jewish beliefs contrast greatly with the Christian, Venetian society he lives in, thus he is regarded an outsider and is discriminated against. However Shylock makes no effort to socialise with the other characters despite his and their religion, and he ensures his daughter Jessica acts in the same way as himself.

Shylock’s religious beliefs define him as a character. In stage directions he is referred to as “Shylock the Jew” or on other occasions simply “The Jew”. This clearly signifies that his religion is the most essential factor about his character. In Act 1 Scene 3, a very important scene in the Merchant of Venice, Shylock describes how he is treated by the Christian money-borrowers such as Antonio – “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat, dog” The adjective “misbeliever” indicates how the Christians believe Shylock believes in a false religion, the wrong religion. Furthermore the use of the word “dog” signifies that they see Shylock as lower than them like an animal, primarily due to his religion.
However Shylock himself is also guilty of discriminating against people due to their religion. In an aside he says “I hate him for he is a Christian” and this shows that he is similar to the other characters in the sense that religion is a factor in how he feels about people. Moreover Shylock hates Christians because of how they treat Jews like himself; therefore this dictates how his attitude is with them. Also, the fact Shylock says this in an aside indicates that he is either afraid to say it aloud or wishes it to remain a secret and to be shared with the audience. However Shylock makes it very clear to

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