Why were Jews and Christians separated in Shakespeare's time?
During Shakespeares time the Jews and the Christians were seperated for many reasons. One was because the Christians thought they were better then the Jews, also the Jews were forced to wear red hats to show that they were not Christians. That they were Jews and the reason for this was the the Christians did not want to be mistaken for a Jew. This was one major factor which enforced the separation of the Jews and the Christians. In Shakespeare's time Jews were simply not allowed to be English nationals but the Christians Were. Basically that is all the right that the Christians had that the Jews did not.
Male friendship was something that the society of that time saw as far removed from the notion of sodomy, even though it was a close emotional and physical relationship between males. Contrary to sodomy, it was completely socially acceptable. In fact, it was often seen as the ideal, as the best possible relationship a man could have.
What does the expression 'A pound of flesh' mean ?
"A pound of flesh" is a figurative way of referring to a harsh demand or spiteful penalty—the consequences of defaulting on a desperate bargain. But the usurer Shylock demands a literal pound of flesh as security when the merchant Antonio comes to borrow money for a friend [see BATED BREATH]. It's clear that the sensational bargain, with its hint of archetypal vengeance, fascinated its first audience as it fascinates us. When the play was first published, its title page advertised "The most excellent History of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreme cruelty of Shylock the Jew towards the said merchant, in cutting a just pound of his flesh. . . ."