Shakespeare's Shylock

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Shylock: The victim of a 21st century tragedy William Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice during the Elizabethan era, a time when anti-Semitism was a prevalent theme, and conventional literature depicted Jewish characters as being greedy and malicious. Because Shylock is Jewish, England’s 16th century audience considers him the ultimate cultural villain; however, 21st century readers see him somewhat differently. While The Merchant of Venice is a 16th century comedy, it is a 21st century tragedy, portraying Shylock not as the villain but as the ultimate victim. Shylock is the victim of discrimination; and while this anti-Semitism is the norm for Elizabethan culture, modern-day literature denounces this injustice and does not celebrate prejudice. In 16th century England, Christians denounced Jews for valuing money and business more than human relationships. Shylock’s pragmatic and business-like mindset therefore makes him an avaricious villain. However, there is nothing immoral about Shylock’s financial interest and awareness on the limitation of his spending. In today's literature, this quality highlights an individual’s responsibility and maturity. Bassanio, on the other hand, is not responsible because he carelessly spends all of his money and then borrows more from others despite the fact that he knows he will never be able to return it. Modern-day audiences do not admire Bassanio’s idleness but instead scoff him for being unreliable. Bassanio admittedly has spent all of his money and has none left to spend: “Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, how much I have disabled mine estate, by something showing a more swelling port than my faint means would grant continuance” (I.i.122-125). In so many words, Bassanio is a loitering mooch and an unreliable friend who takes advantage of Antonio. He automatically expects Antonio to lend him money
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