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Merchant of Venace

             People in Shakespeare's time based their hatred for Jews on religious reasons. The Elizabethans believed a story made up by the Church. The story states that the Jews murdered Jesus and were therefore working with the devil and were actively trying to stop Christianity. The religious reasons for this hatred also pushed them to believe that if a Jew converted to Christianity, as Shylock is forced to do in The Merchant of Venice, then all will be forgiven as the repentant Jew is now pure of heart. ".some Christians believed that the coming of the Kingdom of God was aided by converting the Jews to Christianity" (Hughes 5). As the play unfolds, Shylock appears to be the villain, but Shakespeare ultimately shows that he is as much a victim of Christian hatred as he is a villain, thus demonstrating that all humans are equally flawed. .
             Through his machinations to exact revenge against Antonio, Shylock is shown as devious and vengeful. In Act one, scene 3, before Shylock's interaction with Antonio, he admits that he hates Antonio for hurting him in his business and for insulting him in public through acts such as spitting on him and calling him "cutthroat Jew". Shylock states that he hopes to have revenge on Antonio both for his own humiliation and for the persecution that all Jews have faced from the Christians "I hate him for he is a Christian;. . . If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation . . . Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him"(1. 3. 15-18). However, Shylock then tells Antonio that he wants to be friends with him and will firm the contract for a pound of flesh as a "merry sport." Shylock uses friendliness only to disguise his true intent: Antonio's destruction (Johnson 4). Shylock's hatred of Antonio grows after Jessica's marriage because he suspects that Antonio had encouraged her escape; this suspicion increases Shylock's hatred toward Antonio (Lippman 1).

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