The Merchant of Venice: Religious Conflict between Christians and Jews Essay

Submitted By calilove143
Words: 1885
Pages: 8

Love Doesn’t Know Religion William Shakespeare is known to be the most influential writer and dramatist of English literature and theatre. Known for his impeccable use of dramaturgy. Shakespeare, communicate to the audience how he wants them to feel and think. In his plays, Shakespeare uses different allegories to present ideas through the usage of symbols and exceptional usage of language. In the comedic play The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses different themes, motifs, and symbols to connect certain ideas to his audience. The setting of the play is in sixteenth century Venice and Belmont, Italy. One of the main ideas that surround the play is the religious conflict between Christians and Jews. Which leads to an unequal separation between the population. The Christians are looked upon with more respect and honor whereas the Jews are the looked down upon and disrespected. With the many themes and motifs in the play, the ring scenes throughout the play symbolize and draw attention to many significant arguments that Shakespeare hints to. The play’s ring scenes are significant in revealing hidden qualities about the characters and the prejudice they each hold and how it all plays out. In The Merchant of Venice the four main characters are Antonio, Bassanio, Portia, and Shylock. It is hard to pin point that Antonio is the merchant of the play due to his flat, and somewhat lifeless character throughout the play. Antonio is portrayed as the honest Christian merchant of Venice. As the play goes on, Shakespeare subliminally gets the audience to wonder if Antonio is in love with his best friend Bassanio. Reason for that is, Antonio frankly says he will do anything for Bassanio, going as far as risking a pound of his flesh to get Bassanio a loan from Shylock. Also even under the most critical situation that Antonio is put under, for instance when he is ordered to court to deliver his pound of flesh to Shylock he says, “Pray God Bassanio come / To see me pay his debt, and then I care not” (III.iii.35–36). Thus, this statement shows how deep Antonio’s love for Bassanio is, where even when he may die, his last wish is to see Bassanio.
Bassanio is Antonio’s best pal and what seems to be his secret love interest. Bassanio is the guy who is living beyond his means by borrowing money from Antonio and abusing his love. As the paly goes on, Bassanio comes off as a user. For instance, he takes advantage of Antonio’s unconditional love and keeps borrowing money from him, and even puts Antonio’s life at risk by having him cosign his loan from Shylock with a pound of Antonio’s flesh if the debt is unpaid. Also, the fact that Bassanio tries to get out of his debt by marrying the rich heiress Portia, where he clearly admits to in Act 1, Scene 1, line 165-175. Moreover, In the mentioned speech Bassanio describes his future wife based on her worth and value and describes her as if she is his debit clearing instrument.
Portia is the female heroine of the paly. She is the rich princess whom Bassanio wants to marry. The way Portia is described by Bassanio makes it seem like she has a perfect life. Yet the heiress to her dead fathers fortune is not allowed to pick her husband. Her father’s will says her husband to be must choose one of three caskets and the suitor that choses the casket with her portrait wins her as his bride. But if the suitor fails to choose the right casket they can never get married. With that Portia’s marriage is becomes lottery grand prize for one lucky suitor. Which comes to show how even though her father is deceased he still has some control of his daughter.
Shakespeare doesn’t only portray Portia as the pretty blond rich girl, but also shows another side to her. As the play progresses Portia ends up saving Antonio, by twisting the law in a brilliant way to make it work for her. She tricks everyone by hiding her true identity, and playing mind games on her husband. All in all she ends up having the upper hand…