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 "The Merchant of Venice" - Shylock Vs. Antonio

"Christians are superior to Jews." Such was the attitude of the Elizabethan audiences. This audience saw Shylock as the villain, because, according to them, evil was an inherent trait of a Jew. In order to make all the negative traits of Shylock the Jew more apparent, Shakespeare created a contrast. Antonio, who is meant to contrast Shylock, is used to make the Jew's flaws more obvious to the Elizabethans.
When Shylock and Antonio meet, their words of confrontation show how each is nearly the opposite of his fellow. To highlight the Jew's stinginess, Shakespeare has the two protagonists argue about it. Shylock prides himself on his thrift, while in the gentile world it was most probably, as it is today, looked down upon. Antonio, in contrast, prides himself on having an open wallet. Antonio spares no expense for his friend Bassanio's happiness, even his life, he would willfully give. Also, this caring for a friend contrasts Shylock's sentiments. Shylock didn't care about his daughter after she betrayed him, but only wanted his possessions to be returned. Furthermore, the kind Antonio is happy, while the angry Shylock only becomes more bitter as the play progresses. Both happiness and being free with one's money were looked upon as positive things in Elizabethan times. Both traits were obviously portrayed by Antonio the Christian, while Shylock was the owner of the opposite characteristics, frowned upon in those times.

Kindness is another virtue in the book embodied by Antonio. While Shylock's love of money or ambition preclude any such kindness, Antonio is a charitable man. Antonio helps those in need of a loan, lending money free of interest. Thus, he would attract borrowers, giving them an alternative to borrowing ducats at Shylock`s astronomical interest rates. Because he is so amiable, Antonio is constantly accompanied by friends. Shylock the Jew, however, is nearly always alone, spending precious few minutes with his single friend, Tubal. This seeming popularity of Antonio is another admirable trait which he portrays, and Shylock the Jew plays the loner, most probably a less glorious place to be on the social ladder at that point in history. This social success and kindness of the Christian would reaffirm the theory of Christian superiority in the minds of the audience, contrasting it with the social failures of the Jew.

Also, the loyalty which was paid to Antonio and the high opinion held of him is in stark contrast the betrayal and mockery of Shylock. Shylock's own daughter had abandoned the faith which he loved, and he was persecuted for. Before leaving though, his daughter made sure to rob him as well, taking away from him all that he had. Antonio's friends, however, stay with their friend even in his darkest hours. Also, many speak of the greatness of Antonio behind his back, while they mock Shylock to the Jew's face as well as behind his back.

The second to last scene, however, holds the most important contrast in the eyes of the Elizabethans. Just as one thinks the Jew will succeed, he falls. In that scene, the verdict does not go the way Shylock foresaw, the Jew expected to extract the pound of flesh. However, being unable to cause any blood loss or take anything more or less than a pound of flesh, Shylock demands the principle. Unknowingly, Shylock had committed what could be considered attempted murder, the punishment being the loss of one's estate and possible one's life. The Jew's money is taken, and his life is on the line. Antonio, the Christian, ends up on top, gaining half of Shylock`s estate, because the Jew attempted to kill him. The reason why these two endings had to be contrasted is to show their importance. The failure of the Jew alone would not have been enough, but the victory of the Christian was written in order to show the two eventual endpoints for the religions. The Elizabethans were comforted, thinking that although the Jews were successful now, they, too, would fall and the Christians would ultimately succeed.  

ARTICOLELE PUBLICATE IN PAGINA DE REFERATE AU SCOP DIDACTIC SI SUNT ELABORATE IN URMA UNEI DOCUMENTARI SUSTINUTE. ESTE STRICT INTERZISA PRELUAREA ARTICOLELOR DE PE SITE SI PREZENTAREA LOR LA ORELE DE CURS. Referatele din aceasta sectiune sunt trimise de diferiti colaboratori ai proiectului nostru. Referatele va sunt prezentate pentru COMPLETAREA STUDIULUI INDIVIDUAL, si va incurajam si sustinem sa faceti si voi altele noi bazate pe cercetari proprii.

   Daca referatele nu sunt de ajuns, va recomandam pagina de download gratuit, unde veti gasi prezentari PowerPoint, programe executabile, programe pentru bacalaureat, teze nationale, etc. 


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