The Merchant of Venice | Critical Essay by B. J. Sokol

This literature criticism consists of approximately 31 pages of analysis & critique of The Merchant of Venice.
This section contains 9,266 words
(approx. 31 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by B. J. Sokol

Critical Essay by B. J. Sokol

SOURCE: “Prejudice and Law in The Merchant of Venice,” in Shakespeare Survey: An Annual Survey of Shakespeare Studies and Production, Vol. 51, 1998, pp. 159-73.

In the essay below, Sokol discusses the legally sanctioned forms of racial prejudice in Elizabethan England—against Jews and people of color, for example—but argues that through characterization, language, and imagery in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare intimates that Renaissance public opinion condemned these prejudicial laws.

I

The legally institutionalized prejudice seen in The Merchant of Venice is repulsive from a modern perspective. I will argue that this play portrays deeply ironic images of social prejudice that offended Elizabethan standards of decency and fairness as well as ours. Paradoxically, these contemporary Elizabethan standards come into focus when the play is viewed from a perspective involving legal history, for...

(read more)

This section contains 9,266 words
(approx. 31 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by B. J. Sokol