The Merchant of Venice Essay

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[Smith considers Shylock a villain based on his profession as a usurer rather than on his race. He examines Elizabethan beliefs concerning both Jews and usury, maintaining that Shylock is branded a villain because of two important historical facts: first, as a Jew he is an unbeliever in the Christian faith; second, as a usurer he practices an unpopular vocation. Modem anti-Semitism is not present in The Merchant of Venice, Smith continues, and Shylock's evil is inherent by nature of his humanity rather than by his Jewishness. Shylock is merely a miserly evildoer, the critic contends, who uses his faith not only as a veil for his nefarious schemes, but also as an expression of his indignation at being discriminated against Based on this observation, Smith disputes the conventional reading of Shylock's "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech in Act III, scene i, maintaining that it reflects Shylock's...

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This section contains 2,965 words
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The Merchant of Venice from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.