AntiSemetism In The Merchant Of Venice Essay

Anti-Semetism In The Merchant Of Venice Essay, Research Paper

Anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice

It is my strong belief that the play, “The Merchant of

Venice”, should be taught in classes. If this play was banned

from schools it would most certainly be a form of censorship.

While minors rights are somewhat limited when it comes to this

right, I think that even Minors should not be censored from this


The play teaches us about prejudice, and why it is wrong.

People would see how everyone was hurt at one time or another by

a prejudice, whether it was the Christians making fun of Shylock

or Shylock showing his prejudice to the Christian’s. I imagine

that anyone watching, listening or reading this play would see

how everyone was hurt, and would learn of racism’s faulty basis’s

for judging someone.

Some people would have you think that the play itself is

racist, and provides a forum in which racism can grow and become

only a bigger problem. I think that this is a flawed way of

looking at it. I see the play as a confrontation of a modern day

problem which society still faces. Rather than providing a forum

for racism to grow, the play provides a forum for anti-racism

discussion, if all proper steps are taken. When I say if all

proper steps are taken, I am referring to having this play

taught by a teacher, who can explain the plays meaning in it’s

fullest so that the students do not miss any important points

from it.

Another point that may have been missed when the

presentation was made to the school board to ban the material

from being taught inside the school system was that everyone is

bad in the play. The Christians portrayal was just as bad as the

Jewish man, Shylock’s portrayal. In fact I think that the play

gave a worse portrayal of the Christian’s because they ended up

being the most evil, through taking away everything that Shylock

had and making him become Christian. While Shylock did want to

kill someone, the punishment invoked on him was even worse.

As you can see, there are many reasons why “The Merchant of

Venice” should be taught in classrooms. A. Whitney Griswold said

in a speech (1952), “Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn.

Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor

and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon

against bad ideas is better ideas.” I think that this is

particularly true in this case, the bad ideas of racism in the

play can be attacked through positive reinforcement of anti-

racism views and showing how wrong racism is. Suppose we were to

censor “The Merchant of Venice” what happened if one day someone

picked it up, read it, and followed the anti-Semitism in it. I

think that if it will stop one person from being racist, by

teaching them it is wrong by teaching everyone then it will all

be worth it.


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