Merchant Of Venice – Antonio And Shylock Essay, Research Paper
Antonio and Shylock are two of the main characters in the Merchant of Venice. One of the main plots is to do with the conflict between these two. The main thing that causes these two to argue is their religion, Antonio is a Christian, and Shylock is a Jew. In Shakespearean times there was a huge conflict between these two religions. The Jews were less common making them the minority group and were usually the victims.
Antonio didn’t like Shylock because he was a Jew, and he let Shylock know his feelings. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. In other words, just because Antonio hated Shylock and spat in his face, there’s no reason why Shylock couldn’t just show Antonio love or just stay away from him. Shylock chose to get revenge, so he probably would be viewed as a villain. Prejudice doesn’t get anyone anywhere. This is probably the strongest message of the play. Antonio’s prejudice against Shylock almost got him killed, and Shylock’s prejudice against Antonio converted him to Christianity and robbed him of all his possessions.
Perhaps the play is neither pro-Jewish, nor pro-Christian, since neither the Jew or the Christian are perfect, they both have faults. After reading The Merchant of Venice and seeing how unjustly poor Shylock was treated by his Christian contemporaries, I can’t help but wonder if Shakespeare was actually trying to show the world how hypocritical members of any religion could be, be it Jewish, Christian, or anything else. For, although these two disliked each other based mainly on differences of religious doctrine, they had more in common than bleeding when pricked, laughing when tickled, or dying when poisoned. They are both extremely greedy. Actually the whole play is based on greed and money.
Shylock, in particular, keeps babbling on and on about those precious ducats of his, as if they could actually be more important than his own flesh and blood (and, considering his daughter’s deviation, they probably were). As for Antonio, he was one who loved money, but, in a different way than Shylock. He seemed to love the power that comes along with having money, for he seemed to get more of a buzz out of loaning/giving it to others than out of hoarding it. Nevertheless, he certainly felt an incessant need to have it, as demonstrated by his appeal to deal with the cunning Shylock. Unfortunately, Shylock’s cunning didn’t match up to his greed, as he was bested by that pesky Portia, who helped destroy the Jew’s empire. Of course, Shylock really didn’t lose it all, since Antonio allowed him to keep the half he was to have been allotted, provided Shylock give it to his unworthy daughter upon his passing from this plane.
Why the greed, anyway? Could it be that Antonio convinced himself he couldn’t possibly do any good in this lifetime if he didn’t have cash on hand? Could it be that Shylock believed he wouldn’t have any degree of respect/power unless he had money? Whatever the reasons for the varying degrees of greed present throughout the text, when all is said and done, one can not help but ponder the inevitable: Would Antonio have loaned the money to Shylock, had the situation been reversed?