Merchant Of Venice Essay Research Paper Stereotypes

Merchant Of Venice Essay, Research Paper Stereotypes in "The Merchant of Venice" "Dumb jocks! ", "Women don’t belong there, doing that!", "He must be a criminal,

Merchant Of Venice Essay, Research Paper

Stereotypes in "The Merchant of Venice" "Dumb jocks! ",

"Women don’t belong there, doing that!", "He must be a criminal,

just look at his clothes." How often have we heard somebody mention these

things, yet, how often have we said something similar? Our society is based on

face values where we categorize people because of a few actions. All of the

above statements are prejudicial notions used to define members of a social or

an ethnic group, and are called stereotypes. Stereotypes are explored greatly in

the Shakespeare play "The Merchant Of Venice", as most of the main

characters are looked upon with a stereotypical point of view. However Not all

of the main characters are, some take a different perspective and are a

completely different breed of character compared to the others. A good example

of a stereotypical character in "The Merchant of Venice" would be

Shylock. Shylock is a Jew, and in this time period, Jews where used mainly as

loan officials. The stereotype that he is placed with is that of a Jew, or as it

was seen back then. While the character Portia is a good example of a character

that hasn’t been implemented with any stereotypes. Some of the play’s characters

have some stereotypical aspect about them. Antonio is the main character, and is

affected by stereotypes. He is noble, rich, high class, dominant and couldn’t

care less for the Jew and always wants to make a buck. This was the stereotype

for a rich businessman, and this is how the audience views Antonio. " You

call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gabardine,"

(A1, S3, Ln103-104) Here Shylock is telling us what Antonio has done to him in

the past, which shows that Antonio is both a snob and high class, as he looks

down upon the Jew and spits on his clothes. "… I thank my fortune for it,

?Upon the fortune of this present year: Therefore my merchandise makes me not

sad" (A1, S1, Ln41-45) Here Antonio is expressing his sadness for his ships

that are at see. He is sad because he is unsure if they will return bringing him

his riches or if that they will sink on their mission. This is when the audience

is first shown his greed and businessman like attitude. His nobility is shown

well in the courtroom scene. "For Herein Fortune shows herself more kind

Than is her custom: it is still her use To let wretched man outlive his

wealth" (A4, S1, Ln263-265) Antonio is saying that it was fate’s choice to

let him die here, and he has accepted that. This shows his nobility, as he is

ready to accept defeat to the Jew and receive his punishment, instead of trying

to wriggle out of it. Another character that is also very stereotypical is

Shylock, the villainous Jew. He is a man who is sought after only for a loan, as

it was only Jews who could give loans and receive interest. Shylock’s character

of cunning, evil and mischievous man was the stereotype of a Jew back then. This

is how Shylock is portrayed through out the play. " Fair sir, you spat on

me Wednesday last, You spurned me such a day, another time You called me dog:

and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much monies." (A1, S3,

Ln118-121) Many people would ask the question, why would someone in Shylock’s

position want to give anything to a person who has treated them as badly as

Antonio. However, under the interest free bond that Shylock has created with

Antonio lies a need for revenge so great that Shylock will do anything to take

the life of Antonio. This shows how cunning and mischievous he is as he then

agrees and instead of paying interest, if Antonio is late, he will pay a pound

of flesh. " Expressed in the condition, let forfeit Be nominated for an

equal pound Of you fair flesh, to be cut off and taken" (A1, S3, Ln141-143)

This again shows his cunning and corrupt character. Although both Antonio and

Shylock and both stereotyped in the play, there are some characters that are not

stereotyped. The best example of this is Portia. Back in Shakespeare’s time, the

woman was stereotyped as being obedient they also never usually were expected to

do anything socially of any real importance. And although Portia is partly a

stereotyped character with the fact that she follows her father wishes in that

the person she marries must pass the test of choosing the correct chest, she

brakes this pattern of being stereotypical during the courtroom scene, where she

dresses up as a man. "Enter Portia [disguised as Doctor Balthazar, followed

by officials]" (A4, S1, Ln162.5) This is very unusual for a woman to dress

up as a man, and so because of this we know that Portia doesn’t follow the

stereotypes like Antonio and Shylock do. Jessica is another example of a

character that doesn’t follow the stereotypes as Antonio and Shylock do. Jessica

is the daughter of Shylock, we know from the first time we meet her that she

doesn’t follow the stereotypes as she wants to elope with Lorenzo and she has

stolen from her father. "But love is blind, and lovers cannot see The

pretty follies that themselves commit" (A2, S6, Ln37-38) Here Jessica is

expressing her love for Lorenzo, who is a Christian. From this we can determine

that she isn’t a stereotypical character, as Jew’s weren’t supposed to fall in

love with Christians. Overall, there are some characters in the play that are

portrayed as being stereotypes, while there are also some that are not. This

balances out the play instead of having all stereotyped characters. So ‘The

Merchant of Venice" does explore stereotypes to some extent with some of

the characters while on the other hand as there are some characters that

aren?t stereotyped then the idea that ‘The Merchant of Venice’ only has

stereotyped characters validity decreases.