Stereotype In Merchant Of Venice Essay

624 words - 3 pages


A stereotype is a commonly held public belief about specific social groups, or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups, based on some prior assumptions. Generally speaking, these "stereotypes" are not based on objective truth, but rather subjective and often unverifiable content-matter.

Jewish stereotypes:Jewish people have been stereotyped throughout the centuries and made scapegoats for a multitude of societal problems. Jews are still stereotyped as greedy, nit-picky, misers. They have often been shown counting money or collecting diamonds. Antisemitism prevailed for centuries and reached a climax in Nazi Germany during World War II.

Stereotypes in The Merchant of Venice: Stereotypes are explored greatly in the Shakespeare play ...view middle of the document...

This is how Shylock is portrayed through out the play
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.

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.

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.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.

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