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In The Merchant of Venice, can Jessica, a Jew, trust Launcelot, being a Christian? Is...

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sajjad1476 | Student | Honors

Posted March 19, 2013 at 11:55 AM via web

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In The Merchant of Venice, can Jessica, a Jew, trust Launcelot, being a Christian? Is he trustworthy?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 19, 2013 at 1:39 PM (Answer #1)

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This question is very like the previous question but not as specific. Questioning Launcelot's allegiance in general is pertinent as he does express his hatred for Shylock  the " devil " himself. Although Shylock would not appear to be the central character based on the play's title, he is in fact a crucial and his Jewishness cements the plot and reveals the main difference between the so-called Christian philosophy of compassion versus the Jewish belief in the justice system and the Old Testament view of retribution.

Launcelot has no respect for Jews, a problem that was prominent in British society  in Shakespeare's day - the Jews having been banned from England for centuries before. He believes that Jessica is damned by the very fact that her parents are Jewish and there is nothing she can actually do about that.

However, Launcelot is a clown by profession and, as such shows no allegiance to anyone. He even fools his own father and is therefore generally not taken too seriously as to interrupt or change the progression of the play.  

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