Compare and contrast Jews and Christians in The Merchant of Venice.  

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Christians

1. Hold positions of power

2. Well-respected in Venetian society

3. Do not practice usury (lending money with interest)

4. Hypocritical

5. Biased

Jews

1. Have to work for everything they have (Shylock is not rich--like Christians--because of the family into which he is born.  He is a shrewd businessman).

2. Receive no respect (Antonio and others spit on Jews, call them names, and force them to wear red hats.  Servants of Jews feel that they can freely and openly insult their masters, something they would never do in the employment of Christians).

3.  Many rely upon usury to make a living because so many of their other rights have been taken away from them.  Ironically, even though Christians are against practicing usury, they are the Jews' customers, thus keeping the usury alive.

4.  Instead of demonstrating hypocrisy, Shylock is quite open with his intentions and cannot help but identify the Christians' hypocrisy.

5.  Biased also against all Christians (Shylock is dismayed that his daughter has run off with a Christian; he assumes that all Christians are like Antonio, even though Portia--disguised as Balthazar--offers him a way out of his situation). 

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The Merchant of Venice

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