The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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

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Both the Jewish and Christian characters are portrayed as hostile and antagonistic towards each other in the play. Shylock reveals that he is a bigot by criticizing Antonio's Christian beliefs and practices. He refuses to eat and pray with Antonio and demonstrates his vengeful personality by refusing to accept Bassanio's payment of six thousand ducats so that he can kill Antonio. Similarly, Antonio is also hostile towards Shylock and is unapologetic about publicly ridiculing him. Antonio treats Shylock with contempt and even spits on him. Both Jews and Christians are depicted as intolerant and self-righteous, and both are proud of their religious identity.

Despite the many similarities that exist between the two religious groups in the play, Christians occupy a position of power while Jewish citizens suffer from ethnic discrimination. Christians enjoy many privileges and have the freedom to choose whatever occupation they desire while the Jewish citizens are forced to become usurers because...

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