Could Jessica, Shylock's daughter, be used as a minor character in an essay discussing one minor character?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Jessica is more of a major than a minor character, she still would be a good subject for an essay. She is thematically important in the way that she elaborates issues of Jewish-Christian relationships. Although she `becomes`a Christian by marrying Lorenzo, there is some question as to the degree to which she still retains her ethnic identity and loyalties.

There are several themes you could explore in an essay on Jessica. First is looking at the question of oppression of the Jews -- is Jessica evidence that the dominant Christian culture, by means of pressure towards assimilation, in essence is `stealing`the children of the Jewish community? Another approach might be to look at the question of loyalty -- is loyalty owed to parent or husband?

In Renaissance theology, Judaism was often identified with the `childhood`of the human race and Christianity with its adulthood. Could Jessica`s move from Jew to Christian as she moves from daughter to wife be emblematic of the relationship of Old and New Testament in Renaissance theology? How do her values change as she undergoes this transitionÉ

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The Merchant of Venice

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