How has the father-daughter relationship of Shylock and Jessica failed in Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice? 

How has the father-daughter relationship of Shylock and Jessica failed in Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice?

 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The father/daughter relationship of Shylock and Jessica has failed on two levels that are most important to Shylock: religious and monetary. In addition, this relationship has also failed on the level of respect.

  • Religious

Jessica elopes with Lorenzo and converts to Christianity.

In Act II, Scene 4, Jessica tells Launcelot, the clown, that she is sorry that he is going to leave her father because she, too, is departing since it is "hell."

Farewell, good Launcelot.
Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
To be ashamed to be my father's child!
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. (2.4.15-19)

Jessica runs away after her father goes to supper, ironically, with a "prodigal Christian." When Shylock learns of this, he exclaims,

My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! 
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! (2.8.15-16)

However, while Jessica has converted and become a Christian, she does not act in a Christian manner as she wastes the money and jewels that she has taken from Shylock.

  • Monetary

Shylock's equating of his money with his daughter in the exclamation he makes when he discovers that Jessica is gone may be part of the reason that Jessica has run away. Shylock is very upset because Jessica has taken his jewels, as well, and evidently gone on a spree of spending his money and trading his jewels. In particular, Shylock is livid about Jessica's having traded for a monkey a keepsake ring that Shylock bought for her mother.

  • Respect

Having costumed herself and fled the house while her father is gone, Jessica further displays a total lack of respect for her father when she squanders the fortune she has taken by going on a type of shopping spree. She trades jewels for things that are not worth them, and she squanders money.

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The Merchant of Venice

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