Please explain Shylock's different relationships in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shylock's relationships with other people is either based on business or his religion because he is a shrewd businessman and a devout Jew. His relationship with his daughter is not what he thinks it to be. Due to the fact that Shylock only sees his own pain and trials, he does not hold a relationship of trust with Jessica. Jessica describes her life with Shylock in this way when the clown leaves: "I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so;/Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,/Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness(II.iii.1-3). It's so difficult to live with him that Jessica is determined to run away and convert and marry a Christian just to spite him.

As far as Bassanio is concerned, Shylock sees him as a young and foolish boy whereas he views Antonio as a peer, competitor, and a Christian enemy. They are somewhat civil to each other in public, but they hate each other ultimately. The anti-semitism displayed throughout the play not only creates tensions between Jews and Christians, but affects the far reaches of the law of the land. It also affects Portia who steps in to help settle the matter even though she is a complete separate party to the situation until she marries Bassanio.

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The Merchant of Venice

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