The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare
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What is an example of a possessive pronoun in The Merchant of Venice?

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An example of a possessive pronoun in The Merchant of Venice can be seen in act 1, scene 3 when Shylock says, “Cursed be my tribe, if I forgive him!”

In this excerpt, Shylock uses the possessive pronoun “my” to identify himself with his fellow Jews. They are the members...

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An example of a possessive pronoun in The Merchant of Venice can be seen in act 1, scene 3 when Shylock says, “Cursed be my tribe, if I forgive him!”

In this excerpt, Shylock uses the possessive pronoun “my” to identify himself with his fellow Jews. They are the members of the tribe to which he refers.

In Shylock's Venice, Jews are a persecuted minority, routinely subjected to legal discrimination as well as personal abuse from people who regard themselves as Christians. It is the blatant hypocrisy of those who claim to follow Christ's message of universal love yet display nothing but hatred towards Jews that provides the main motivation for Shylock's loathing of Christians.

Because he hates Christians so much, Shylock is not prepared to forgive Antonio. If he did, then he would be bringing down a curse upon all other Jews, “my tribe,” as Shylock calls them.

In using the possessive pronoun “my,” the Venetian moneylender is trying to justify what may seem to some to be vindictive behavior. Due to his invocation of the tribe, Shylock's lack of charity towards Antonio, far from being an expression of selfish vindictiveness, can be construed instead as a way of defending the Jewish faith against a Christian. In showing Antonio no mercy, Shylock believes himself to be acting on behalf of his religion, not just on his own account.

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