The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare
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What is The Merchant of Venice about?

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Shakespeare utilizes a myriad of themes within The Merchant of Venice. First among those themes is the antisemitism demonstrated when Shylock is judged by his ethnicity rather than his business practices. He is a successful businessman who is mistrusted merely because he is a Jew. Shakespeare demonstrates the prejudice and class structure present in English society in the 16th and early 17th century that still remains in many countries today. An additional theme that is prevalent is a question of honor as is shown with the lottery of chests. The suitors are tested for honor to find if they are pursuing the maiden for the dowry or her. That was a brave stand for Shakespeare in a culture where arranged marriages were the order of the day. Many of Shakespeare's plays deal with unhappy or ill-conceived marriages and this was no exception.

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