What role does the relationship between Jessica and Lorenzo play in The Merchant of Venice?

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This is an engaging question, because the answer has probably changed over time. The relationship between Lorenzo and Jessica is often overlooked when people talk about The Merchant of Venice, but there are many layers to unpack.

During Shakespeare’s time, the rebellious daughter Jessica was probably seen as a heroic figure for going against he father’s word and renouncing her Judaism. This would have been Shakespeare having it both ways: simultaneously saying that a person who happens to be Jewish is also capable of being a good human being, while also contending that one of the ways that person can be a good human being is by renouncing their Judaism.

Jessica is still generally viewed in a positive light, but nowadays those who admire her do so because she acts in the name of love, not because she acts “against” Judaism. In some modern adaptations, Jessica is played as being a callous, ungrateful and diabolical daughter, who treats Shylock far worse than she has any right to. It is...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1037 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 13, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 5, 2020