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Essay/Term paper: Anti-semitism in the merchant of venice

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Merchant of Venice

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Anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice

It is my strong belief that the play, "The Merchant of Venice", should be
taught in classes. If this play was banned from schools it would most certainly
be a form of censorship. While minors rights are somewhat limited when it comes
to this right, I think that even Minors should not be censored from this writing.

The play teaches us about prejudice, and why it is wrong. People would see
how everyone was hurt at one time or another by a prejudice, whether it was the
Christians making fun of Shylock or Shylock showing his prejudice to the
Christian's. I imagine that anyone watching, listening or reading this play
would see how everyone was hurt, and would learn of racism's faulty basis's for
judging someone.
Some people would have you think that the play itself is racist, and
provides a forum in which racism can grow and become only a bigger problem. I
think that this is a flawed way of looking at it. I see the play as a
confrontation of a modern day problem which society still faces. Rather than
providing a forum for racism to grow, the play provides a forum for anti-racism
discussion, if all proper steps are taken. When I say if all proper steps are
taken, I am referring to having this play taught by a teacher, who can explain
the plays meaning in it's fullest so that the students do not miss any important
points from it.
Another point that may have been missed when the presentation was made to
the school board to ban the material from being taught inside the school system
was that everyone is bad in the play. The Christians portrayal was just as bad
as the Jewish man, Shylock's portrayal. In fact I think that the play gave a
worse portrayal of the Christian's because they ended up being the most evil,
through taking away everything that Shylock had and making him become Christian.
While Shylock did want to kill someone, the punishment invoked on him was even
As you can see, there are many reasons why "The Merchant of Venice" should
be taught in classrooms. A. Whitney Griswold said in a speech (1952), "Books
won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of
history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon
against bad ideas is better ideas." I think that this is particularly true in
this case, the bad ideas of racism in the play can be attacked through positive
reinforcement of anti-racism views and showing how wrong racism is. Suppose we
were to censor "The Merchant of Venice" what happened if one day someone picked
it up, read it, and followed the anti-Semitism in it. I think that if it will
stop one person from being racist, by teaching them it is wrong by teaching
everyone then it will all be worth it.


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