Merchant

Of Venice
Stereotypes in "The Merchant of Venice" "Dumb jocks! ",
"Women don\'t belong there, doing that!", "He must be a criminal,
just look at his clothes." How often have we heard somebody mention these
things, yet, how often have we said something similar? Our society is based on
face values where we categorize people because of a few actions. All of the
above statements are prejudicial notions used to define members of a social or
an ethnic group, and are called stereotypes. Stereotypes are explored greatly in
the Shakespeare play "The Merchant Of Venice", as most of the main
characters are looked upon with a stereotypical point of view. However Not all
of the main characters are, some take a different perspective and are a
completely different breed of character compared to the others. A good example
of a stereotypical character in "The Merchant of Venice" would be

Shylock. Shylock is a Jew, and in this time period, Jews where used mainly as
loan officials. The stereotype that he is placed with is that of a Jew, or as it
was seen back then. While the character Portia is a good example of a character
that hasn\'t been implemented with any stereotypes. Some of the play\'s characters
have some stereotypical aspect about them. Antonio is the main character, and is
affected by stereotypes. He is noble, rich, high class, dominant and couldn\'t
care less for the Jew and always wants to make a buck. This was the stereotype
for a rich businessman, and this is how the audience views Antonio. " You
call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gabardine,"
(A1, S3, Ln103-104) Here Shylock is telling us what Antonio has done to him in
the past, which shows that Antonio is both a snob and high class, as he looks
down upon the Jew and spits on his clothes. "... I thank my fortune for it,
...Upon the fortune of this present year: Therefore my merchandise makes me not
sad" (A1, S1, Ln41-45) Here Antonio is expressing his sadness for his ships
that are at see. He is sad because he is unsure if they will return bringing him
his riches or if that they will sink on their mission. This is when the audience
is first shown his greed and businessman like attitude. His nobility is shown
well in the courtroom scene. "For Herein Fortune shows herself more kind

Than is her custom: it is still her use To let wretched man outlive his
wealth" (A4, S1, Ln263-265) Antonio is saying that it was fate\'s choice to
let him die here, and he has accepted that. This shows his nobility, as he is
ready to accept defeat to the Jew and receive his punishment, instead of trying
to wriggle out of it. Another character that is also very stereotypical is

Shylock, the villainous Jew. He is a man who is sought after only for a loan, as
it was only Jews who could give loans and receive interest. Shylock\'s character
of cunning, evil and mischievous man was the stereotype of a Jew back then. This
is how Shylock is portrayed through out the play. " Fair sir, you spat on
me Wednesday last, You spurned me such a day, another time You called me dog:
and for these courtesies I\'ll lend you thus much monies." (A1, S3,

Ln118-121) Many people would ask the question, why would someone in Shylock\'s
position want to give anything to a person who has treated them as badly as

Antonio. However, under the interest free bond that Shylock has created with

Antonio lies a need for revenge so great that Shylock will do anything to take
the life of Antonio. This shows how cunning and mischievous he is as he then
agrees and instead of paying interest, if Antonio is late, he will pay a pound
of flesh. " Expressed in the condition, let forfeit Be nominated for an
equal pound Of you fair flesh, to be cut off and taken" (A1, S3, Ln141-143)

This again shows his cunning and corrupt character. Although both Antonio and

Shylock and both stereotyped in the play, there are some characters that are not
stereotyped. The best example of this is Portia. Back in Shakespeare\'s time, the
woman was stereotyped as being obedient they also never usually were expected to
do anything socially of any real importance. And although Portia is partly a
stereotyped character with the fact that she follows her father wishes in that
the person she marries must pass the test of choosing the correct chest, she
brakes