Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Merchant of Venice Should be Studied in High Schools Essay

Since middle school, I have believed that all of Shakespeare’s works, similar to A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, were plays that one would read to hear a happy, entertaining story; but, it was not until this year, after reading The Merchant of Venice, that I recognized the darker, more sinister, side of Shakespeare’s plays. The Merchant of Venice supports the Jewish, anti-Semitic stereotype as the wicked character of Shylock is developed. Many individuals fear that it is improper to teach and discuss The Merchant of Venice in high school classrooms because of the negative way it presents Jews; however, I believe that it is important to read this controversial play in high schools because it enables students to learn anti-Semitic history and because reading Shakespeare’s works, due to their complexity, expands the literary mind of those who read it. It is so important for people to recognize how Jews were portrayed during Shakespeare’s life so that historic events such as the holocaust do not repeat themselves. Teachers who plan on presenting their students with The Merchant of Venice should also present them with articles explaining how Jews received their negative stereotype and explain to them that Jews are not as evil as Shylock. The play can still be useful as a high school reading experience only if taught correctly, in a manner that avoids Jews being insulted and non-Jews getting a completely flawed idea about Jews. Although comedic during the 16th century, The Merchant of Venice can no longer be viewed as a comedy in the 21st century due to the diversity of people and general acceptance of their cultures throughout the United States. Without proper instruction from teachers, non-Jewish students may begin to express h... ...ent in their society. In reading Shakespeare, minds of readers are expanded due to his use of Early Modern English and extensive vocabulary. Shakespeare’s works also provide readers with great entertainment whose portrayal of the human condition transcends the generations. The Merchant of Venice contains many witty lines and sub-plots. â€Å"Prejudice feeds on ignorance† (Leggatt 215). If teachers do not teach their students the origin of such stereotypes, then they are developing ignorant students who will forever believe that Jews are incarnations of the devil. Considering the Jewish Stereotype that is supported and developed in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the play is, indeed, still useful as a high school reading experience because, due to its sensitive topics, assists in eliminating innocence and creates a more discerning eye for world issues in students.

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