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
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
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 worse.
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.