While Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merchant of Venice” was originally intended as a means of comic relief, many historians can also vouch for its comments on controversial issues, such as anti-semitism. Shylock, the play’s Jewish antagonist, always seems to get the short end of the stick. Whether it’s loaning money to the Christian “who hates [the Jews”] sacred nation” or simply trying to be a good father to his daughter Jessica, Shylock always gets hurt or punished. Regarding the relatively good relationships possessed by the other characters compared to that of Shylock, the role of anti-semitism in “The Merchant of Venice” is one to be explored; however, needless of the results, it is still obvious that through having no friends and belonging to the minority sect of religion, Shylock is still portrayed as the pariah of Venice.
One major plot in this play concerns Jessica, the Jewish daughter of Shylock, eloping with a Venetian Christian named Lorenzo. Obviously the difference in religion is an unsurmountable barrier for the two young lovers, so Jessica takes a brave step in easing their relationship–converting to Christianity. Regretfully for Shylock, Jessica does not cherish her relationship with her father. In fact she feels that “though [she is] a daughter to his blood, [she is] not to his manners.” Making her final decision, Jessica leaves the home that she grew up in as a Jew to the vastly Christian streets of Venice confidently stating, “Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost, I have a father, you a duaghter, lost.” Shylock’s uncontrollable rage described by two of Antonio’s friends, Salerio and Solanio, indicates that Jessica obviously meant a lot to him. Losing her friendship, or at least working father-daughter relationship, further establishes the tensions Shylock must experience in being an outsider.
As if losing his daughter isn’t enough, Shylock’s long time servant, Launcelot, also decides to break all ties with the Jewish master.