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Anti-Semitism in The Merchant of
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
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.
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