Modern Audience's Response to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

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Modern Audience's Response to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

The modern audience respond in a very negative way. Some of the things which make them respond in this way are the racism and the not so funny jokes.

The open racism is a very sensitive subject due to what happened in world war two and the modern audience is not very appreciative of it. When Antonio talks to Shylock about borrowing money he is not kind and polite but is rude and very anti-Semitic towards Shylock. You can tell that Antonio and Shylock hate each other by looking at act 1, scene 3, line 39 where Shylock says ‘I hate him for he is Christian ‘. Lower down on the page he also says ‘He hates our sacred nation, and he
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This means that Portia does not care if he is as kind and well-behaved as a saint if he is black, she would never want to marry him. Once having read this it comes to mind that Portia is a bit snobby and is quite racist, which at that time was apparently acceptable, as she is obviously meant to be a good character.

Another negative point to this play is the way in which Shakespeare uses the stereotypes of the nationalities in the play, except the English. For example, he writes about the French as if they can not control themselves and that the County Palatine is not funny and that Portia would rather marry a skull than him, but he writes that the English baron was good-looking but couldn’t speak any language that Portia could understand. So that was the reason why Portia doesn’t want to marry the English baron. The modern audience does not like to see or hear something which could be insulting to their different relatives and friends from other nationalities that would be abused by this play.

Even though Shylock is subjected to a lot of racism through out the play, he can not justify his desire to kill Antonio just because he spat at him and called him names such as “misbeliever”, “dog” etc. I think that Shakespeare

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