Hath not a Jew eyes?

May 9, 2006 at 11:31 am 5 comments

William Shakespeare

Listen (to the Mystery Cat read)

To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

A guest post from Mystery Cat. He writes, “Portia’s speech got me thinking about Merchant of Venice. In spite of fond memories of elocution contests in school, it’s not a play I was never very fond of. I never bought into the anit-Semitic theory butI found Shylock to be an unreasonably vindictive villain, something of a caricature. So it’s kind of sad that his mildly incoherent defence of vengeance doesn’t seem terribly unfamiliar today.”



Entry filed under: Black Mamba, English, Mystery Cat, William Shakespeare.

The Quality of Mercy is not Strain’d Falstaff’s ‘Honour’ Speech

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jordan  |  November 3, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    I don’t think this speech is a defence of revenge, really, I think it’s a cleverly concealed attack against antisemitism and prejudice in general. The Elizabethan audience wouldn’t accept a direct assault on something so ingrained in their society, so Shakespeare inserts it subtly, to try to make those who watch the play think. He is a caricature, given the situation at the time it was written, he had to be a caricature, but here Shakespeare gives him a brilliant, inspiring speech, and it seems far ahead of its time. I think it’s a wonderful part of the play, and one which deserved to be remembered and passed on, as it’s as relevant now as it was when it was written, sadly.

  • 2. Kandice  |  April 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I completely agree with Jordan’s comment.
    Shakespeare cleverly wrote that speech to appeal to the more liberal people of that time. However, I disagree with you on Shylock being caricature. He is the only “real” character in my opinion, in the entire play because if I were in his position I would’ve reacted the same way. I can understand Antonio’s character but cannot identify with it. I always thought that Shakespeare felt the need to end the play as he did because the audience wouldn’t have been pleased with a Jew prevailing. I admire Shakespeare for his honesty and bravery, in a time when prejudice had no opposition.

  • 3. nikita  |  July 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    nic speech…..

  • 4. David Ayton  |  August 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    But Shakespeare himself was anti-Semitic that’s why he made the character of Shylock come across to the audience as the villain when he so obviously the victim

  • 5. minecraft skins jocksteve  |  January 5, 2012 at 7:25 am

    An fascinating communication is worth account. I opine that you should write statesman on this matter, it strength not be a preconception bailiwick but generally fill are not sufficiency to utter on much topics. To the succeeding. Cheers like your Hath not a Jew eyes? pō’Ä­-trÄ“.


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