Figure 13: Essay Excerpt on The Monalistic Hypocrisy in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Hard to Understand.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “H” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

This Christian hypocrisy goes far deeper than what is implied in the play.  The Venetians dismissed Shylock, yes, but they also dismissed the very person and culture of him.  “In every culture there are persons who fear and dislike the continuing process of cultural interaction and change.  These persons are particularly found within the elite, because cultural interaction leads to changes that the elite cannot control” (Singer 50).  The elite usually doesn’t have much to do with changes out of their control.  They often tend to suppress even cultural development. Authority may cut selected pieces out of one’s cultural identity in order to bring one into conformity by determining what culture ought to be.  The Venetians follow the thought of relativism.  Relativism is where claims of universal human rights are rejected.  “A relativist provokes the question:  ‘Relative to what?’  What defines truth, values? . . .” (Singer 45).  When applying these concepts, one first thinks of culture.  Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice failed and ignored the cultural identity of Shylock and as a result, he followed in their footsteps, which is ironic, that they would judge him based on their own behavior.  This is what you call learning from example.  This ultimately cost him his personal relationship with his very personal faith.

Figure 13: Essay Excerpt on The Moralistic Hypocrisy in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Concluding Paragraph)


“Authority” is personified in this analysis. The student has given it human-like qualities. “Authority” is not a person. It is not similar to the role of a butcher who cuts meat. “Authority” cannot cut into the skin of one’s cultural identity. It is a concept. A concept cannot “cut.”

1) Does the play mention authority? Where and in what context?

2) How do the elite suppress cultural development?

3) What are the origins of “Relativism”? Who was the founder? What year was the concept established? Now what year was Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice published?

4) Can “relativism” be applied to Shakespeare’s period, time, or play?

5) How do we know that the Venetians follow the thought of “relativism?” What is a credible date in history that we can use to prove our stance?

6) In addition, was “culture” a popular term during Shakespeare’s period?

These are some of the questions you need to consider when revising the content of your essays and developing context-specific wording.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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