Jews in London

Jews in London - Heather Schepers ENG315 Delmonico The...

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Heather Schepers ENG315 Delmonico The Stage Treatment of Jews in Elizabethan England According to the Riverside Shakespeare, Jews had been banished from England three centuries prior to Shakespeare’s work, therefore the religious practices of the Jews appear enshrouded in mystery and suspicion. At the time, many works on Jews contained huge errors, but Shakespeare seems to use his lack of knowledge to make the Jew, Shylock, seem more pagan. Also, many of the injustices to Jews were used as comical references and petty reasons for revenge. Although, the actions of the Jew, and the consequences he faces in all three plays show that the Jews are no worse as a group than the Christians, especially considering their situations. Therefore, to create a satisfying end, Shakespeare shows that the Jew is destroyed and, at least publicly, he is apparently heroically changed into a Christian. The errors in the plays may have been the result of the exile of the Jews from England, since the few that remained hid their faith and race, or were highly learned, such as the Queen’s Jewish doctor, Roderigo Lopez (284). One of the most glaring mistakes about Judaism in the surviving Elizabethan plays is Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London . In this play, the Jewish usurer Gerontus mistakenly references “Mahomet” the Islamic prophet. This particular mistake is apparently very common in the Elizabethan period (The Merchant of Venice: Longman Cultural Edition ). In Marlowe’s play, Barabas, the Jew, claimed that he was “zealous in the Jewish faith,” by refusing charity to the poor, coveting goods, and pursuing as much wealth as the richest Jews in Malta. The acts he
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENG 315 taught by Professor Delmonico during the Summer '00 term at Truman State.

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Jews in London - Heather Schepers ENG315 Delmonico The...

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