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The False Tragedy of Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – Part I

In “The False Tragedy of Shylock” the modern view of Shylock as a tragic hero is skillfully refuted and Shylock’s character and fate examined. Dr. White explains the play’s themes of the Old Testament idea of justice vs. the Christian idea of mercy and tackles the difficult subjects of usury and anti-Semitism fairly and from a truly Catholic viewpoint. He shows that Shylock, while not a good character, is not a two-dimensional, stereotypical scoundrel, but a rounded, lifelike villain with emotions and affections. Dr. White shows how deep his hate for Antonio runs, how the basis of his conflict is the bare fact of his being an outsider, not specifically that he is a Jew, and how he brings his fate upon himself by his demand for justice.

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