Literature and history are major fields in which a multitude of scholars operate, and the lines between the two are often blurred since the latter provides plausible explanations of the former. This extended essay examines William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice from a historical perspective and assumes the existence of anti-Semitism in the play by casting light on Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. The discussion begins by addressing the concepts of otherness and anti-Semitism in addition to the tenets of the new historicist theory which is necessary to the next chapter that highlights a thorough depiction of Shylock and his characteristics. As this paper submits, the audience needs to reach a moral and rational stance and conclusion about Shylock the villain and man following his personality traits and Shakespeare’s portrayal.
Keywords: anti-Semitism, new historicist theory, Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Shylock