"Reinforcing the Dominant Discourse in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice."
Controversy has surrounded The Merchant of Venice. Although some critics believe the play is not anti-Semitic, the present study shows that Shakespeare could not go against the current of Elizabethan anti-Semitism. The play reinforced the dominant discourses and stereotypes working against the Jews. Few Shakespearean characters are more hotly debated than Shylock, the Jewish usurer in The Merchant. Although he has a relatively small part, this multifaceted and influential character governs the play and his multidimensional nature complicates the work significantly. The play depicts him as a cruel, crafty and wicked Jew just as Elizabethan Christians would demand. The playwright takes the stereotype character presented to him and makes it more complex, but he leaves its anti-Semitic qualities untouched. The Merchant of Venice represents and reinforces the dominant discourses of law, religion and nationality that support the Christians and work against the Jews. As a comedy, it made the audience identify with the winners of the trial scene, the Christians. Therefore, nothing remains of the resisting voices and what is heard more often and more powerfully is the dominant discourse of the time voiced by the winners of the play. Shakespeare made a clear distinction between “self” and “other,” did whatever at his disposal to defeat “the others” of the play, deprived them of genuine identity and form a homogenised community where no resisting voice could be heard.