When it comes to Merchant of Venice， one of the four comedies written by William Shakespeare. The most impressive image might be Shylock， a mean Jew with miser feature. However， after checking relevant historical documents， I have some different view on the best known mean Shylock and the famous “Hath not a Jew eyes？” speech.
If you know something about the existence of anti-semitism at that background， you may understand the reason why Shylock was that mean and answer the question that why Jews used to practice usury. At the beginning of the film， there’s a brief introduction： Intolerance of the Jews was a fact of 16th Century life even in Venice， the most powerful and liberal city state in Europe. The Jews were forbidden to own property. So they practiced usury， the lending of money at interest. The Jews had no other ways of ng a living besides practicing usury. That special background explain Shylock’s miser feature.
The anti-semitism can be traced back to Christians slander upon Judaism. In medieval Europe， the Jews were accused of killing God. They were banished， persecuted and even massacred. So it is not strange that Shylock was deprived of his property and compelled to convert to Christianity became a happy ending and symbolized righteous.
年轻人巴萨尼奥（约瑟夫·费因斯 Joseph Fiennes饰）一心要向富商千金鲍西娅小姐（琳恩·柯林斯 Lynn Collins饰）求婚，为了这个愿望，他必须付出三千达克特，无奈中他只好向热心肠的商人安东尼奥（杰里米·艾恩斯 Jeremy Irons饰）借钱。碰巧的是，安东尼奥因为生意周转的问题，只能问犹太人夏洛克（阿尔·帕西诺 Al Pacino饰）借来这笔钱。 安东尼奥对犹太人历来抱有强烈的厌恶感，而夏洛克则提出了让人吃惊的要求：安东尼奥必须如期如数的归还这笔钱，否则，他将会切下安东尼奥身上的一磅肉。 巴萨尼奥终于如愿以偿的娶回了鲍西娅，安东尼奥却因为生意失败，在夏洛克的讨债中陷入困境。夏洛克还要趁这个机会，一雪安东尼奥对犹太人侮辱之耻。安东尼奥那一磅肉，看来非割不可了，聪明的鲍西娅却用绝妙一招，化险为夷。