The world of Christians is a very close society, which is very dependable on friendships. It has set rules for each member to follow. I will try to explore the world of the Christians and how they are portrayed in the play.
We can see from the start of the importance of money to the Christians:
” Antonio: Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea
Neither have I money, nor commodity.”
In this opening scene Antonio appears to feel sad. His friends Salerio and Solanio try to comfort him. One of the first comments that Antonio makes is the fact that he is not upset because of lack of money but because of love. The fact that the Christians expect the problem to be money gives us many messages about them. It shows that the main reason why the Christians are either happy or sad is money. Saying this Christians value their friends above anything. This is shown in the bond with Shylock.
In scene three of the first act we see the Christians presented as money orientated people.
We can see that the Christians appear to be anti Semitists:
” Shylock: You call me a misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use for of that which is mine own.
Well, then it appears you need my help: ”
This reveals of the hatred between the Christians and the Jews in Venice. Shylock shows the audience how badly the Christians, especially Antonio have treated him. This shows the Christians in a bad light. In Venice under the Venetians law Jews are only allowed to have one job. This job is money lending. So this illustrates the anti – Semitism the Venetians have. You could say that Antonio’s behaviour is a reflection of the Venetian society. So Antonio’s behaviour is similar to all people like him.
To see if this is true we must look at Antonio’s reaction to Shylock’s words. It is one of a man with no remorse:
” Antonio: I am as like to call thee so again,
To spet on thee again, to spurn the too.”
We can see here Antonio feels no remorse towards Shylock whatsoever. This certainly shows the Christians in a bad light.
In scene two of act two we see further Anti Semitism from the Christians:
“Bassanio: Shylock the master spoke with me this day,
And hath preferr’d thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service ”
In this scene we see the Christians wearing masks to try to avoid Shylock. It is a form of mocking him. This time Bassanio makes these comments. This shows that most of the Christian’s help these views about Jews.
Shylock does not agree with agree with the Christians lifestyle:
” Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varish’d faces ”
In this scene we see Shylock’s opinion towards the Christians. In this conversation Shylock is talking to his daughter Jessica. The reference he makes to ” varnish’d faces ” is the appearance of the Christians after drinking alcohol. Shylock clearly disagrees with the drinking of alcohol. The Christians make no secret of their fondness for it. This causes friction between the two groups.
In this case Christians are presented in a bad light again. They are viewed as the bad group due to their alcohol consumption.
Jessica shows little remorse towards her father:
” For I am asham’d of my exchange:
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see. ”
When Jessica robs her father of money she uses lame excuses to excuse her from this bad act. She says that love is blind. This clearly presents Christians in a bad light because after Jessica becomes a Christian she performs robbery. It seems to show the Christians giving vulnerable Jessica bad ideas. The Christians clearly have a lack of morals.
We also see Shylock feels bad towards the Christians:
” Shylock: I hate him for he is a Christian. ”
As we see the play develop we see that Shylock’s bond with Antonio gets more sinister. Shylock is offered a very fair price by Antonio, in fact he offers him twice the original bond but Shylock still does not accept. Shylock wants to kill Antonio. Here we see a sinister side of Shylock and for once the Christian’s appear as the victims. Shylock is a moneylender and therefore loves money. He obviously would rather hurt a Christian than receive the money.
Shylock has obvious bad feelings towards Christians, but is this because of the persecution that he encounters at the hands of the Christians each day. In this situation the Christian’s are portrayed as victims.
In act four scene one we see the Christians showing no mercy towards Shylock:
” Gratiano: And yet thy wealth being forfeit to the state
Thou hast not left the value of a cord,
Therefore thou must be hang’d at the state’s charge ”
During this scene Shylock has been stripped of all his wealth, his daughter and his religion. In the opinion of Shylock he has lost everything. At the hands of the Christian’s he has been stripped of all his belongings. The Christian’s show no remorse and force Shylock to become a Christian. This would have been very serious to a devout Jew like Shylock. Despite this Gratiano continues to mock him throughout the court scene.
The fact that Shylock has been wrecked at the hands of the Christian’s must make them appear bad. In fact this is not strictly true because this is only in reply to the pressure the Shylock has put Antonio under.
In the final scene we see the Christian’s in a much better mood:
“Lorenzo: The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, ”
After the upheaval of the bond and fears that Antonio’s ships have been lost at sea we see the Christian’s settle into what they appear to be. Fun loving peaceful individuals. Lorenzo and Jessica discuss lovers of the past. We can see this by the emotive, natural language used by Lorenzo. This shows the readers that perhaps the Christian’s are not so bad after all. This is also highlighted by Antonio’s language.