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World

Shylock and the Nazis: the truth about Shakespeare’s most infamous character

23 April 2024

3:30 PM

23 April 2024

3:30 PM

None of William Shakespeare’s characters are more controversial than Shylock. The moneylender from The Merchant of Venice may be the most famous Jew in Western culture other than Jesus. But what kind of Jew is he? Is he a collage of stereotypes who has been useful to antisemites, including the Nazis? Or does he represent the Jew as cruelly vilified, a tragic victim of persecution?

Shakespeare, who was born 460 years ago today, could never have envisaged the way in which the events of the 20th century would change the way we look at Shylock.

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