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Questions set on The Merchant of Venice

Due date: 27th February 2009


  • Students are to work in groups of five as per established groups
  • Each group has been assigned a specific Question/task. This is indicated at the very top of each question/task
  • Group-work procedure as set out in Handout #2, dated 15th January 2009 applies
  • One or two suggested web addresses and/references have been given. Please make full use of this in your information gathering part of the exercise.
  • Please see me as soon as you recognize a difficulty


Group 1

Write a ONE page report on “Present Day Instances of "anti-Semitism” For information check on line A D L's Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents at

Group 2

Research the word “ghetto”

  • (a) give definition
  • (b) origin of the word
  • (c) current connotations of the word. Say how this compares to the original definition.
  • (d) How does the current/contemporary concept of “ghetto” relate to The Merchant of Venice.

Group 3

Anti-Semitism exists in countries with virtually no Jewish population. Why do you think this is so?

  • (a) Grenada may not have instances of anti-Semitism but there may be prejudices and stereotyping[1]. Identify some local instances of prejudice or stereotyping,
  • (b) Give possible reasons for these and show how the victims were/are affected.
  • (c) List some ways through which we can prevent prejudice and stereotyping.

Group 4

In 1594, London was consumed with the high-profile trial of Roderigo Lopez, the Queen's physician. The interesting thing is he was a Jew. Also, in 1894 in France there was the Dreyfus Affair.

  • (a) Give a brief account of these two events (not more than a page)

  • (b) In what ways do they highlight the stereotypical[2] views which Europeans held at those times about Jews?

Group 5

  • (a) Define anti-Semitism
  • (b) What is the difference, if any, between “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Judaism”?
  • (c) What does the term 'Christ killer' have to do with Jews?

Group 6

Jews have been historically scapegoated during difficult economic times. Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice not long after the Bubonic plague had ravaged England.

  • (a) Write a brief account on the history of Jews in England during Shakespeare's time.
  • (b) Briefly relate how the Black Death impacted the plight of Jews living in England at that time.

Group 7

  • (a) Find out what is usury.
  • (b) How did the Elizabethans treat this practice?
  • (c) Especially, to what extent were the Jews responsible for the Europeans of Shakespeare's time attitude to usury and them?