Breaking from the bonds of prejudice
In Comparison –
“The Merchant of Venice”
Shylock has been holding onto his horses about his being ostracized, particularly by Antonio. Not only of his being a Jew, but likewise on his trade as a money lender, as Shylock has been adjudged to be a usurer. The prejudice that Shylock withstands is shackle he has been finding a way to get out of. “The Merchant of Venice” unfolds Shylock’s opportunity to break free in a most wily incident. Guaranteeing the most desperate need for a loan of his friend, Bessanio, Antonio’s agreed to the terms of Shylock – that is, no interest but if the loan does not get to be paid, Shylock gets a pound of Antonio’s flesh. With the confidence of the arrival of his trade ships, Antonio knows that the term sought by Shylock will not come to pass.
But the trade ships met mishaps. The loan cannot be paid and Shylock goes to the Venetian court to collect Antonio’s pound of flesh. Portia, the lady Bessanio is besotted to that caused him to be in need of money to pursue courtship, went to Venice disguised as a man to lawyer in behalf of Antonio to save his life. Portia argued to the judge that Shylock can collect his terms if and only no blood shall drip for the terms of the loan does not include Antonio’s blood but only flesh. The judge’s decision went in favor of Antonio and Shylock was ordered to convert to Christianity.
What Shylock thought as a way to prove the prejudice of Antonio wrong, is a misguided method of proving his righteousness as a human being that can share equal rights and respect in a society. Indeed, the Jews as a race have been more than proven to have experience unsavory and detestable prejudices in all of history. However, it eventually comes to pass that Shylock was not really seeking an emancipation from the bondage of prejudice, but he was seeking revenge on the prejudicial treatment of the likes of Antonio. As one of the philosophers of enlightenment, David Hume has been studied to have conceptualized that “the dispersal of the Jewish people and their climatic conditions may have had a singular influence on their character that would have nothing in common with the people amongst whom they lived….” (Morton 2002).
In dire need to be emancipated from the most traumatic discrimination in his life, Troy Maxson perpetually all throughout the story of “Fences” was in struggle – with himself, his family, his job, his society.
He has emulated himself to hardwork and idealism, even his family nurtured patience, perseverance and love to sustain their desire to become part of a less benign society towards them being black.
From Troy’s rejection as a player in the major leagues, he carried that pain and trauma to the detriment of his relationship with Rose, his wife. He cheated on her. Troy was at odds with his son, Cory. He defies Cory’s dream to pursue scholarship by playing college football. Cory left them. Troy belittles his son Lyons’s dream of being a jazz musician. Lyon perpetually became dependent on him for money.
Troy and his family therefore imminently clashed on how they unanimously achieve their rightful place in society. Troy insists on such right by being bitter. Rose tried very hard to assuage Troy’s anger by her patience and spirituality. What she gets in return is to take care of Raynell, an illegitimate child of Troy, whose mother Alberta, died giving birth her.
The symbol of the unifying object that keeps the relationship in the family of Troy Maxson is the fence that has to be completed in the backyard of their home. The dragging attitude of Troy and Lyons in completing it is the palpable defiance that exists between the father and son. Rose was left with simply nudging and motivating them and begging them to finish the fence.
It is only the death of Troy that finally, rhetorically, metaphorically finished the fence, united them further in their love as a family and emancipated them from the bondage of the prejudice that they have been traumatized because of the bitterness of Troy Maxson
In Contrast –
Written 390 years apart, the condition of society that Shylock of Venice and Maxson of Fences lived in and lived with are totally different. Yes, there has been the long standing prejudice and discrimination that minimalized and ostracized minorities – but better laws and environment have evolved through those many years.
Shylock’s perception and intention to break the bonds of prejudice is through revenge. He thought that by getting a pound of Antonio’s flesh will serve him right and that hopefully the rest of the people in Venice will keep off from antagonizing Shylock. Shylock has ill will because from the onset he was hoping that the trade ships of Antonio do not make it into Venice that will disable Antonio to fulfill his terms of the loan. Shylock’s method of emancipation is negative.
The commendable circumstance in the pursuit of Troy Maxson in Fences to be emancipated from the trauma of his discrimination is that he is blessed with a patient and loving wife, Rose. Even if it is not the society in general that gave Troy a break from the bondage of prejudice, it is the very humane and positive outlook in life of Rose that saves him.
Troy’s outlook towards freedom from discrimination was treated with remorse and bitterness. Such negative method did not bode him well. He died an unhappy man.
Shakespeare, William. “Merchant of Venice”. 1596.
The Literature Network.
Wilson, August. “Fences”. 1 June 1986
Morton, Eric (2002). “Race And Racism In The Works Of David Hume.”
Journal on African Philosophy: 1, 1