chapter  7
20 Pages

The Merchant of Venice: ‘modern’ Anti-semitism and the Veil of Allegory

ByLisa Freinkel

What, if anything, does The Merchant of Venice have to do with the modern legacy of anti-Semitism? In a 1949 lecture delivered at Stratford-upon-Avon, Nevill Coghill formulated what was to become one of the standard post-Holocaust responses to the play. Merchant, he argued, offers an allegorical presentation of religious themes – of, in particular, the conflict between justice and mercy, between the Old Law and the New.