The relationship between Shakespeare and the Jews is a multifaceted
one with an extensive history dating back to the Elizabethan era.
Attitudes to Jews in Shakespeare’s England comprise a complex topic with
religious, racial and cultural components that has been explored in detail
in James Shapiro’s seminal monograph Shakespeare and the Jews. Jewish
elements in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries extend
far beyond the infamous figure of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and
the history of critical and interpretative approaches to such elements is
extremely variegated, including shifting perceptions of Shylock on the
page and stage over the centuries, different ways of addressing Jewish
themes within the plays in writing and performance, and the representations
of Jews and Judaism in translations of Shakespeare into other
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