Write an essay in which you analyze how this “othering” process functions in a particular scene. Explain precisely how it happens. Focus on the creation of national, religious, class, gender, or sexual identity. How does Shakespeare create a common religi

The process of imagining one’s own identity by “othering” is ubiquitous in human history. Faced with myriad human differences, a polyglot group of individuals casts marginalized figures as different in order to create unity in contrast to them. Typically, this process creates a power imbalance between the “in” group and the “others.” In “Shakespeare and the Jews” Shapiro argues that Elizabethan Christians imagined Jews as unmerciful “others” to quell anxieties about their own religious differences and identify as a unified, merciful “English” nation. By depicting Jews as radically different they sought a coherent “English” identity that would bind them to one another. The “othering” process works not only with regard to religious and national identity, but also with regard to other identity categories in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice: class, gender, and sexuality. Shakespeare addressed the human cost of the custom of “othering,” showing that it exacts a price from both the perpetrator and the victim.


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