ShylockWasComparativelyPositive Shylock Was Comparatively Positive YKTTW Discussion

Shylock Was Comparatively Positive
(permanent link) added: 2009-03-18 15:48:19 sponsor: Praetyre (last reply: 2009-03-18 15:48:19)

Add Tag:
Definitely Needs a Better Title. Probably a subtrope of Values Dissonance.

You've come across something that seems like a huge load of.. well, Values Dissonance. It seems laden with Unfortunate Implications, a Rose Tinted Narrative or a Historical Hero or Villain Upgrade.

Only, as it turns out.. it turned out it was comparatively fair for it's day. Maybe people complained the Historical Hero Upgrade or Historical Villain Upgrade was not giving enough credit to the hero or enough demonization to the villain. Maybe the portrayal of the subject of the Unfortunate Implications was comparatively kind. Maybe the Rose Tinted Narrative just wasn't rose tinted enough for it's day. Here, you have a case of Shylock Was Comparatively Positive.


  • Many people today regard the original telling of the tale of Shylock, the antagonist of The Merchant of Venice, as anti-semitic. As a matter of fact, in Shakespeare's day, far, far worse and dehumanizing portrayals of Jews were the norm. He didn't really want to write a "bad Jew gets his comeuppance" story, but market demands of the day more or less meant he had to.
  • Similarily, The Jew Of Malta was regarded as comparatively sophisticated for his time, despite the titular Jew, Barabbas (named for the Biblical figure of Barabbas, the thief and murderer pardoned by the Pharisees and locals in place of Jesus when Pontius Pilate gave them a choice of who was to be crucified) killing and betraying every character in the play.
  • The "What Makes The Red Man Red" song and sequence in the Disney adaptation of Peter Pan comes across as racist to today's audience. However, it was criticised in it's own day for portraying the Native Americans too positively.
  • The play Evita is accused of being a Rose Tinted Narrative of the days of Argentinian President Juan Peron and his wife, Eva Peron. However, it was criticised in Argentina for being too negative a portrayal of the late Peron and his wife.
Replies: 22