So Sir Michael Morpurgo is refusing to include The Merchant Of Venice in a new book adapting Shakespeare’s plays for children under 16 because the portrayal of Shylock is too offensive. See this link.
Well, let’s be honest, there are precious few Shakespeare’s works that won’t offend someone. Everything of his that I endured at school offended me simply because I couldn’t stand him! I wanted Chaucer. OK, there’s no accounting for it, and some grey cells are definitely from a different planet. Mine are clearly from some planet as yet undiscovered, because I still think Chaucer’s better.
So yes, Shylock is an unpleasant sterotype, but then many of the Bard’s characters are. Should we censor them all? Where do we draw the line? If we damn every shrewish woman in Shakespeare, that’s about half his works gone in a blink. He had a go at everyone and everything, and he wrote in Tudor times, for heaven’s sake. It’s a slippery slope if we start putting modern values on everything from the past.