Venice had a very important role in the novel as the setting.
I previously mentioned the different symbolic aspects that appeared in the novel: just, libertine, incognito, mercantile, and rich. Each aspect had its own small role.
The smaller symbolisms of the five were just, libertine, and incognito. Venice the Just was symbolized a few times. The Papal edict forbade Jews from giving any medical treatment to Christians.enter
The Midwife of Venice, by Roberta Rich
Jews were only allowed to be merchants or moneylenders for Christians. Hannah had a moral dilemma though because she did not want to let a dying mother suffer. The other symbolisms of the just were the moments when Hannah was faced the threat of being turned to the magistrates as a witch because of her unauthorized birthing spoons. She would have had a fair trial, but all of the evidence was against her.
Jessica left the ghetto to convert to Christianity for her husband, whom she later divorced. She appeared in the ghetto one evening to talk to Hannah. Hannah did not recognize her at first because she was dressed like a boy and she was wearing a morello, a type of mask.
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The mysteriousness tricked Hannah, but Jessica revealed herself. She admitted to Hannah that she was now working as a courtesan, or a prostitute, which explained why she was dressed as a boy because some men were trying to avoid the sodomy laws. Jessica possessed many of the characteristics of Venice making her character very interesting and important to the plot.
Venice the Mercantile and the Rich were probably the most apparent symbolisms in the plot and the main reasons for the setting in Venice.
The Midwife of Venice
Part of the conflict in this novel was between the Christians and the Jews, as well as between the rich and the poor. Jews, especially those with medical occupations, were not allowed to provide their services to Christians. Jews were only allowed to interact with Christians as merchants and as moneylenders.
This caused a major conflict and morality issue for Hannah which surrounded the whole plot. Trade was very important however, and Isaac, towards the end of the novel, took silk worms with him that he could use to trade silk, and provide him and Hannah with money.
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Everyone in Venice wanted wealth, but only a select few such as the Conte and his family had it. They were considered nobles. Jacopo and Niccolo, his brothers used their rank to benefit themselves, and they did anything they had to, including an attempt to kill their nephew, to inherit their family estate. Although he was wealthy, he still desired more.
She sold herself as a courtesan for good money. Money and trade circulated throughout the novel and were the causes of all of conflicts and rivalries in the book. I thought this book was fantastic. The conflict started off right away and immediately pulled me into the story. Roberta Rich did an excellent job incorporating Venice and its characteristics into the plot.
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