Shakespeare was and wasn'tFollowing gleaning is off the website of Virginia Commonwealth University
The Ancient Grudge: The Merchant of Venice and Shylock’s Christian Problem
Shakespeare was not an anti-Semite like Antonio and Gratiano nor a racist like Portia and Brabantio nor a sociopath like Richard III nor cynical like Jaques nor disdainful like Coriolanus nor craven like Parolles nor forlorn like Juliet nor jealously green-eyed like Leontes nor hypocritical like Angelo. He may have been all of these or none of these, or much more or much less in the creation of 250 three-dimensional characters. One thing, however, is certain: he was subdued to his art, “like the dyer’s hand.”
“We all like to think of the Bard as our own. For homosexuals he is undoubtedly one of themselves; soldiers with a taste for scholarship are quite certain he must have been in the army; men of the law point to his remarkable knowledge of their mysteries; aesthetes like Lytton Strachey to what they think of as his later indifference to everything but poetics and style....Persons of faith know him for a devout Christian, while for unbelievers he was a dedicated atheist. It is not difficult to find what appears to be good evidence for each and every one of these Shakespeares.” (Bayley 2000, p. 35)
He was the pre-eminent master of representing the world as he, the master artist, saw it, as no one else before or after him could possibly see it always holding his celebrated mirror of truth not only up to nature, but to the nature of humanity and community. It is a mirror into which we must always be willing to look, and “look again,” even when it hurts, for the sake of our own humanity.