Analysis of the Statue: The Racialization of Jewish People

The reinforcement of racialized ideas regarding the Jews during the Middle Ages is very evident in this carving of the Simon of Trent ritual murder. In the statue, as opposed to other paintings and artwork depicting the scene, one could argue that this version appears more violent. The restraints on Simon seem to be tighter, and the person holding his neck back with a cloth is gripping it in such a manner that Simon is depicted to have his neck twisted to the side, mouth agape all the while being drained of his blood. Perhaps, this is signifying the child gasping for air, maybe trying to scream in pain for being cut open as well. The men surrounding him also appear to be restraining other parts of his body in a violent manner, and the man standing up to the left appears to be holding more tools to poke and prod Simon’s body with. Continuing the racialized and stereotypical depictions of Jewish people, the men depicted to be torturing Simon have longer, hook-shaped noses: a definitive characteristic of antisemitic stereotypes. Further, their appearances are shown to be wrinkled, with drooping, saggier eyes than that of depictions of Christian people of the time as well, with hardened expressions on their faces showing no emotion, perhaps encapsulating the embodiment of no remorse for their actions. These are other common traits of antisemitic characteristics shown to depict Jews in a negative manner in art. This carving shows the viewer a clear image: a helpless, Christian child being tortured by greedy, bloodthirsty Jewish people who were responsible for Simon meeting his violent end. All of these details, when compiled together, provide evidence of the idea that Jews are violent, immoral people who only know how to cause great distress to those around them. It’s a damning piece, one that serves to cut deep into the Jewish community and reinforce the hatred towards Jewish people.