• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the ways Shakespeare presents Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explore the ways Shakespeare presents Shylock in The Merchant of Venice In The Merchant of Venice Shylock is the plays antagonist, he is the creator of many circumstances that arise during the play. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who earns his living by charging interest on money he loans (like modern banks). He often speaks prose in the play, which marks him out as an outsider. Shylock is persecuted by all the non-Jews he comes across in the play. He is verbally abused and bullied by most characters in the play and is called cruel names including "villain with a smiling cheek, cut-throat dog, bloody creditor, damned in execrable dog" Later on in the play Shylock tells Antonio, "suff'rance is the badge of all our tribe." We can see that Shylock is clearly an intelligent businessman as he is very astute and is aware of other people's concerns as he knows all about Antonio's business ventures. Shylock seems jovial in this first scene, before the Christians start to heap insults upon him. I believe that this scene may contain the only true indicator of Shylock's true demeanour, i.e. an agreeable businessman. This view is unfortunately shattered by the arrival of Antonio and his good credit rating. ...read more.

Middle

Would she were hears'd at my foot and the ducats in her coffin!" (III,i,88-90). The fact that Shylock wish's for his daughter to be dead, certainly withdraws a great deal of the sympathy that was created by the previous plea for the acknowledgment of his humanity. During the period of this outbreak, Shakespeare again portrays an image of an evil, murderous Jew who is willing to kill his own daughter for the sake of a few 'ducats'. Shylock seeks revenge against his enemies/betrayers, but it is also he who suffers the penalty after the Christians join to trick him. Possibly Shylock may have had more victory if he had worked at justice instead of revenge or perhaps it is the loss of Jessica as well as all the harsh treatment he has suffered from Antonio and others over the years that makes him bitter enough to ask for Antonio's pound of flesh. Christians alienate Shylock Christians alienate Shylock simply because he is a Jew. In ancient, medieval, and Renaissance times, Jews almost always encountered prejudice from non-Jews around them. Scholars are divided on whether Shakespeare, in The Merchant of Venice, was attempting condemn anti-Semitism by sympathizing with Shylock or approve of anti-Semitism by ridiculing Shylock. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the whole I feel that this point about the humanity of Shylock being portrayed in the play is a good one. Evidently, this crucial piece of speech that Shakespeare has added creates a level of compassion in the audience for Shylock. However, I don't feel that one short speech of eleven lines overshadows the far more dominate themes of Shylock's characterization in the play. Shylock is one of the most confusing characters in all Shakespeare plays. Playing the character of Shylock would be quite difficult as he is a very confusing character. One would not know how to act out his character due to the different angles at which Shakespeare has presented his character. I personally feel Shakespeare takes this stereotypical view of Shylock; further then necessary. Hence presenting Shylock as a very complicated character to play. In conclusion, I think Shylock is the villain in this play. The way in which Shakespeare presents this is how Shylock treats those he is closer with, for instance his relationship with his daughter Jessica corresponds to his evil character. Due to Shylock's lack of benevolence towards Antonio, both audience and reader automatically classify Shylock as the bad character. Shylock's need for revenge takes over all other parts of his life. Only Shakespeare really knows what he wanted the character 'Shylock' to be portrayed as. Amandeep Badesha ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. Discuss the Ways in Which the Themes of Love and Hate are Explored and ...

    When Solanio suggests that he may be in love he does not deny it more than to say "fie fie". In most Shakespearean plays, the main characters end up paired off towards the end. However, Antonio is never romantically involved with a lover at any point in the play.

  2. The Character of Shylock in a Merchant of Venice.

    shows even more deeply that he is outraged by his daughter stealing his money than her leaving him. The conversation is proven to be biased because Salarino says 'A kinder gentlemen treads not the Earth,' about Antonio but Salanio also says that 'he only loves the world for him,' which

  1. 'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a ...

    except it is questionable that may be she did know the ring has sentimentality and she traded it as a way to get back at her father for his miserable attitude. When Shylock finds out what she has done he says, "I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys."

  2. Examine how Shylock is presented in The Merchant of Venice.

    Throughout the play Shylock is represented by Shakespeare as the devil. Lancelot Gobbo identifies Shylock as "a kind of devil", "the devil himself" and "the very devil incarnation". Even Shylock's daughter, Jessica, says that Shylock's house is "hell". The Christian's also identify Shylock as a devil.

  1. Is 'The Merchant of Venice' a racist play?

    From the line, "that he would rather have Antonio's flesh than twenty times the value of the sum". This shows Shylock's eagerness of revenge on Antonio, who Shylock knew had been wronged by. Antonio knew that there was no way that Shylock would turn away from the bond.

  2. "The Merchant of Venice" was offered to Shakespeare's audience as a comedy. What problems ...

    The needs of the audiences have changed. Today we have different views towards racism. Rather than being prejudice we judge people on their actions. The only parts of the play that today's audiences could look at as comical are the scenes with Morocco and Arragon and when Portia and Nerissa torment their husbands in Act 5.

  1. By a careful consideration of the ways in which Shylock is presented, examine how ...

    It is deeply disturbing that Shylock requests for Antonio's flesh should he not be able to repay him. Shylock has a bloodthirsty need for Antonio to die painfully and so reveals to the play's reader a sadistic personality. Although the reader is already informed of Shylock's hatred, yet again it

  2. More sinned against, than sinning How far do you agree with this description of ...

    Furthermore, in Act 3 Scene 1 the audience sees Shylock?s speech, ?hath not a Jew eyes?. A plea for human recognition; through the use of rhetorical questions, repetition and tri-colon, Shakespeare is able to create an emotive and vindictive speech that allows Shakespeare to present to the audience a more lost and helpless Shylock, making the audience feel more sympathetic.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work