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

From the study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience?

Extracts from this document...


From the study of 'The Merchant of Venice' is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience? The play is set in the late 15th century and is mainly about the character of shylock a money lending Jew; he is trying to live a simplistic life as a simplistic character in Venice a country that would have despised and alienated Jewish people. Christians very much believed in their religion/faith and would have disliked any Jewish person. Therefore the original audience would have hated shylock because of his religious beliefs and his job of money lending, as Christians wouldn't have been able to this job, as it would disagree with their belief. Shakespeare captured the way Jews were portrayed in this play well and managed to display it in a certain way, which wouldn't offend, but captured both sympathy and understanding from the audience at the time. Shakespeare play would be looked at in a very different way in a modern performance as the audience wouldn't discriminate towards Jews/ shylock as Christians are taught differently to when the play was originally written and children would have learnt about different religions and cultures and could cope with a Jewish character. Shylock's first appearance in the play is in act 1 scene 3 and his first line is; " Three thousand ducats", this could be taken by audiences in two ways, as a Jewish man making his living and deciding on a lending. ...read more.


He also mentions the way he has been bullied and picked on by the Christians and Antonio. "Laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains" this is a key quote from shylock which explains how he has been treated, this would make the audience feel sympathetic toward shylock and judge Christians on the way they have been treating another person. However shylock would make an audience feel even more sympathetic with his famous plea for equality, "I am a Jew, hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons!" shylock is trying to say that they are the same as one another and the only difference is their religions and the beliefs that are involved with the following of them. Shylock would be known as a victim in this scene because Shakespeare uses comparisons of a Jew to the devil, "unless the devil himself turned Jew", shylock also uses repetition of the word "there" in this scene to show the persons position and shylock seems to be annoyed that there is no news from his daughter. However he turns into more of a villain later on in the scene when he talks about his daughter In a very different way, he starts to become more selfish and even says he would like her dead, "I would my daughter were dead at my foot" he now cares more about his ...read more.


The one thing that Shylock cares for more than anything will now be taken from him if he takes his justified revenge. The tables are now turned, with Venetian law saying that a penalty must be paid by an alien attempting to murder a Venetian. Still Shylock is classed as an alien in his home. Shylocks possessions are confiscated because of the attempted murder of Antonio. Antonio now makes two conditions for his life: firstly he must become Christian, and, secondly, he must make a will leaving all of his possessions to Jessica and Lorenzo. So without his revenge, wealth, and his daughter, now he is alienated from his fellow Jews. Ironically he is left alone with nothing but what ruined him; his new found Christianity. My view of shylock in this play is that he is a sly character that can be portrayed as both a villain and a victim. He comes across in many different ways during the play and uses various types of language. He is seen as a villain in most parts of the play and those of which he isn't he is reversed later on referring to them and being villainous towards them. In the time the play was written the audience would have seen him as a villain no matter what he was doing as they would of disapproved of his religion and beliefs. In modern day performances audiences would not label him as a villain until the end of the play when his true villainous side is revealed. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

A detailed description of the experiment with good use of specific and precise biological terminology throughout.

Marked by teacher Adam Roberts 10/05/2013

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. Explore the presentation of Shylock in Act 1 Scene 3: Ehat are your first ...

    Shylock doesn't really mean, but grudges because if Antonio cannot repay the loan, he must forfeit a pound of his flesh showing tension in the audience because of the thought of Antonio not being able to pay the loan in three months.


    They were considered the villain in many around the time, and were always the stereotypical old man who was mean, selfish and money-obsessed. Before being expelled from the country, the Jews were already banned from numerous professions. Many were money-lenders, since they could legally charge interest in lending money whereas the Christians couldn't.

  1. Merchant of Venice - Comparing and Contrasting Antonio and Shylock

    still wants Bassanio to go and seek his love even though it will break Antonio's heart to see him leave. He knows that his friend's happiness is more important than his own. Shylock appears for the first time in the play in Scene 3, Act 1.

  2. What importance does money assume in The Merchant of Venice?

    This proves that the love of money results in lost of values in a society. Also, in Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare employed the various characters' use of money (their actions) to reflect and portray their personality. With Shylock, he is the play's antagonist, is mean and greedy, and will neither render money nor mercy freely.

  1. The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of ...

    She disguises herself as a lawyer and defends Antonio's case skilfully and legally by producing statutes, which not only stops Shylock from proceeding with the case but also Shylock is defeated, he becomes vulnerable to death penalty for conspiring against Antonio's life.

  2. Shylock is a tragic figure, trapped by prejudice and driven to revenge by the ...

    "I hate him for he is a Christian" and "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him" These are two examples of his wickedness in Antonio's presence. We must also remember that he has not yet been provoked by

  1. "Is 'The Merchant of Venice 'a tragedy for Shylock and a comedy for all ...

    This shows the true nature of his evil glee. When Shylock looses his money, he says: 'O my ducats! O my daughter fled with a Christian, my Christian Ducats!'(IIi) Shylock moans when he discovers that Jessica and Lancelot have stolen his money and jewels. He weeps more for his money than his own daughter.

  2. Does Shylock deserve the treatment he receives at the end of The Merchant of ...

    certain loathing I bear Antonio," (Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 59-61)to accept no money or reason to prevent him taking out his revenge. I also believe that Shylock is quite enjoying the fact that he is now in a position of such power, with the Christians begging him to show mercy.

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