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Give an account of Shylock's character - Do you think he is a villain or a victim?

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Introduction

Give An Account Of Shylock's Character. Do You Think He Is A Villain Or A Victim? The Play is set in Venice, an ancient civic republic, In Elizabethan times Venice was seen as a place of luxury and great beauty it was also considered to be a trading centre of great importance, hospitable to people from all part's of the world including Christians and Jews however Venice was mainly Christian dominated. In the Elizabethan times the corruption of the Jewish religion was seen to be perfectly acceptable as Jews portrayed as inferior and marginalized because of their religion and Jews were often subjected to public humiliation as they were cursed and spat at as they walked down the street minding their own business. Jews were often forbidden to own land or engage in trade, one of the only occupations open to the Jews at that time was a money lender (usurer) which as we can see in the Merchant of Venice the Jews exploited this fully. At first I am not too impressed with Shylock, Shylock is a usurer who loans sums of money to people, however Shylock charges vast amounts of interest, Shylocks first line in the play is "Three thousand ducats" This can be taken into two contexts; as a man making a living at one of the very few occupations open to him, or a greedy cold materialistic man. ...read more.

Middle

when he does this he to disowns his daughter "She is damned for it" . Shylock is very angry so he decides to take his revenge by following through on his bond he does not let Antonio get a word in edgeways, Antonio pleads with him "hear me yet good Shylock" but Shylock does not want to hear it he just wants his bond "I'll have my bond, speak not against the bond" after many pleas from Antonio and Solanio had been turned down by Shylock it is finally taken to court. Justice and mercy are the two main points that are expressed by all parties in the trial Justice is what is seen to be right in the eyes of the law but mercy is what is sometimes shown by compassionate human eyes when you forgive someone for committing a wrongful act. At First not much justice is seen to be shown by the Duke towards Shylock as the Duke seem to show more mercy for Antonio as the Duke asks Shylock to forgive (show mercy) Antonio and take the ducats but Shylock responds defensively and aggressively to the Dukes plea for Shylock to relent "The world thinks and I think so too...." The duke is saying that the world as in the Christian world of Venice think that Shylock should show mercy to Antonio Shylock once again makes it clear that he will have noting but his bond ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that Shylock the Jew is a Victim in the merchant of Venice a "victim" is someone who is on the receiving end of abuse; this could be physical or verbal. The victim may or may not contribute to there victimization for example someone could be victimized for their physical appearance which they have no control over and have not contributed to, or someone could be victimized because of their actions which they have control over and have contributed to. Even though he is sometimes portrayed as a villainous materialistic man acting in villainous ways, I feel that he has been driven to this by the xenophobic Christians as he has been on the receiving end of their racial, verbal and physical abuse they have also mocked the way in which he earns a living even though it is one of the few occupations open to him. One of the most damaging actions committed by the Christians to Shylock is when they steal his daughter away from him and have her elope with a Christian Lorenzo. Not only are the Christians against Shylock the law is as well as Shylock is forced by the law to give up his money estate and most important of all his religion, In the end Shylock ends up with nothing at all. ...read more.

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