• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10

'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a complex character?'

Extracts from this document...


'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a complex character?' The merchant of Venice is about a Christian merchant called Antonio; he is well respected and highly thought of. His friend Bassanio needs some ducats and Antonio being the caring friend that he is, lends money from Shylock, a Jewish usurer. Antonio makes it clear to Bassanio that if he can't afford to pay him back, then he doesn't have to. Shylock has had abuse from Antonio and the other Christians, just because he was a Jewish usurer. Shylock is abused throughout the play for example he was spat on and called names, both examples of physical and verbal abuse. So, when Antonio is in need of money he goes to Shylock, we would've thought Shylock would be reluctant to help Antonio, but Shylock has an ulterior motive. He knew that Antonio had ships at sea and that if those ships sunk, Antonio would have no matter to pay back the loan. Shylock decides that if Antonio doesn't pay back the 3,000 ducats that he lends him in three months, and then he is entitled to one pound for Antonio's flesh. This will obviously kill Antonio. Antonio hates having to lend this money, but he is desperate to help his friend and Shylock knows that he is in a strong position. An audience of the time would at this point perceive Shylock as a callous Jew. However, an audience of today would understand Shylock's reason for vengeance. Shylock's Jewish daughter Jessica, runs away from her father to marry Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio. She steals some of her father's wealth consisting of ducats and jewels, which will obviously irritate Shylock because he will have thought he could trust his daughter. It will infuriate him more because she has run off with a Christian aswell, the ultimate insult to Shylock because even his daughter wants to be rid of him for good. ...read more.


So, would Shylock prefer the money back than his daughter? From what the audience at this point have seen so far, it seems quite apparent that Shylock values his money over his daughter and likes to make some fuss about his hardship. Still, is he always like this, would he tell anyone about his suffering? And does he always make such a huge fuss? Maybe he is so upset, he cannot help it but from this scene alone it isn't clear yet, what he would do. "A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, of double ducats" This quote highlights the point that he would much prefer the money to his daughters presence. When Shylock speaks to Tubal, a fellow Jew, Shylock confides in, what we think, his only friend. "Hast thou found my daughter?" this suggests he is concerned about his daughter, although he is probably just anxious to know where she is and if she is dead or alive. In addition to asking if his daughter has been found Shylock is says he would "Rather dead at my feet, and the jewels in her ear". This quote shows that despite being devastated because of losing money, he would prefer to know where his daughter was and that the stolen jewels hadn't been traded or spent. It also shows that Shylock wouldn't want the money back as it is tainted and 'dirty' money. As soon as Shylock hears that another of Antonio's ships will fail to return, he is "Glad of it" and his mood becomes happier because he knows that Antonio, that his revenge is soon to become a reality, or so he thinks. We notice that Shylock's hatred of Christians in general but particularly Antonio increases because Jessica wouldn't have been able to steal anything if Shylock had been around and if Bassanio hadn't invited Shylock for supper, they wouldn't have got away with any of Shylock's money. ...read more.


Shylock is told that he must convert to Christianity and give half his wealth to Antonio, and give the other half to Jessica when he passes away. Shakespeare doesn't give Shylock anything to say, therefore we don't know exactly, how he felt, but we can certainly assume he was devastated and that the tables have turned, yet again and the Christians now have the upper hand. This is Shylock's last scene in the play, and he is humiliated again. This shows that since his first scene he was ridiculed and humiliated by the Christians and he is right through to his exit. I believe that Shylock shouldn't have been treated the way he was because of the Christians holding a grudge between the two religions. Shylock was driven to revenge by the constant abuse and cruelty he suffered. Shylock's religion is the only justification Antonio has for any of the abuse he and his friends give Shylock. Shylock really wasn't the devil-like creature but was a victim of the prejudicial Christian society. The only thing he gained from his bond was a lot less than he had bargained for. We don't see Shylock trying to ignore the Christians; one example of this is that he agrees to go to Bassanio's for supper. In conclusion, I believe that Shakespeare wanted the audience of the time to realise that two different religions, could still unite and live in a society without religious inequality. He couldn't really voice his opinions too much through Shylock, as Shakespeare had to write what Christians would pay to see. I think that Shakespeare portrays his views in a very effective way, but how she shows the persecution of Shylock. Also, Shakespeare uses, how Shylock kept his anger inside, and gradually it built up, and inevitably he regretted seeking revenge on Antonio because he ended up, a lot worse off than he began. Shakespeare uses language to portray Shylock as a complex character and a stereotype and this is reflected upon by the audiences' opinion and views. ...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. Merchant of Venice - Comparing and Contrasting Antonio and Shylock

    and upset when people are prejudice towards him, but he is prejudice against Christians but seems to have no problems with this. It also demonstrates his great hatred of Antonio. The audience now sees Shylock in another light, a mean and villainous Jew. He thinks Antonio is a fawning publican.

  2. merchant of venice- shylock character analysis

    We can see shylocks further dislike towards Antonio and Christians because they helped his daughter run away. His daughter also stole many precious jewels and thousands of ducats from him. Shylock shows more consideration for his wealth rather than the well-being of his daughter Jessica.

  1. Imagine you're Antonio, write a diary form essay on what has happened, record the ...

    Although this is tinged with happiness for I am happy, that he is happy. 3rd September Days have passed and I have been struck with my ultimate low. My bond with Shylock has expired and my ships have not yet arrived, and judgement day has come.

  2. How Does Shakespeare Present The Character of Shylock

    But then occasionally we see a streak of a man who's lost the person he loved the most, his wife, and who's heart has hardened only by the hate shown towards him. From this manner of his, now Jessica, his only family member is ashamed of him; 'To be ashamed to be my fathers child.'

  1. How does Shakespeare present the character of Shylock in the play?

    such as " foot me as you spurn a stranger cur", and begins to insult him stating, "moneys is your suit". The calm tone is replaced with a rushed, less fluent speech. Shylock also uses dramatic irony relating to the way in which Antonio referred to him as a dog, saying "Hath a dog money?

  2. Shylock - Victim or Villain - What is your assessment of the presentation of ...

    this 'pound of flesh' clause was a premeditated conception, and not a whimsical jest. This scene projects Shylock as having a cool, calculating exterior that fully masks his inner feelings. Another point on how Shylock speaks, rather than what he says, is the fact Shylock speaks in prose.

  1. How Does Shakespeare Influence Audience Opinion Of Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

    He is very narrow and literal minded as we see in the way that he speaks. "Ho, no, no, no, no" and "there be land-rats and water-rats, land-thieves and water-thieves" It is significant that he used the term 'rats', because the Elizabethan's had strong views on the sense of order of being.

  2. How just is the outcome of the trial scene for Shylock in the Merchant ...

    the loss of his daughter and his wealth to a Christian hence influencing the way he expresses himself in the trial scene- hatred, fixity and literalness. On the other hand, his countless repetitions of the law and sticking to the very words of the bond make him sound very obsessive

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