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How should shylock be regarded: as a victim, a villain or something else? With close reference to the text, consider the arguments for regarding Shylock sympathetically or unsympathetically.

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Introduction

How should shylock be regarded: as a victim, a villain or something else? With close reference to the text, consider the arguments for regarding Shylock sympathetically or unsympathetically. Shylock is one of the main protagonists in Shakespeare's 'The merchant of Venice'. He plays an important role in the story as it is he who first lends Antonio money and the story spiralled from there. Throughout the story there are many occasions where Shylocks actions make him seem to be a villain but there are also occasions where he seems to be a Victim. Shylocks character was wholly based upon a stereotypical Jew but this was not necessarily how Jews actually were. In the times when Shakespeare wrote this play there were not many Jews in England. This meant that Shakespeare would have had to of created Shylock from what others said Jewish people were like, from word of mouth. This helps to understand why shylock is mainly portrayed as a villain because in Shakespeare's times Jews did not have a very good reputation. England was a very Christian country and Jewish beliefs were thought to be wrong and were scorned upon. This is probably why Shylock was portrayed as the 'bad man', Shakespeare would probably not have known a Jewish person and so created the character on what Jews were rumoured to be like. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare deliberately makes Shylock seem to be the 'nasty character', he may have done this because he didn't like Jews and wanted to mock them but he also cleverly gives Shylock at least one none biased reason for hating Antonio. He looks at both sides of the culture clash and shows that Christians could be evil as well. This particular conspiracy was not the only plot shylock tried to use. In the court, as the situation was starting to look bleak for him, shylock tried to use blackmail to persuade the court onto his side. He did this by threatening to damage the name of Venice's justice system: "And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn To have the due and forfeit of my bond. If you deny it, let the danger light Upon your charter and your city's freedom." This is definitely blackmail, he is basically saying that if he didn't get what he wanted then he would tell many people outside Venice that it is corrupt and the law is worthless. This would have been a big problem for Venice as their trading would be affected and so it was a substantial threat. In the end the threat did not do Shylock any good as the lawyer representing Antonio was excellent and in the end the threats were forgotten as more serious claims were brought against Shylock. ...read more.

Conclusion

This then led to Shylock receiving none of his bond and other punishments. These punishments were very harsh, they were that firstly Shylock would have to give half of his wealth to Antonio, the other half had to be given to his daughter and Lancelot when Shylock died and the worst punishment of all was that he had to become a Christian. These punishments hit Shylock hard, his faith which he had devoted his life to had to be changed, he had to give his wealth to his enemy and to his daughter who betrayed him. I think that the punishments were a bit to harsh but I can also see that Shylock brought it upon himself. If he had not so relentlessly sought after getting Antonio then he probably would not have had any of the punishments. Overall I believe that Shylock is both a victim and a villain. He is more of a villain though, he would not have been a victim in any case if he had not been so stubborn, arrogant and unkind in the first place. In some places the Christians might have been unkind but in most Shylock brought what he got upon himself, it was his own doing. The punishments in all cases were very harsh but as said before he did bring it all upon himself. I believe that he got more than he deserved for what he did but cannot give him any sympathy because it was his own fault. ...read more.

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