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

How should we best understand Shylock- villain or victim?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

MERCHANT OF VENICE ESSAY QUESTION: - How should we best understand Shylock- villain or victim? The Merchant of Venice, a tragic- comedy written in the late 16th century by the greatest known English author, William Shakespeare. This is a tale set in the heart of Venice, amongst the Venetian Christians and Jews. The history of the Jews is marked by terrible hardship and atrocities; Jewish people kept up their customs and religion formed tight knit communities and became known for their intelligent hard work and business expertise. These qualities sometimes led to them being mistrusted and resented in the community of Venice in those times. This was especially the case in Christian countries, where there were strong anti- Semitic feelings. The greatest suffering for the Jews was endured during the Nazi domination of Europe during the Second World War and some time before. Six million Jews lost their lives during this terrible time; a period of history known as the Holocaust. This appalling cruelty began with the casual everyday racism, which Shylock also has to endure from the Christians of Venice. Due to the terrible atrocities Jewish people suffered during World War Two and centuries of persecution before that, modern-day pragmatics are very sensitive to language usage that perpetuates the construction of Jewish identity that could incite anti- Semitism; hence Shylock's problematic place in literary history as a villain or victim. Shylock is one of the most confusing characters in all of Shakespeare's plays. ...read more.

Middle

O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!' Is Shylock more worried about his daughter or more worried about his ducats? If you were biased then you would most probably say that Shylock is more anxious about his money; mostly because he is associated with being money-hungry and villainous man, even so, in the quote Shylock cries out 'My daughter!' at the beginning of the quote and even at the end finishes with 'and my daughter!,' so from and unbiased point of view Shylock could be grieving over the loss of his daughter to a Christian, and although he is disappointed about his jewels, his is going through mixed emotions, and therefore bringing it back to the point that he might just want Antonio's flesh not only because he is a Christian, but also to revenge the fact that his daughter ran away with a Christian; Shylock as we know in the play, acts appallingly to Christians because he is at war with them, which makes him look like a villain however after all opponents/ enemies always believe that other is obnoxious. Characters in the play which portray Shylock as a villain are most unquestionably the Christians. Shylock is made to sound like a complete criminal in the 'court scene,' where he is addressed as a convicted scandal (when it should be Antonio in trial), only because he wants what he right fully deserves in the bond drawn up with Antonio; what is the reason for this? ...read more.

Conclusion

The loss of his wife; his daughter running away; his precious jewels being stolen, and an outcast of the society; over and over again he seems to endure a new type of persecution; as one problem passes another seems to comes along - just like the weather it is completely unpredictable, and it is unknown how much damage it will do, but it is known fact that it will always leave a scar, which makes Shylock the person he is- a destroyed cold hearted man. Considering all the points above, and keeping in acknowledgment that the book was written almost five centuries back, I would say that Shylock wasn't a villain, but a victim who was forced to have some villainous qualities to survive in the 'game' of life. To be able to judge Shylock you have to be very open-minded; his individuality is what makes him the person he is- you cannot judge him unless you put yourself in his shoes and try to understand what it must feel like day after day to endure what he had to, and yet still there will be many questions left unanswered. Shylock exhibits qualities of both a villain and victim, but I myself cannot say he is one over the other. I believe a person does everything for a specific reason, which is somehow related to past motives, surroundings, people and this can be said for Shylock, therefore Shylock is neither villain nor victim, or he is both victim and villain. ...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. Peer reviewed

    Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    3 star(s)

    Antonio would not have to pay interest but if he failed to pay the money on time Shylock would be entitled to one pound of Antonio's head. This shows the amount of hatred Shylock has for Antonio. Shylock shows his malice and the desire he has to kill Antonio when he presents this "bond" to Antonio.

  2. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    In the courtroom it is clearly shown by Shylock that he wants to punish Antonio by stating he will take a "pound of flesh" from him. Shylock is offered 6000 ducats to take but Shylock's stubbornness takes control as it seems nothing that is said will change his mind, this

  1. Explore the conflicting responses, which the character of Shylock provokes in the audience. How ...

    Moreover, Antonio is a gentleman and is seen as the hero of the play; therefore, his enemy - Shylock - must be the villain, particularly if he has a hold over Antonio that could threaten his life. Act 3 Scene 1 is a very instrumental part of the play when answering the question; is Shylock a victim or a villain?

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

    Tubal informs Shylock that his daughter has traded the ring "Thou tortuest me, Tubal, I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys" This shows the sentimentality of the ring and her Shylock feels about his wife. The audience should feel sympathetic towards Shylock as, not only has

  1. The Merchant of Venice Coursework Essay - Shylock; Victim or Villain

    He says repeatedly, "Let him look to his bond.". When Shylock can stand it no longer, he makes one of the most famous speeches in the entire play, beginning "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?" It is a speech that, to an Elizabethan audience, would have been years ahead of its time, looking at racism from an almost modern perspective.

  2. Shylock - Victim of Villain?

    You that did void your rheum upon my beard, And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur...' Act 1 Sc 3 ll. 106-113 In fact, Antonio confirms what he had done and replies that he would do the same thing again.

  1. Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    treats his servants, and the way he treats his daughter as a slave, instead of a daughter. This is shown when he refers to her as "My Jessica!" which suggests to the audience that he is impatient with her, as well as does not treat her correctly, and regards her as a possession.

  2. In the Elizabethan period it was a literary traditionthat Jews were portrayed in a ...

    Shylock feels that his profession is a respectable and honest one, while the Christians argue that it's a sin. In Shylock's first scene (1:3) he refers to two stories from the Book of Genesis in which Jacob tricks people (his own brother in the first story)

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