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How The Character Of Shylock From "The Merchant Of Venice" Is Presented To The Audience In Scenes 1.3, 3.1 and 4.1

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Introduction

How The Character Of Shylock From "The Merchant Of Venice" Is Presented To The Audience In Scenes 1.3, 3.1 and 4.1 Over the years, Shylock has been portrayed in many ways, for instance, in the Elizabethan time, Jews were seen as the cause of Christ's death and were known moneylenders so they were persecuted, so Shylock normally came on stage wearing a bright red wig and portrayed as a comic villain due to this he was always mocked. However, after the holocaust was brought to light, Jews were taken more seriously and were treated with more respect than they were previously shown so when Shylock appeared on stage, he was treated fairly and was not mocked as he had been in previous versions of the play. Shylock is one of the main characters in the play. He is a Jew who is treated very badly by all Christians and wants revenge so when Antonio goes to Shylock for money, Shylock tries to make a deal which would give him the chance to kill Antonio the christian if the money is not repayed. This shows Shylock to be the villain but as we go through the play, we hear of how Shylock has been treated and we start to feel sympathetic towards him as we hear how he has been a victim of racial prejudice. ...read more.

Middle

The audience would be shocked by this proposition and would feel sympathy toward Antonio and not want him to take the deal. At the end of the scene, when Shylock exits, Antonio say "Hie thee gentle Jew. This Hebrew will turn Christian, he grows kind. This is ironic, as Antonio does not actually think that Shylock is gentile after the bond that they have just sealed. Act 3 Scene 1 is a very short scene but it is significant so it is hard for shakespeare to try and manipulate the audiences feeling by presenting the characters in different ways but it is needed for our understanding of the play, the most important part of the scene is when; Shylock accuses Solanio and Salerio of knowing about his daughter's elopement with a Christian and the theft of his money, "You know, none so well...of my daughter's flight" (line 23). This is where Shylock becomes more of human character with feelings and emotions and not just the humiliated villain, but a more complex character. The audience would feel a little sympathy for him at this moment because he has lost his daughter. He tries to say to Salerio and Solanio that he is also a human and not different to everyone else just because of his religion, "I am a Jew. ...read more.

Conclusion

They call him "Jew" in the play and they only use his real name a few times. In Elizabethan times the prejudice shown to Shylock in the play would be perfectly normal because Jews were banned in England since 1290 and were seen as evil people. Nowadays we are shocked at the prejudice because we are living after the holocaust when Hitler attempted to wipe out the whole Jewish race and now everyone has a degree of sympathy for Jews. The anti-Semitism shown in the play would be seen as comedy in the Elizabethan period. Shakespeare's play was so successful because Queen Elizabeth's doctor was executed for high treason in 1954. He was a Jew. Shylock has been seen as both the victim and the villain of the play. A victim because he loses all his money and has to change his religion at the end of the trial scene. Also he is the victim of lots of prejudice from the Christians like them spitting on him and calling him names. But in conclusion I think that ultimately Shylock is a villain. The way he treats those close to him, for example his daughter Jessica exposes his evil character. He lets his need for vengeance engulf all other aspects of his life and his complete lack of mercy towards Antonio, renders him as a villain in the eyes of the audience ...read more.

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