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

In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype.

Extracts from this document...


Merchant of Venice - Coursework In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype. The merchant of Venice is a play written in Elizabethan times by William Shakespeare. The play is set in Elizabethan Venice. The play starts with Antonio, a rich merchant, who is depressed without any obvious reason. He denies that he is worried about his merchant ships or that he is in love. Antonio has lent money to his friend Bassanio in the past, but this time Bassanio wants to borrow some money so that he can try for the hand of Portia, who is a wealthy and beautiful heiress. In order to lend Bassanio the money, Antonio himself must borrow money as all of his moneys are on his merchant ships, which are trading to distant countries. Meanwhile, in Belmont, Portia is irritated. This is because of the terms laid down in her father's will. His will says that everyone who wishes to marry her must choose between a casket of gold, silver or lead. Portia must accept the man who chooses the "correct" casket. Also, the suitors must take an oath never to marry if they fail in this contest. Half a dozen totally unsuitable young men leave rather than taking their chances. The next candidate up to choose a casket is the prince of Morocco. Back in Venice, Bassanio has approached a wealthy Jew named Shylock. Shylock is a money lender, who lends money in return for interest and at this time Christians were not allowed to do this. Shylock and Antonio were already enemies. Each of them hates the other person and what they stand for. Antonio admits that he has spat on Shylock "to spit on thee again". ...read more.


He uses many different techniques in this speech to try and make the audience feel sympathy towards him. He uses examples of Antonio being nasty to him personally, or to other Jews, he tries to make it out that Jews are treated as second - class citizens. He uses Sarcasm and Repetition also. Shylock is basically saying in this speech that he and all of his fellow Jews are mistreated. He refers to himself and his fellow Jews as a "tribe" to further emphasise their outsider status. He uses plenty of Repetition on words such as "You" and "Me" to emphasise his view that he is in the right and Antonio is in the wrong. An actor would place emphasis on these words to portray this view. For instance, in the phrase "you call me misbeliever," the actor would extend the words "you" and "me" and possibly say them a bit louder to victimise Shylock and criminalise Antonio. Shylock even manages to recall an incident in which Antonio was nasty to him, he says "fair sir you spat on me Wednesday last". Here, he is poking fun at Antonio whilst victimising himself at the same time. Also, "fair sir" would be said sarcastically. He is constantly attacking Antonio all the way through the speech. He twists around what Antonio has said about him and throws it back into his face. For instance he says "You call me misbeliever, cut throat dog" and later on in the speech he says, "Hath dog money". Shakespeare also uses a lot of rhetorical questions in Shylock's speeches; they help to emphasise the pain that Shylock feels. This speech would make the audience feel a great deal of sympathy for Shylock, not only has he been mistreated, but so have all of his Jewish "tribe". They have been spat on, spurned and called "dogs". Any audience would feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for Shylock. ...read more.


At this time the audience would be dumbfounded, they can see that the clerk is in fact Portia in disguise, but none of the other characters seem to have noticed. Shylock would be confident at this point still, but growing impatient, as he wants to kill Antonio. This is when the court suddenly turns against Shylock, as Antonio is stripped to the waist and Shylock is about to cut, Portia points out that he is not to spill one drop of blood, and that he is to take exactly a pound of flesh, no more, no less. The forfeit for this will be death. Portia then points out that Shylock has indeed tried to kill a Venetian citizen, directly or indirectly, but he has still tried, for which the forfeit is one half of his goods to the intended victim and the other half going to the state. The Duke spares his life but Antonio is then to finish him off by commanding that he become a Christian. At this point Shylock is suddenly a broken man, he has gone from slavemaster to slave in a matter of seconds. An actor would be broken, on the floor, sobbing, unable to move, he must fully portray the hurt that comes with losing everything that you have except for life. This is when the actor must portray Shylock as a broken man, not as a devil. The Audience would be cheering, as they would now have no sympathy for Shylock whatsoever, they have seen him try to kill Antonio and he has lost. In Conclusion, Shakespeare is trying to portray Shylock as a human being who has lost everything. Shylock is a man who has lost his daughter, his money and his pride. Shakespeare Portrays him as both villainous and humane. Shakespeare shows us that every man has the willingness to kill. Shakespeare gives us unmistakably human moments, but he often steers us against Shylock as well, painting him as a miserly, cruel, and prosaic figure. Robert Matthews ...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

    Shylock is envious and angry with Antonio. His life is perfect. He has friends, money and respect. Shylock has none of these things. His envy and anger is pointed at Antonio. However, shylock has the power to ruin Antonio's world and he does not want to give this power up.

  2. Explore the presentation of Shylock in Act 1 Scene 3: Ehat are your first ...

    Shylock also explains that his hatred for Antonio comes from the fact that he lends out money without interest, which reflects badly on Shylock. Shylock's desire for revenge comes to the fore. Here he is showing his villainous character. Shakespeare shows irony in Shylock's "kindness" and "merrysport" the words that

  1. Shylock is a tragic figure, trapped by prejudice and driven to revenge by the ...

    This will immediately help the audience to sympathise with Shylock as they digest his speech. Then, just as he has the audience thinking that he is a nice person, who is just a victim of religious discrimination, he says "A diamond cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfurt!

  2. How does Shakespeare reveal Shylock to us in Act III Scene 1, what impressions ...

    must 'look to his bond' making him sound menacing and calculating, he then delivers one of Shakespeare's most famous speeches; 'Hath not a Jew eyes?' This speech more or less outlines the fact that he is intent upon revenge, a matter which in Elizabethan times was dangerous territory, as taking revenge was sinful, only God revenges, not the people.

  1. Act 4 Scene 1 is the dramatic climax to the play. Analyse how Shakespeare ...

    When Portia first enters she's the only one who speaks to Shylock with respect and uses You and Your which helped lure him in to a false sense of security. After she tells him about not shedding any blood her language changes and her words become more disrespectful 'Tarry Jew.'

  2. Merchant of Venice. Act 1 scene 3, act 2 scene 5. ...

    This cunning is also typical of the view of Jewish people in the 16th century and that they would use any opportunity to ruin a Christian. As he calculates the interest on Bassanio's loan, Shylock remembers the many times that Antonio has called him a '' misbeliever, cut throat dog/ and spit upon his Jewish gaberdine.''

  1. How does Shakespeare portray character and relationships in Act 1 Scene 3 of 'The ...

    asks his friend to tell him of the lady to whom he has sworn "a secret pilgrimage"(line 120). This shows that they can talk about things to each other that they would not with anyone else, which conveys their special bond.

  2. In 'The Merchant of Venice' in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is described as ...

    (Act 4 Scene 1) Shylock uses antithesis to show that he wants his bond. He is saying that he will not take the money but he will have his bond. Shylock is not a victim here, but the villain. When Shylock is asked to give a reason as to why

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