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

In Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" discuss whether Shylock is a villain or victim of the society in which he lives

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Jessica Edmonds 28th May 2006 In Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" discuss whether Shylock is a villain or victim of the society in which he lives Shakespeare's play, "The Merchant of Venice" was said to have been written somewhere between 1594 and 1597 and is best known for its portrayal of the Jewish money lender Shylock. Venice in the fifteen hundreds was a city with a great religious divide, Christians against Jews. Venetian law stated that Jews could only hold down certain professions, money lending was not one of them but Shylock was rich and so his business was tolerated as usury because the Christians themselves would loan money from him. Shylock would be spat upon and denied in the streets where he lived by the Christians. Shylock knew that he was detested for his religion but could no more change this than the Christians could change their religion, but of course, Shylock knew that the Christians had the upper hand as they were the law. "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? ...read more.

Middle

Shylocks daughter Jessica even seems to be plotting against him. She sees her father as a mean man and so plots to run away with all his money and be with a Christian and even denounce her religion and become a Christian herself. Shylock is aware of this and, of course, blames the Christians for this. "Farewell, good Lancelot. Alack, what heinous sin is it in me to be ashamed to be my fathers child! But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, Become a Christian and thy loving wife". A2.S3.L14 Antonios ships have failed and when Shylock hears of the news he is pleased and wants to call in his bond and, will take Antonio in front of the high Duke to claim his "Pound of Flesh". "I'll have my bond; speak not against my bond; I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond. Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst cause, but since I am a dog, beware my fangs. The Duke shall grant me justice. I do wonder, thou naughty jailor, thou art so fond to come abroad with him at his request" A3.S3.L4 Even though Antonio tries to reason with Shylock, he knows that the law must be upheld. ...read more.

Conclusion

Antonio detested Shylock for his religion but still had the arrogance to use him when he saw the need. Shylock was most certainly a villain by asking Antonio to pay such a high bond. Shylock was seeking revenge when he asked for his bond as he knew it would take Antonio's life, was Shylock justified in asking for such a thing? No because had it been anyone else borrowing money, the bond, would have been interest on the loan, not the persons life. Shylock was right to take Antonio to court to fulfil the bond but, could have redeemed himself in the eyes of the court if he had taken the money offered, which was much more than he had originally leant, after all he was just a money lender, he would have made a good deal on it as the Christians saw it. Shylock felt he could not stand down on his bond because of his religion and his hatred of the Christians. He felt that if he took the money it would be seen by the Christians that they could continue to operate outside the law and Jews rights would become less than they already were, so, maybe it could be seen that Shylock was a victim of his religious birth circumstances but, also that he was a vengeful man because of his actions and, of the way that the Christians tormented him for his religion. ...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. The Merchant of Venice - Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    Antonio immediately condemns Shylock, saying "the devil can cite scripture for his purpose". Jews were disliked in Elizabethan times also because religion was extremely important to people at that time. Christians disliked Jews because they blamed them for the crucifixion of Jesus.

  2. Is the treatment of shylock justified in

    In court Portia asked Shylock to forfeit the bond and accept three times the amount of money borrowed by Antonio. Shylock refused: "...By my soul I swear there is no power in the tongue of man to alter me. I stay here on my bond" Act 4 scene 1 lines

  1. Is the Merchant of Venice more than just a play about money lending? Discuss. ...

    In the end, Shylock does not get his revenge and the only important thing he has left gets taken away - his religion. Another of the themes is religion. This theme runs very strongly throughout the play, without religion this play would be very different.

  2. Villain or victim? Discuss Shakespeares presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    to lose everything at the end as he really is a cold man and all he cares for is his fortune. Shylock is such a bitter man that he wishes Jessica was dead, 'I would my daughter dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear: would ...and the ducats in her coffin.'

  1. The Merchant of Venice: Is Shylock a villain or a victim who deserves our ...

    your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body pleaseth me." Antonio and Bassanio sign to this, eventually, and the scene ends. After Act 1, Scene 3, Shylock, villain or victim? Victim Shylock, in his next scene, is in his home, with Launcelot, to

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

    I'll not answer that - but say it is my humour." Also, if he just gives in, his pride will be damaged, and it goes against his instincts to just allow the Christians total victory. Antonio at this point, has realised that it is fruitless to try and change Shylock's

  1. Merchant of Venice- is he a victim or villain

    He is also resentful of the ridicule and torment of his race by the Christians. Through the bond he feels he will be able to avenge the treatment of his 'clan': ' To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, / it will feed my revenge...the villainy you

  2. Do you consider Shylock is being portrayed as the victim or the villain in ...

    There is continuity between the way that Hitler used his hatred for his people in the Jewish community, to present himself as a good Christian, and the way that Antonio expresses his faith. Antonio's sub-conscious expressions make it obvious to a modern audience that his own understanding of being a

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