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"In the light of your study of Shakespeare's presentation of Shylock in Act 1 Sc 3 and Act 4 Sc 1 of "The Merchant of Venice" would you agree that Shylock is more a victim than a villain?"

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Introduction

"In the light of your study of Shakespeare's presentation of Shylock in Act 1 Sc 3 and Act 4 Sc 1 of "The Merchant of Venice" would you agree that Shylock is more a victim than a villain?" The Merchant of Venice was written in 1599 by William Shakespeare, The impact of contemporary Elizabethan was clearly shown in the play, although it is set in Venice. The play shows a character of great qualities but with a side of evil, which is one of the many reasons the play is so great. The character is called Shylock and I will be basing my coursework around him. You could say that Shylock was almost created by the very negative attitude towards Jewish people in the 16th century, it's as if Shakespeare has produced the perfect stereotype of a Jew in the Elizabethan worlds eyes. At this time Elizabeth I was the Queen of England, the whole country had just settled from civil war over religion and were at enemies with Spain. The Jews were almost a worldwide punch bag, they were being blamed for many different things and were being tortured and killed because of this. They were thought of as foreigners even if they had been born in that particular country. ...read more.

Middle

This is because Antonio is a Christian and dislikes Shylock because of his religion. Antonio treats Shylock in an unacceptable way. We know this because in Act 1 scene 3 shylock states... "Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last, you spurn'd Me such a day, another time You call'd me a dog: and for These courtesies I'll lend you Thus much monies." Antonio's reply to this comment is that he'll do it all again because at the end of the day Shylock is still a Jew. "I am as like to call thee so again, To spit thee again, to spurn thee too." This shows Shylock being treated unfairly and the victim more so than the villain. How ever as the audience we are unaware of Shylock as a person, his personality. He may be a very disliked person not just because he's a Jew. We are later shown that he may not be the nicest person in the play, because his daughter leaves home and elopes with her lover Lorenzo, who is a Christian; this can understandably make Shylock distressed and to make it worse she runs away with a lot of Shylock's money. In Act 4 scene 1 Shylock and Antonio are in court, because Antonio has been unable to repay the 3000 ducats in the three months. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is not very fair towards Shylock and as a human it's hard to understand why someone would do this to another human being. My conclusion to this essay is, I think personally that Shylock is very mistreated in the play, and so is a victim in my eyes. The reason I am saying this is because after reading "The Merchant of Venice" I believe Shylock was a character created by Shakespeare to show the audience how the Jews were being treated. However Shakespeare I think has cleverly created a play where it shows the audience what he thinks about the racist situation, but also shows the audience what they want to see. In Act 1 scene 3 we see Shylock involved in the talks between himself and Antonio, for the loan of the money. Shylock has been treated like an "animal", sometimes even worse. This is some motivation for Schlock's revenge in my eyes, and I think most people would want to get revenge on someone who has publicly humiliated them by spiting in public at them! I think most would want to get some revenge, even though revenge is against the Christian religion, it doesn't stop Christians wanting it. In Act 4 scene 1 Shylock loses the court case and not very fairly either, he loses everything he owns because he is classed as a foreigner in Venice. This is a victim not a villain... Michael Rose 11jf3 ...read more.

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