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

In your opinion, is Shylock presented as a villain or a victim of the society he lives in? A Merchant of Venice.

Extracts from this document...


First Draft In your opinion, is Shylock presented as a villain or a victim of the society he lives in? In my opinion Shylock has been presented as a victim but at times, he is made a villain because he has been treated so unequally that he has no other option besides applying the bond on Antonio. Society was very different 400 years ago. Shylock was living in the Elizabethan era, where anti-Semitism was very open. The majority of people at that time were Christians who were against Jews and treated them inhumane, because the Christians knew that it is the Jews who were responsible for the murder of Jesus Christ and they are still in the process of completely eliminating Christianity. Shylock was one of the many Jews who were subjected to brutality and insults throughout their lives. Shylock wasn't ever treated compassionately from the start, he wasn't considered as a human and we get to realise that when Shylock (in Act 3 Scene 1, Page 35, Line 54) asks Antonio: "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jews eyes, hath not a Jews hands, organs dimensions, senses, affections, passions" Antonio has subjected Shylock to insults and inequality all his life, one instance is at the beginning when in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock reviews what Antonio has said to him: "And spit upon my Jewish gabardine" " You call me a misbeliever, cut-throat dog" "Hath a dog money, is it possible?" ...read more.


Your charter will not mean anything. This is where we realise that Shylock has been forced into becoming a victim because of all the Anti-Semitic pressures faced upon him. At the court scene, Portia arrives as a lawyer in order to save Antonio's life. Antonio helped make their wedding possible, so it is payback time. We also know from the beginning that even Portia is Anti-Semitic as she says in the trial scene: "Which is the merchant here? And which the Jew?" At the court the first thing Portia asks Shylock to do is to be merciful: "Then must the Jew be merciful." Shylock replies: "My deeds upon my head, I crave the law, the penalty and forfeit of my law" Shylock demands that the justice should be fair. Portia tells Shylock that he is right in saying that justice should be served, but Shylock can only a pound of flesh. " A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off" Portia wanting to defeat Shylock for the last time says: "Are there balance here to weigh The flesh" Shylock replies with glee, because he realises that all the insults and brutality he has been subjected to will now end in front of all of his enemies he is surrounded by. ...read more.


Concluding I would say that Shylock is mainly treated as a victim of the society he lives in. The society he lives in is to be blamed. Anti-Semitism existed 400 years ago and it was a very open issue. In the Elizabethan times Jews were not treated humane because Christian beliefs quote that the Jews killed Jesus Christ. We can also say that Shylock is a victim because he wanted to murder Antonio, but then, wasn't the Duke given the right to execute Shylock just because he wasn't a citizen and was pursuing a bond, which involved murder. We do not tend to realise how badly Shylock is treated, all we notice is how eagerly Shylock wants to murder Antonio. Shylock wants to murder Antonio for many reasons: Shylock wants to avenge Antonio, because it is he who treated him inhumane, it is he who subjected him to brutality and insults throughout his life, It was part of the bond that if Antonio loses his ships a pound of flesh will be promised to Shylock. Antonio over-confidently agreed to the bond, not knowing that over-confidence always makes you lose. At the end, the Christians won, because they were the majority and he was one, he couldn't say anything against the final decision. Saad Ahmed Page Number: 1 Year 10 English Coursework First Draft DUE: Saturday 15th March 2003 ...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?

    This, coupled with the fact that Christians were not allowed to lend money with interest, was the reason why many Jews had earned a living by lending money with interest. The Christian attitude to "usury" meant that Jews began to be held in contempt because of their association with money-lending.

  2. Merchant of Venice- Scene by Scene summary & analysis

    Soon thereafter Bassanio, Graziano and Antonio arrive. Nerissa demands that Graziano show her the ring he gave away to Portia's "clerk" in Venice. They start to argue over it, with Graziano defending his action as a form of kindness for Antonio. Portia overhears them and pretends to "discover" what happened.

  1. "The Merchant of Venice": Shylock: Victim or Villian?

    treated so differently despite being of the same species and behaving or reacting in similar ways. Being Jewish automatically makes Shylock a villain in the play. This is unfair since it is a completely prejudice idea; Shakespeare has probably not even met a Jew in his life!

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

    spit 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 moneys'?" Antonio makes another threat to Shylock, saying that "I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee

  1. In your opinion does Shakespeare portrayShylock as a victim or a villain

    " I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him." This quote shows how Shylock will make this old grudge between Jews and Christians grow and how eventually he wants to avenge this grudge, and in turn make Antonio pay.

  2. How just is the outcome of the trial scene for Shylock in the Merchant ...

    Surprising, Shylock values more of his money than his daughter Jessica, even before her parting to a Christian, Lorenzo. He is also rather obsessive about his faith of being a Jew, which is why he refuses to eat, drink and pray with the Christians (Act 1 Scene 3)

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

    Shylock's apparent good humour lulls the two gentlemen into a false sense of security, so that when he insists on charging no interest, Antonio at least is not suspicious. Instead Shylock jokes with the pair saying that "If you repay me not on such a day .....

  2. José Martínez Ruiz,"Azorín": La voluntad as a regenerational novel.

    Finally the reader can view Antonio Azor�n and his annihilation of will, of La voluntad .The reader is also introduced to Baroja. Furthermore, it is at this point when the author distances himself from the character of Antonio Azor�n; the text appeared autobiographical up until this point.

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