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

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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.

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