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

Is Shylock a victim or a villain? Give your opinion by referring closely to the text In the Merchant of Venice Shylock is portrayed as both a victim and a villain.

Extracts from this document...


Is Shylock a victim or a villain? Give your opinion by referring closely to the text In the Merchant of Venice Shylock is portrayed as both a victim and a villain. Shakespeare shows that he is firstly a villain as he is spoken about in a conversation between Salarnio and Salerio. They describe him as "dog Jew," automatically we see him as the bad man of the play. We then sympathize with Shylock as he tells us how he was poorly treated, " You call me misbeliever, cut throat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine." He states that Antonio had looked down on him, spat on him, turned his friends against him and prevented him from making business for the simple reason of being a Jew. Remembering in recent history of the Holocaust we sympathize with him. When the time comes that Antonio asks a favour of Shylock he immediately seeks revenge. In case Antonio does not pay back the 3,000 ducats that he is to borrow Shylock demands "an equal pound of your fair flesh off and taken in what part of the body pleaseth me." ...read more.


At this point we class Shylock to be a victim, left with no money, between lending to Antonio and his daughter thieving off him, he is ruined. Shylock then hears news of Antonio's ships, and is delighted that it is wrecked, as then Antonio would not be able to pay him back. Then whiles talking too Salarnio he asks what use to him is the pound of flesh? Shylock answers ''to bait fish.'' This makes you think that what a pointless way to want flesh. He then says that a Jew is a lot like a Christian they have the same hands, organs, dimensions as humans, eat the same food, feel the same pain, hurt with the same weapons and so on. He justifies his intentions to have vent ion by saying that if a Jew was to wrong to wrong a Christian they would seek revenge and therefore if a Christian was to wrong a Jew he should do the same. We are then left to make our own opinions of Shylock. ...read more.


At this point you do feel sorry for him as he is left with nothing not even the satisfaction of revenge, and also he is forced to become what he most hated, a Christian. He is also alone where as Antonio has his friends to see him through tough times. But then again you can also say that Shylock got what he deserved for being so cold-hearted. Shakespeare ends the play to make our own opinions of Shylock. I think that even though a misunderstood character he is still a very cruel man. Poorly treated by Christians may had turned him bitter but being stripped of all his possessions I do feel sorry for him. Therefore in my opinion Shylock is a villain. I say this because he wanted revenge in one man for cultural reasons and religion for what had happened to him in the past. Also he enforced his beliefs in his actions towards Jessica from the way he talked about Christians as bad people and stopped her from seeing the party's and other social gatherings, which in the end caused her to run away. Not forgetting that he also showed no mercy and would had been heartless enough to kill Antonio. ...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. Peer reviewed

    Shylock- Villain or Victim?

    4 star(s)

    many a time in the Rialto you have berated me about my moneys and usances. Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the badge of all our tribe."

  2. The Merchant of Venice - Jessica - Victim or Villain?

    She should respect him as any daughter should respect their father and marry who their father thought to be a suitable suitor. I think she is in a very similar position to Portia, the wealthy heiress of Belmont who is bound to her father will and can not marry a husband her own choice.

  1. Is Shylock portrayed as a Victim or a Villain?

    Also, if the deal isn't repaid he gets to cut a pound of flesh from Antonio. It is hard to see if Shylock is genuinely willing to be friendly with him saying, "I would be friends with you, and have your love".

  2. Shylock - Victim or Villain - What is your assessment of the presentation of ...

    The way the Christians have been forced to come to him when they need help would surely please Shylock. Although Shylock has been portrayed vastly as a villain, the incidents before his daughter runs away means another side of the story can be seen.

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

    The reason that both Shylock and Antonio are so sure that the Jew will win his case is because in Venice, justice comes above even the Doge (or Duke) and that it is not prejudiced towards the many different races that flock to the City.

  2. Shylock: Hero or villain?

    Shylock often puts money and wealth as his top priority, like when he goes out and asks Jessica to look after it, and when she elopes he's more upset about the loss of his wealth than of his child. But he's not necessarily a bad person, just greedy, and has

  1. Explore the conflicting responses, which the character of Shylock provokes in the audience. How ...

    The quote shows Shylock's disparagement. This will cause the audience to feel sorrow for Shylock, as he has firstly been denied his bond and secondly he has lost all that was his, after losing so much earlier in the play when Jessica and Lorenzo fled.

  2. Discuss Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’: is he portrayed as ...

    profession which they were legally allowed to follow was to practice usury) seen as money obsessed, hard dealers. This play was very popular amongst Hitler's anti-Semitism and was acted out on many occasions in Germany during Hitler's reign to justify what was being done to the Jews.

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