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Is Shylock a Villain or a Victim?

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Introduction

Shakespeare Assignment Is Shylock a Villain or a Victim? In this essay I intend to discuss and answer the question, is Shylock a villain or a victim? I am going to discuss the treatment the Jews received by the Christians during Elizabethan times, I will also compare this to the treatment that Shylock received by the Christians in the play to see if there are any similarities between something that is fact and fiction. I am also going to discuss and view different aspects of Shylock's character, in what ways he thinks of the Christians as business partners and friends, but also as a race. Later at the end of this essay I will write my conclusion on my views if I think Shylock is a villain or a victim giving reasons for my answers. During Elizabethan times Jews were treated as scum and as vile people and also a devil worshiping religion, the Christians thought they were much superior to the Jews and considered them as the lowest of the low. I can give an example of this sort of treatment, when in 1594 three years before The Merchant of Venice was first staged injustice and discrimination was brought to the courtroom, the Queen's private physician and doctor named Dr Roderigo Lopez was accused of trying to poison the Queen Elizabeth the doctor was waiting to be called in to the courtroom the judges referred to this statement 'Bring in the vile Jew' they did not call him 'doctor' or 'sir' but all the way through the trial he was called 'vile Jew'. ...read more.

Middle

But therefore should I go?' People who would have been watching this play would have felt that Shylock is very controlling of his daughters life, he tells her what to do and where to go, people would think he is selfish and he is very self minded, he does things to fill his riches. In Act 2 Scene 6 Jessica appears dressed as a boy, and throws down the money she has stolen from Shylock. She is alarmed at having to appear in public. Later Jessica goes of with Lorenzo and Salerio to leave for the party. Although Lorenzo is a Christian and Jessica is a Jew, they both show love and affection towards each other. In Act 2 Scene 6 Lorenzo describes his love for Jessica when he says 'So are you sweet, even in the lovely garnish of a boy'. This shows that even when Jessica is dressed up as a boy she is still as sweet and beautiful even when she looks different. Jessica's and Lorenzo's love is so strong that they even will not let their religious differences split them apart. This would have made Shylock go ballistic, if he would have found out she was dating and planning to marry a Christian, to Shylock this would be the ultimate and worst sin a Jewish person would make. Solanio and Salerio discuss the reaction of Shylock to Jessica's elopement to Lorenzo by Solanio saying ' I never heard a passion so confused, so strange, outrageous and so variable, as the dog Jew did utter in the streets: My daughter! ...read more.

Conclusion

dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods are by laws of Venice confiscate unto the state of Venice'. Shylock is not allowed to let Antonio shed one drop of blood as it says in the Venice law book that one drop of Christian blood is shed, Shylock will go in jail, and loose his money. Also to add to this he is not allowed to cut no less or more than one pound of Antonio's flesh, which make it impossible to cut exactly on pound of flesh and not shed one drop of blood. Shylock is dumbstruck, he feels that every one has cheated him. I think it is not necessary for Antonio to force Shylock to become a Christian, I think that is a great example by Shakespeare about racial prejudice that was brought in to the courtroom. After all of my analysis I have come to one conclusion that I think Shylock is a victim he has been victimised by his daughter, Antonio the Christians and the courtroom. He was made to look like a villain but all he wanted was revenge. I think that there are a lot of similarities between fact and fiction for example when the Duke called in Shylock to the courtroom he used racial words and phrases to Describe him. So I think that William Shakespeare done a good and detailed job to show us how Jews were treated a long time ago. By:Tadas Balnys 10A ...read more.

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