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Is Shylock a villain or victim of hissociety?

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Introduction

Is Shylock a villain or victim of his society? 'I am a Jew' a famous saying from Shylock in 'Merchant of Venice' that clarifies the merchant brotherhood of a wealthy city. 'Merchant of Venice' contains rascals and heroes. The audiences will soon realise that Shylock, the Jewish money lender, is shown as a villain within the wealthy city. Is this really what Shakespeare had intended? This testimony given proposes that Shylock is more of a deceitful character than what the Christian colony wants us to comprehend. In my essay I intend to explore if Shylock is really a villain or a victim of his society. Shylock is a Jew, which is why the Christians of Venice dislike him. This is shown by 'If it be proved against an alien' (Act 4 Scene 1 line 345) because in Shakespeare's time Jews were seen as outsiders within the city. This quotation shows that the Christians think the Jewish people are 'Cut-throat' and operate in a way the audience would not expect. Shakespeare's audience relate to him as an 'alien' because the Christians believe Jewish people were shown as evil people. ...read more.

Middle

Here Shakespeare uses a stereotype. The reason I know why Jews were treated differently is because of the law against them. So Shylock would have to portray the law so he could get his revenge against Antonio as Shakespeare's audience would expect Shylock to do this. However, despite all the evidence we infer, Shylock is also shown as a victim of the society he lives in. Shylock is a victim of discrimination and mockery. This is because he is persecuted by the Christian people. For example 'you call me misbelieve, cut-throat dog/ and spit upon my Jewish gaberctive' (Act 1 Scene 3 Lines 107-108). This example highlights the point of discrimination against Shylock by Antonio. As Shylock is a victim of violence and name calling as well, Antonio is proving to show that Shylock can be seen as a villain and a victim of the society, that Jews and Christians live in within Venice. Shylock is a victim of lots of things including mockery and name-calling as the association has shown. This is shown by 'To spit on thee again' (Act 1 Scene 3 Line 27) ...read more.

Conclusion

I know this because 'I am a Jew. Hath not/ Jew eyes? Hath not Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses/ affections, passions?'(Act 3 Scene 1 Lines 49-51). This example highlights that Shylock is only explaining what it is to be a human, because everyone can get hurt in someway and everyone has feelings too. You won't be a human if you didn't have feelings. As Shakespeare uses stereotypes against Jewish dealers, he tried to make out that the Jews are the hard done by people and the Christians are the rightful religion. In conclusion I believe that Shylock is a villain and a victim of the patriarchal society in which he lives in. The reason for why I believe Shylock can be seen as a villain is because of the stubbornness, his religion and his intention on revenge against Antonio. I also believe that Shylock is a victim because of all the abuse he was give like, the name calling, violence, mockery and discrimination. The way Shylock was treated in Venice can be related back to the Holocaust when Jews were pick on because of their religion but also the way they tried to help people escape from the German unpropitious, Hitler. So is Shylock really a villain or a victim of his patriarchal society. 1 Nicola Bryant 10B ...read more.

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