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

Is Shylock the villain or victim in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Is Shylock the villain or victim in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice? The Merchant of Venice is a famous play written by William Shakespeare, in 1598. At this time, written scripts were acted out in the Globe theatre and all roles were played by men. Around the time of this play being brought to life on the stage and for a long time previously, Shakespeare's plays tended to offend audience members. For this reason Shakespeare set his play in Venice, Italy. This meant Christians and Jews found the play and issues raised in it less offensive and didn't relate to it so much. During 1598 Jews and Christians were almost segregated in Venice, so each discriminated against the other. Another issue was that women were not to act on stage at all. When Shakespeare writes about women, such as Portia, or Jessica dressing as men, both women to do something that would usually be unheard of. On the stage the male actors would be in effect men acting as women, acting as men. This shows how important men were in the city of Venice, because women are dressing as men in order to have influence that women did not. Act one scene two, At Belmont, Portia and Nerissa discuss the importance of Portia finding a suitable honest suitor. ...read more.

Middle

It is in Act two Scene five that the first conversation occurs between Shylock and Jessica. During this he orders her about as if she were a servant and mentions nothing about her well being, only instructs her to look after that of his house. These quotes show examples of Shylock treating his daughter with no respect, as he is overprotective, etc, 'Hear you me, Jessica', 'Lock up my doors and when you hear the drum... Nor thrust your head into the public street... But stop my house's ears...Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter'- When the Christian parade is running outside. In act two scene eight, Salerio and Solanio are constant tormentors of Shylock and mock him at every opportunity with these words, 'as the dog Jew did utter in the streets in the streets: "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!"' They mock him for speaking aloud in such shock in the streets when Shylock was repeating 'My daughter! O my ducats!'. This is quite important because here Shylock is weighing out each loss- his daughter, and his wealth. The repetition of each daughter and each ducats seems to be equal but then his words sway as Shylock repeats O my ducats further. This suggests that Shylock would prefer to have his ducats back that his daughter Jessica. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I feel that ultimately Shylock is a villain. The way he treats those he is close to, for example his daughter Jessica exposes his vindictive and very evil character. He lets his lust for vengeance take over, and throughout the play Shylock shows no mercy towards Antonio. I feel that Shakespeare intended Shylock to be the victim, Shylock made the interesting character created to challenge the pre-conceptions of the Elizabethan era. Shylock is naive in the way that he believes that he can take on the Christians and win, knowing that at the time of the play Venation law is designed to serve the best interests of the Christians. Shylock's punishment is possibly made to harsh AS Shylock is made to convert to Christianity. It could be argued that Portia had taken Shylock's punishment too far. Shylock's life is spared but he may be better off dead because he has nothing to live for. Remembering that all his wealth has been taken from him, and his daughter has left. So Shylock can nolonger be the rich moneylender that he has been in the past. Although Shylock had attempted to pursue his revenge he still has the audience's sympathy because of the unfair and harsh punishment he has been given. It is unjust that Shylock's punishment is formed from his crime, but made on the basis of his religion ultimately. Shylock should be seen as the villain of the Merchant of Venice for this. ...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. Portia's Three Suitors.

    His overenthusiastic praise and attempts to sound sincere fail and make him sound insincere. Bassanio does not talk about his own merits or credit unlike the other suitors who always mention it. The scroll mentions that he doesn't choose by outward appearance and therefore wins Portia's hand in marriage.

  2. How Does Shakespeare Influence Audience Opinion Of Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

    Another of the main devices in the play which influence our opinion of Shylock occurs with the main twist in the plot: the ending where the tables are turned on Shylock. In the court he is insisting on carrying out the bond he had with Antonio, even though both the

  1. Shakespeare's play, 'The merchant of Venice' - what do we learn about the character ...

    The prince immediately assumes that the casket is referring to the 'lady' and so Morocco jumps to conclusions and chooses the golden casket. This shows us that the prince of Morocco does not think things through very carefully and is quick to judge things without a lot of thought.

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

    He is strong willed and determined. I also see him as being bitter and resentful. This opinion is based on Act 1 Scene 3, when Shylock agrees the bond with Antonio. This is apparent throughout the scene and is portrayed by the way Shylock is running the situation.

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

    This mockery of Shylock, when he is not on stage, shows again how the Christian and Venetian society had no respect for him. Also, in way, the fact Jessica stole "two sealed bags of ducats" and, "two rich and precious stones", means a certain amount of sympathy for Shylock can be given.

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

    By being merciless, not only does he suffer once again at the hands of his enemy but also at the hands of the law that he always referred to in this scene. The law that was once Shylock's only way in giving him justice, revenge and also long term profit was also the law that proved to be him downfall.

  1. Shakespeare’s three women characters – Portia, Nerissa and Jessica – are portrayed as typical ...

    For instance Portia sticks to her fathers will and marries the person who chooses the right casket but has it in her mind to try and influence her suitors. Jessica is not so typical because she rejects everything, which is expected of her and runs away with a man of a different religion and steals her father's money and jewels.

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

    We feel her pain and sympathize with her, hating Shylock more for treating his own daughter this way. Shylock feels that he is superior to everyone else. For instance, he complains about his Launcelot eating too much or wearing out his clothes, he addresses him with "Sirrah" and uses his mistakes against him (when Launcelot says reproach rather than approach).

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