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

    However, I do not think this reason justifies her treatment of him. On the other hand she is not in any way joyous about her escape plans. On the contrary she seems very upset that she is ashamed of her own father, 'Alack what heinous sin is it in me

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

    Shylock enters and attention is immediately drawn to him. This is because Solanio tells of how the devil came "in the likeness of a Jew". Shylock's launch straight into accusations against the Christians shows he is not only hurt, but also extremely angry.

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

    mind, "You may as well do anything most hard as seek to soften that ....his Jewish heart" and does not want to satisfy Shylock by begging. Even when Bassanio offers the Jew six thousand ducats instead of three, Shylock replies that if the six thousand ducats were multiplied by six, he would still have his bond.

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

    Another unappealing quality that Shylock possesses is greediness. When Jessica runs away Shylock seems to be more concerned about his money and fortune rather than losing his own daughter which is quite inhumane. Solanio reports to Salario how he saw Shylock madly running down the street crying for his ducats and daughter.

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

    The contrasts between Shylock and Antonio influence audience opinion greatly. The main reason for disliking Shylock is the fact that he is a Jew and most of the Elizabethan audience, as well as the majority of the characters in the play, are Christians.

  1. Merchant of Venice - is Shylock an evil villain?

    It doesn't mean the taking of interest is good. Lines 94 to 99 of Scene 3 show us of how Antonio treats Shylock. Antonio says, "Mark you this Bassanio, The devil can cite scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart.

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

    In the play, Shylock is not allowed to prosper and is particularly denied by Antonio, a wealthy Christian. It is this rivalry between Shylock the Jew and Antonio the Christian that provides the spine of the play. In my opinion, Shakespeare used this rivalry to write the play and in

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