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

Is Shylock Villain or Victim?

Extracts from this document...


Is Shylock Villain or Victim? I am going to write an essay about whether shylock depicts a villain or victim. We are first introduced to Shylock in Act 1 Scene 3. In this scene, Bassanio asks Shylock if he can borrow money from him in Antonio's name as Shylock is a usurer. We then learn about Shylock's hatred for Christians: "I hate him for he is a Christian." We also know that he despises Antonio personally and not only discriminating him as a Christian: "How like a fawning publican he looks." As it stands so far, Shylock is discriminative person and can be extremely abusive for whatever reason. These are typical attributes of a villain but we are yet to know why Shylock feels this way. Shylock then mentions that he will never forgive Christians. He also has a grudge against Antonio: "I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him." For Shylock to say these two, all this hatred and anger must have formed from the treatment he may have received from a group of people or a certain particular such as Antonio. It is now debatable whether Shylock is a victim because although he emphasises how intent he is on getting revenge, the word revenge itself indicates that he must have been mistreated poorly himself and consequently, as humans it is natural for it to be in our nature to retaliate. ...read more.


Antonio is also very resentful about the way his race has been tormented by the Christians. Shylock speaks in a way that he sees himself as a representative of his nation, the Jews. "He hates our sacred nation." Shylock feels this is a perfect opportunity to relive his hatred for Antonio as well as Christian's and goes for Antonio's life. This is an act of villainy. Shylock then says he will avenge the treatment of his 'clan' and feed his revenge using the villainy Antonio and his nation supposedly taught him: "It will feed my revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute." By saying this, Shylock will copy the example of Christians showing he is no better than they are even though he complains about their behaviour towards him. This shows that Shylock could also be a victim as much as he sounds a villain because it is as if all this villainy has come from the way Christians have been treating him in the same villain-like manner. Another point I have picked up on is that he mistreats other people, even those close to him, even as close as his own daughter, Jessica. In Act 2 Scene 5, Shylock is ordering her about in a harsh way as if she is a slave: "Hear you me, Jessica. ...read more.


This really emphasises Shylock as being victimized and makes the majority of the audience feel a sense of sympathy as well as sorry towards Shylock. These are other emotions Shakespeare cleverly draws from the audience which makes Shylock seem even more of a stereotypical character which I'm sure Shakespeare would have intended. Shylock is also a victim of society. At the time, almost all of the laws were in favor of Christians. Jews had very few rights and depended only on the mercy of the society they lived in. This is the main reason why Shylock lost the trial in Act 4. Shylock's life was then put in the hands of the Duke. His punishment was a religious conversion from Jewish to Christianity. Shylock now has no daughter, no money, and no wife and has now lost his religion. He now has nothing to live for, all because he was treated in a villainous manner by Christians and seeked vengeance. However, this would have almost been inevitable as he is living in a Christian society and consequently, he is being victimized by the laws as well as the people around him. Having said all this, I'd say Shylock is a victim more than he is a villain despite the thin borderline although I think this was what Shakespeare intended, for the distinction between villain and victim to become indistinct which is what he does very well throughout the play. 30/04/2007 DAVID POLLON ...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. Do you think Shylock was treated fairly by the Christians?Was his behaviour justified?

    'Be merciful, take thrice thy money, bid me tear the bond'. Shylock continues to be stubborn though and refused any other settlement and still wants his pound of flesh. 'There is no power in the tongue of man to alter me; I stay here on my bond'.

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

    the world he thought he could trust in has abandoned him with almost his entire wealth. However, the audience will also be aware that the character is materialistic, as shown by his response to his daughters fleeing. The audience will also feel that Shylock is viscous and a coward by

  1. Shylock - Victim of Villain?

    On the other hand, one might see him as a victim. His paranoia means he can hardly make friends with anyone, let alone getting on with the Christians.

  2. Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    These both take place in the courtroom scene, where Shylock demands his pound of flesh, before a helpless Antonio. At first, in Shylock's encounter with Salerio and Solanio, he calls Antonio a "beggar" and "a bankrupt" perhaps thinking that Antonio is even lower than Shylock, that perhaps now Shylock can settle the score with Antonio.

  1. Shylock - Villain or Victim?

    In the play, Shylock speaks to the audience aside and insults Antonio. Shylock [Aside] : ...How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian; ... Here, Shylock angrily expresses his hatred for Antonio and the religion of Christianity.

  2. Shylock: Villain Or Victim

    This shows the unbearable amount of hatred inside of Shylock but where this hatred amounted from can be elaborated. Conversely it could be argued that Shylock has suffered a lot of racist abuse maybe more often than an average Jew in that society.

  1. Do you consider Shylock to be a villain or victim

    The legal system was unfair to the Jews. Shylock was never on an equal footing. Shylock is not seen as a person in the court room they have already decided Shylock is an evil person, they can see no good in him.

  2. Shylock Victim or Villain

    of friendship in order to entice Antonio to become indebted to him, not just with money but with his life. Antonio is very na�ve regarding the terms of the bond taking the �pound of flesh� clause to be a show of friendship not hatred: � The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.� (Act I Scene iii)

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