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Merchant of Venice

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In the play the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, the character Shylocks portrayal changes a great deal. This mans image goes from that of a cruel and evil murder to a pitiful and helpless beggar of mercy. These circumstances raise the question of what kind of man Shylock truly is, and whether or not the reader should feel pity for him. There is no doubt that Shylock is a man with faults, but there is evidence to suggest that his intentions though cruel and heartless are the result of years of unjust provocation on the part of Antonio. Shylock reveals a very dark side of himself once he has Antonio at his mercy. ...read more.


In this he is clearly saying that he believes his actions to be completely justified. In order to make a reasonable argument on Shylocks behalf, a reader must see this exchange as more than the simple collection of a debt. Clearly Antonio and Shylocks relationship is not on the best of terms when Antonio comes to Shylock with a request for a loan of 3,000 ducats. In response to this request, Shylock replies: You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine, and all for use of that which is mine own. Well then, it now appears you need my help. ...read more.


If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not as to thy friends, for when did friendship take A breed for barren metal of his friend? But it rather to thine enemy, who if he break, thou mayest with better face Exact the penalty. This is a very clear case of provocation. Antonio knows exactly the risk he is taking, and rather than attempt to foster any kind of peace with Shylock, he embraces hate and encourages Shylock to do the same. Under these circumstances it would take a very pious man to offer Antonio mercy. Shylocks inability to find this mercy for Antonio becomes forgivable. As a result Shylock becomes a man whom the audience sympathizes with at the end of the play. ...read more.

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