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

Merchant of Venice- is he a victim or villain

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"It seems as if Shakespeare was determined not to create a 'stage villain' who would always evoke a simple, hostile response. Shylock is a most complex and dominating character; he appears in only five scenes and yet for many people he is the centre of the play's interest." In the light of this quotation discuss Shakespeare's representation of the character and evaluate whether Shylock is entirely evil, a victim of persecution or a mixture of both. In the 'Merchant of Venice' it can be argued that Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, undergoes a metamorphosis from victim to villain. The character has a very controversial portrayal and some what vague. However, in this essay I hope to reach a conclusion to whether or not Shakespeare was determined to portray Shylock as a victim of persecution or a classical 'stage villain' who would evoke a simple and hostile response. During the course of this essay I will be considering the following aspects; the various staged productions and how through out the ages, societies interpreted Shylock's character and the recent film adaptations of the production. In relation to the quote, it does seem true to say that Shylock has a dominant and complex disposition. ...read more.

Middle

Antonio has realised Shylock will not listen to reason and has resigned himself to his fate: ' Let him alone: / I'll follow him no more with bootless prayer.' (Act III Scene iii) Shylock's resolve to destroy continues during Act IV in the trial scene. He refuses to show mercy when asked by Portia and the Duke: ' On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.' (Act IV Scene i) Of course legally he is right, it is not stated in the political law that he should be merciful but perhaps morally he is obliged to show mercy as Portia explains to him at some length. The way he ruthlessly pursues his revenge on Antonio shows him to be an extremely callous and ruthless man. However, having lost his case, he expects to be shown mercy by the Christians in having a portion of his wealth returned to him: ' You take my house when you do take the prop/ That doth sustain my house; you take my life/ when you do take the means whereby I live.' (Act IV Scene i) In this he shows himself to be arrogant in demanding mercy when he himself could render none. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Shylock pursues his revenge fervently he still has the audience's sympathy because of the unfair and harsh punishment he receives. It strikes a modern day audience as grossly unfair that the severity of his punishment reflects not his crime, but his race. He is a victim of the Christians' intolerance of other races and ideas. 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 ultimately evil character. He lets his lust for vengeance engulf all other aspects of his life and his complete lack of mercy towards Antonio renders him a villain in the eyes of the audience. We can only guess at the way in which Shakespeare intended Shylock to be portrayed. I feel that Shakespeare intended Shylock to be victim, he was created to challenge the pre-conceptions and ideologies of the Elizabethan era. Having said this, I feel personally that it is not productive for us to simply categorise Shylock as either victim or villain. Through Shylock, Shakespeare explores the way in which the line between the oppressed and the oppressor can become blurred. 1 The English Review November 2007 from the article 'Shylock down the centuries' by Tony Martin. ?? ?? ?? ?? Aamna Khan 10G Mr. Warner English Literature Coursework ...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. How Does Shakespeare Influence Audience Opinion Of Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

    Then we see how the way the other characters treat and refer to Shylock will affect the audience opinion. Shylock is treated very badly in this scene. He is not referred to by his name, but by "Jew" which is made to sound like an insult and it takes away his equality and individuality.

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

    and the ducats in her coffin' It is also to do with the fact that she has run off with a Christian depriving her father of the proud moment when he would be able to hand her over to a suitable husband.

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

    However, his display does contrast the mood for the Christians in this scene who are rather pleading for mercy rather than expressing their rage at Shylock. Gratiano abuses him with language of wild nature, saying that a dead wolf's soul entered his body while he was still in his mother's womb.

  2. Merchant of Venice essay

    Despite much anger from Bassanio and Gratiano, and an offer from Bassanio to pay back double the debt, Shylock remains undeterred. Surely if Shakespeare had intended Shylock to continue following the stereotype of Jews as being greedy for money then Shylock would have named a price.

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

    On the theme of vengeance, a theme prevalent throughout the play, Shylock describes his use of a pound of flesh, "If it will please nothing else, it / Will feed my revenge". This thought, of revenge and Shylock's need for what he sees as justice makes him seem very evil, unfeeling and unmerciful.

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

    In Act III scene (iii), Shylock has once again returned to being a stubborn evil selfish man seeking revenge. This would have really made the audience angry seeing how Shylock has even managed to deceive them. This is a great method to captivate the audience and have them become involved in the action of the following act.

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

    let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh." Even though his blood-thirsty bond shows Shylock to be both cruel and vindictive, I think that Antonio's past actions are some justification for Shylock's attitude. Before Shylock leaves his house to attend Bassanio's dinner party, he seems ill at ease.

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

    Solanio firstly calls Shylock a, "villain Jew." On line 14, Solanio also calls Shylock a, "dog Jew." They both also mock Shylock by copying Shylock's actions by pretending to run through the streets and shouting. On page 95, Shylock says a very important speech on the equality of Jews and Christians.

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