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

    seen one scene where he has got angry with her and even in this incident he did not really shout. On the contrary I think act 3 scene 1 emphasises Jessica's villainy, as the true extent of her actions are understood.

  2. With close reference to the text, explore how Shakespeare presents the character Shylock in ...

    He says: "I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear!" This shows Shylock as a typical Jewish stereotype. He would rather have his jewels than have is daughter.

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

    In doing this we see his stubborn nature and his strict adherence to the law. It also shows us that he is hard-hearted and sadistic, certainly not merciful. We see more of a reason to dislike Shylock when he refuses to let a doctor stand by while he takes his pound of flesh because it is not in the bond.

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

    His servant left him and so did his own daughter. I feel quite sorry for him as he is a lonely man but this is mostly due to his personality. On page 99, Act 3, Scene 1, Shylock shows his delight and pleasure when he finds out Antonio's ships miscarry.

  1. Merchant of Venice- Scene by Scene summary & analysis

    The scroll indicates that those who are self-loving deserve to be called idiots, and would not make good husbands for Portia. The Prince is upset by his choice, but is forced to leave. Portia is happy that the Prince has chosen the wrong casket.

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

    This therefore creates sympathy for Shylock because he is very religious and he clings to his faith and money for support. His own daughter has taken the two things that mean the most to him, but none of the Christians care.

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

    Shylock and his daughter are Jewish, the fact that Jessica should run away with someone who is not of Jewish background enrages Shylock. This is particularly the case as Jessica ran away with a Christian - she ran away with someone whose religion had caused her father so much indiscretion and humiliation.

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

    the condition only made Shylock angrier at Antonio and his feel for the need of revenge increased. Yet the fortunate coincidence was the ending turned out fine for both of Shakespeare's women. Jessica was able to run off with her true love and similarly, Portia was able to marry Bassanio, her true love after him choosing the right casket.

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