• 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 Shylock an evil villain?

Extracts from this document...


Merchant of Venice Coursework SHYLOCK: VILLAIN OR VICTIM? IS SHYLOCK AN EVIL VILLAIN, WHO DESERVES THE HARSH PUNISHMENT DOLED OUT TO HIM, OR IS HE A TRAGIC FIGURE, MORE SINNED AGAINST THAN SINNING, A VICTIM OF THE ENVIROMENT IN WHICH HE LIVED? In Merchant of Venice, Shylock, a Jew, plays the role of a moneylender. Shylock has a daughter called Jessica and wife called Leah who, as we know it, is dead. Shylock is quite a greedy and selfish person and cares more of his ducats and jewels than his daughter. I believe Shylock is more of a villain than a victim because he is a mean, selfish person, but it also a victim in his society, as not many people like him or treat him fairly. In Act 1, Scene 3, we learn of Shylock's first appearance in the play. Shylock comes across as a very confident and pleasant person. I also think Shylock is a good businessman. In this scene, Bassanio is confronting Shylock about a loan of three thousand ducats. Bassanio has borrowed money off Antonio in the past, but now wants to set himself up to try for the hand in marriage of Portia. At the start of the scene, when Antonio enters, we learn of Shylock's hatred for Antonio. Shylock says aside, "How like a fawning publican he looks. ...read more.


In Act 3, on page 99, Tubal, Shylock's friend, brings some news of Antonio. Shylock's mood is completely turned around. He goes from being sad to very excited at Antonio's misfortune. Shylock starts saying, "What, What, What? I'll luck, I'll luck?" and "I thank God, I thank God. Is it true, Is it true?" But as soon as Tubal mentions his daughter spending some money in Genoa, he doesn't even show sadness for his lost daughter, only his riches. Tubal doesn't show anger like Shylock, towards Antonio, but sympathy. I believe this is because Shylock has had a lifelong feud with Antonio and all he wants is a chance of revenge. I think this side of Shylock makes him a villain. All Shylock is after at this stage, is Antonio's pound of flesh. He doesn't care about his daughter, Jessica, at all. Tubal says, "But Antonio is certainly undone." He does think that Shylock is a bit obsessed by Antonio's bond. One of the other main plots of the play is that of the relationship between Shylock and his daughter. They don't seem to have a very relationship. Most fathers and daughters have a very pleasant bond, unlike Jessica and her father. As we can see in Act 2, Scene 3 on page 59, Jessica very much dislikes her father. ...read more.


Gratiano continues to mock Shylock. At this point I feel sorry for Shylock in a way because al he wants to do is settle for the original bond and leave, but now everyone wants to mock and give Shylock punishment. Because Shylock has tried to kill a Venetian citizen, half of his goods must go to the intended victim and half to the state. Also, only the Duke can spare his life. Showing the mercy that Shylock would not, the Duke spares his life. At Antonio's request, Shylock is allowed to keep half of his wealth, as long as the other half go to Jessica and Lorenzo, and then all of his wealth when he dies. Also, Shylock must become a Christian. Shylock is a broken man. But does Shylock deserve all this harsh punishment? I think he should be punished for what he has done, but I wouldn't punish him as far as the Duke and court did. Because of what Shylock had done, tried to kill Antonio through revenge and spite, I think he should give all of his money to Jessica and Lorenzo, instead of just half of it. But telling him to convert to Christianity is on a whole new level. In Shakespeare's day, it was quite common for a Jew to be converted into a Christian. Nowadays though, nobody can be forced to change their religion. Religion is a big part of today's society and I believe no one should have that taken away from them. Daniel Scotton 11R ...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. What is your assessment of the presentation of the character and role of Shylock ...

    This seems to be one of the only points, if not the only point in the play, when Shylock seems to have personal feelings and emotions. I think the fact he has lost this priceless item of great sentimental value is a great way of seeing Shylock as a victim,

  2. Merchant of Venice - Comparing and Contrasting Antonio and Shylock

    Shylock places his money before his daughter. He is irate with his daughter. She not only left him for a Christian, but took his most precious possessions and caused others to mock him openly. This has caused Shylock's desire for revenge and hurt.

  1. Is Shylock More Sinned Against Than Sinning? Discuss...

    He is Shylock's servant and in the scene is having a battle with his conscience over whether to leave Shylock's home. Launcelot refers to Shylock as being the 'Devil Incarnation', 'certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation' - line 26.

  2. The merchant of venice, Modern audiences probably find it difficult to accept Shylock as ...

    Jessica is cold towards him and does not show feelings of remorse over leaving him; though an Elizabethan audience would deem he earned such treatment, a present audience would sympathise with the unfortunate character. In Act 3 Scene 1, after Jessica has departed, Shylock gives the impression that he is

  1. The Merchant of Venice: Is Shylock a villain or a victim who deserves our ...

    Jews were also made to wear a yellow spot, or when covered, a yellow hat or turban, to identify themselves. This reminds us of the Star of David worn on the arms of the Jews during the Holocaust. However, during Shakespeare's time, most of these restrictions were lifted, and Venice

  2. Shakespeare presents Shylock as a deceitful schemer, two-faced and certainly evil-minded, this takes away ...

    During this part of the play where Shylock appears [Act II v], he is considered to be loving, caring and sentimental however, is it his money or his daughter that he loves more? The next scene in which Shylock appears is the scene where he finds out that Jessica, his

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

    says to Tubal, "I thank God, I thank God", and later when he admits he'll "torture him [Antonio]". At this point in the play Shylock is quite possibly at his most villainous, when he is anticipating that moment of revenge.

  2. Villain or victim? Discuss Shakespeares presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    to lose everything at the end as he really is a cold man and all he cares for is his fortune. Shylock is such a bitter man that he wishes Jessica was dead, 'I would my daughter dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear: would ...and the ducats in her coffin.'

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