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Merchant of Venice Shylock - Victim or Villain

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Introduction

Shylock-Victim or Villain It is difficult to describe Shylock as a victim or a villain as there are many things that you can say for each. At the end of the play some of the audience may felt strongly that Shylock is a victim. However if had been able to get what he wanted people may have felt that he was more of a villain, if he had been able to get his pound of flesh. Throughout the play he has been very much a victim, but has also been quite a villain in parts of the play, and to some of the people who are close to him. To start off with him being a villain, he is a villain to Antonio, as he wants him dead. As this is one of the opening scenes the audience must feel that Shylock is a villain, but they should also be able to see his reasons for it. 'You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gabardine,' (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 106-107) Antonio has also spat on him, and kicked him, just because he does not have the same religion as Antonio, but the things Antonio does to Shylock are really nasty. ...read more.

Middle

Even though his daughter has run away from him, and stolen from him, he could still forgive her and still have the relationship as before, even if it is against his religion, he would be able to do it for his daughter, but Shylock would rather have his money and his jewels back, than have his daughter. Now he appears not to care about his daughter at all, but he has his pride. When the play gets to the court scene, you can tell from Antonio's strange behaviour, and what he says, he just wants to get a it over with and basically let Shylock win, so he will get his pound of flesh. 'Let me have judgement and the Jew his will. (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 83) When Shylock enters the courtroom, you can tell that no one is on his side, and he has no friends, as even the Duke does not call him by his real name. 'Go one and call the Jew in to the court.' (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 14) You may even feel now that Shylock won't even get a fair trial, but everyone is going to try and find a way possible for Shylock not to get Antonio's pound of flesh. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the end Shylock got left with nothing, and from seeing all this, you have to agree that Shylock has rightly been a victim, as from losing everything, to his possessions to his daughter, and even his own religion. However you have to look at this both ways, if Shylock went through with the bond and actually took a pound of flesh from Antonio, Shylock would be very much the villain. I feel that Shylock has been badly treated, as he should be treated the same as everybody, despite his religion, I also feel that Shylock would not of wanted to kill Antonio, if Antonio had done nothing to Shylock in the first place. For the audience viewing this in the present they can see that Shylock has been badly treated, and has been a victim, and can see his reasons for wanting to kill Antonio. People today are still prejudiced, but that is only a few minorities of the people, and even still it probably won't happen to the extent of what happened to Shylock, and Shylock would not get treated the way he did. However, when the audience saw the play when Shakespeare was alive, things were a lot different. The stunts that happened to Shylock were normal, and the audience had to feel that he was very much a villain in trying to kill Antonio, and he deserved what happened to him. ...read more.

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