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Shakespeare Essay - Shylock: Villain or Victim? In the Merchant of Venice.

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Introduction

Shakespeare Essay - Shylock: Villain or Victim? William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon around 23rd April 1564 and died in Stratford fifty two years later. He married once to a woman named Anne Hatheway with whom he had three children; the eldest, Susanna and twins, Hamnet and Judith. The Globe theatre was where all of Shakespeares productions were staged, it was built in 1599. "The Merchant of Venice" was one of many successful Shakespeare plays, it was written between 1594 - 1598. The title page of "The Merchant of Venice" describes, very vaguely, the story line, "The most excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Iewe towards the sayd Merchant, in cutting a Iust pound of his flesh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyce of three chests. As it hath been divers times acted by the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. Written by William Shakespeare." This describes the basic story line to all the audience members. As basically all of the audience would be Christian, it would please them to hear that the Jew in the play is portrayed as being evil. ...read more.

Middle

It deals with many of the main topics of the play such as Jessica and Lorenzos elopement and the "flesh bond". Shylocks relationship with his daughter is not a healthy one, this is shown in Act 2 Scene 3 where Shylock announces that "Our house is hell" - there are obviously a lot of family difficulties arising (possibly Jessicas elopement.) Jessica tells him that she is ashamed of being his daughter in Act 2 Scene 3 which shows Shylock more as a victim. I believe that Shylock has a lot of love for his daughter although he does not like to show it. This is questioned, though, in Act 2 Scene 8 where he is debating to himself what is more important to him money or Jessica, "O my daughter, O my ducats, O my daughter, O my ducats" this shows that his money is equally as important to him as his daughter is and there is repetition as well - another sign of villainy. As the scene opens, Solanio and Salerio enter to tell of the unsuccessful ships, they also take the opportunity to insult Shylock some more by calling him "the Jew" instead of his name. ...read more.

Conclusion

towards the end of it he becomes very desperate and has to start begging to be allowed to leave the court. All of this shows that Shylock is clearly a very weak character and victimised, but he has been and incredibly villainous throughout the rest of the play. Shakespeare chooses not to put him into the final Act/Scene, this shows that he clearly was not the hero of the play and proves that he has in fact failed. Having looked at all the appropriate evidence given from the three key scenes that involve Shylock I have come to the conclusion that he is the victim of the play. Although he does show various villainous characteristics such as wanting to continue with the flesh bond and kill Antonio. But in the end he is insulted more than any Jew could ever be insulted, being told that he must become Christian. All that happens to Shylock, the amount of insults and discrimination and racism towards him counts up to be enough to say that he is the victim of the play. His daughter ran away from him, he lost his servant (Lancelot) and worst of all he lost his religion and faith. James Gant Shylock: Villain or Victim? Shakespeare essay February 2003 1 1 ...read more.

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