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Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice - How much sympathy does Shylock deserve?

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Introduction

GCSE Assignment Essay - Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice How much sympathy does Shylock deserve? The Merchant of Venice is about a rich Christian merchant who borrows money from a Jewish moneylender to help his friend in marriage. Antonio borrows money from Shylock because Bassanio, one of Antonio's best friends, needed the money to impress Portia of Belmont. Although Antonio is rich, all his money is tied up in his business of shipping "Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea". Portia comes from a wealthy family, in her fathers will he says only the person who chooses the right casket can ask Portia's hand in marriage "the lottery that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you". Her father probably wanted someone like himself to marry his daughter. The bond that Shylock suggested was if Antonio didn't pay the money back in time at a certain place, he would have one pound of his flesh from where he chooses "If you repay me not on such a day, in such a place, such sum or sums as are expressed in the condition, let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me." ...read more.

Middle

Shylock gives an antiracial speech in Act 3 Scene 1 "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer a Christian is?" Shylock is saying this speech about Jews and Christians being the same; we feel much sympathy for him because his people are badly treated and he thinks they deserve the same rights. The audience must feel a sudden sympathy for all the Jews and more dislike for the Christians, why should human beings be treated differently because of their religion? One of Antonio's ships had sunk in the English Channel "Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wrecked on the Narrow Seas". He also had a ship wrecked in Tripolis "hath an argosy cast away coming from Tripolis." Antonio isn't able to pay the money back because of news that all of his ships had sunk. It turns out that his ships didn't all sink; but they still came too late. Finally Antonio and Shylock go to court, or the Dukes palace, to proceed with the bond, Act 4 Scene 1. The Duke reveals prejudices by calling Shylock names "A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, uncapable of pity, void and empty from any dram of mercy." ...read more.

Conclusion

The reader might of thought that no one would show Shylock any mercy. Every time Portia strikes she gets worse and worse, I think Shylock deserves a lot of sympathy and I think the reader would also give a lot of sympathy. Antonio doesn't want Shylocks money, but gives him a punishment "He presently becomes a Christian; the other, that he do record a gift, here in this court, of all he dies possessed unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter." The Duke refuses to let him live if he didn't accept it "He shall do this, or else I do recant the pardon that I late pronounc�d here" I think the punishment Antonio said was a bit severe and sudden, he's asking someone to change his religion and what he has believed all his life, and to give his money to his daughter who ran away from him. Shylock leaves a broken man; he doesn't feel well after all that has happened "I am not well." Throughout the story we feel sympathy for Shylock, but straight away he does something that we don't like. The court scene seemed to confirm my sympathy for Shylock; it stands because everyone is against him, he has lost a lot; although killing someone is wrong, he still can't even get revenge, all because he is a Jew. Jaja Yue 10c4 Wednesday 10th April 2002 Centre Number: 15243 ...read more.

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