• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Shylock, if he is a victim or villain of his religious prejudice. The Merchant of Venice

Extracts from this document...


Victim? Or Villain? Intro... In this essay I aim to show the truth about Shylock, if he is a victim or villain of his religious prejudice. As a Jew, in the play Shylock is the victim of racism, at this time, it is the 1500s so Jews were persecuted most of the time. In the play "The merchant of Venice" Antonio the Christian won the court battle against Shylock, whereas if Shylock would have won, the crowd watching the play in the 1500s would consider the play to be biased and would throw food as an act of disgrace and anger to the actors. Christians persecuted Jews in the 16-century and even now because they are different in lifestyles and beliefs. To Christians Jews are Aliens. Shylock was probably the only well known Jew in Venice so he got a lot of Anti-Semitism from not only Antonio but others as well, he was very unhappy, yet proud of his faith, so becoming a Christian would be a big defeat, not only for himself but for his faith that he has any control over. Shylock is a victim of his persecution, yet a villain for his revenge, he gets too carried away with reprisal. A Christian stereotype of a Jew is of greed, revenge and of selfishness. And at times he becomes too engulfed in greed and vengefulness and doesn't stop till he gets what he wants. In this play he becomes too engulfed in vengeance and hatred for Antonio, so he doesn't bother to notice that his daughter has run away with lots of his money and her mothers jewellery. ...read more.


Shylock suffers mental torment because he is always confused by what he is going to do, and the aftermath is usually in Antonio's advantage, by Shylock becoming too self centred and vengeful towards Antonio and other Christians. The three witches in Macbeth told him he would be the king, Shylock had a vague idea of that, he pounced on Antonio when he least expected it, it was very effective, behind Antonio's back he planned it. Luckily Portia and Bassanio saved Antonio. Shylock has had the desire to do evil since the beginning of the play and has focused his attention on Christians in particular. The desire to do wicked things probably started because he had been persecuted for so long, he thought it was 'payback'. When Shylock "If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge!" This quote proves how greedy and manipulative he is. "If you prickle us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" This quote that Shylock says is saying that Jews or any other race/religion are not any different to anyone else, a quote like this would have made anyone question themselves to what they are going to say next in reply to it. Shylock asides and soliloquies because he wants the audience to feel his emotions of anger or dismay. Also trying to get the audience to see through the bad in him, showing he can be a good, gentle person. ...read more.


It was not fair that he was fighting the whole of Venice on his own to stay alive. So, to be fair he did deserve to have revenge, but the idea he had in mind, was going to cost him, a lot! Antonio should have not got away with everything; Shylock should have at least been left with some pride (his religion). Shylock the way he did in self-defence, therefore he was right to do so, it was for his own protection and of his faith. But, he became too egotistical and tried to push his luck by trying to kill Antonio, by doing it he jeopardised his life and it cost him. Many people would conclude that Shylock got what he deserved but it was not his fault. We are all human; we are at some time greedy and vengeful. Shylock only wanted to have a life and to have a life. But Antonio was sick of him and took advantage of this. Certain things lead to another, if Shylock had not lent Antonio the money, Portia would not have married Bassanio, and beet Shylock in the court case, however Shylock would not have been able to rid himself of Antonio, though shylock would still be a Jew otherwise. So really if it had been the other way round Shylock would have been better off. And Bassanio would not have been able to go to Belmont and marry Portia, so to Shylock it would have been an advantage, and he would have left Bassanio in dismay, if I were Shylock (a Jew) I would be happy with that. ...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 - Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    Most people knew about Jews not through personal experience but through the facts and myths that were handed down through generations, and it is probable that Shakespeare had learnt about them in the same way. Historically, Jews in England were not allowed to own land or have professional careers.

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

    On a contrasting view of this scene, Shylock does make an extremely moving and emotive speech, starting "Hath not a Jew eyes?" The speech makes a very valid point that anyone, regardless of race, creed or faith is a person.

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

    She also probably took them because they can have more use out of it than he can, like start up a new family. You don't need lots of money and Jewels like Shylock, to be happy. But it clearly shows from Shylock's reactions, how much of a selfish and mean man he really is.

  2. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Shylock in the Merchant of Venice- villain or victim?

    If he takes the merest too much or too little of Antonio's flesh and spills even a drop of Antonio's blood, then he loses his goods and his life. Naturally, he declines and prepares to depart with nothing. However, the law has yet another hold on him.

  1. 'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a ...

    As seek to soften that - than which whats harder? His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you make no more offers." This quote shows how Antonio feels and in addition shows how he doesn't understand why Shylock is so unforgiving.

  2. "The Merchant of Venice": Shylock: Victim or Villian?

    Being self-centred adds to Shylock's unattractive qualities. His selfishness and feeling of self importance is ironic as later on he will be seen all alone, having driven everyone out of his life. Considering this, we do not feel much sympathy for Shylock as he is clearly a villain, morally, in the way he mistreats others.

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

    From all that I have written so far, he seems to be a clever person. Shylock doesn't react angrily to Antonio's comment of him as a "devil", one of many times he does this, he simply reminds him of how harshly Antonio has treated him in the past, stating to

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

    Because most of the other characters in the play are Christians, and therefore dislike Shylock, we see their image of him, which is obviously going to be negative. However, through the use of asides, Shylock reveals some of his inner thoughts to the audience, which is the only time we get to see what Shylock is really feeling.

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