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"Shylock is arguably Shakespeare's most evil creation"

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"Shylock is arguably Shakespeare's most evil creation" In the light of this statement do you condemn or pity Shylock, comment on the dramatic effectiveness of this character. Although there are various sub plots in the Merchant of Venice, Shylock plays a very central role, interacting with almost all of the other characters to some degree. I believe that Shakespeare has carefully crafted the character of Shylock in great detail. He makes Shylock both a Jew and a money lender, both of these things were despised by many Christians at the time this was written. Shylock is introduced to the audience as a controversial character. All his traits and characteristics are very deliberate. The character of Shylock is frequently used by Shakespeare to build sympathy from the audience, which he quickly removes again. This helps to keep the audience thinking about him and it helps to keep the audience interested in the plot. Shylock first appears as a cautious business man who lets us know how badly he has been treated by Antonio, but we become aware that there is also professional rivalry between the two. ...read more.


If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison Us do we not die?" These rhetorical questions asked of the audience while they require no answer it is almost impossible to disagree with anything said. Shakespeare uses this speech to give us something in common with shylock, to bond us to him to sympathise with him. Shylocks speech makes the plight of the Jews personal, he makes a direct comparison of Jews and Christians as people. This emotive speech builds up a lot of sympathy towards Shylock, the audience begin to feel sorry for him, but he then goes on to say; "The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." This tirade shows Shylocks bitter, vengeful side again losing him much of the sympathy he has gained. Before the trial the Duke describes Shylock as "an inhuman wretch." He shows no mercy despite many pleas for it. "If every ducat in six thousand ducats Were in six parts, and every part of a ducat, I would not draw them. ...read more.


Shylocks affection for his late wife is evident when he is distressed that Jessica has parted with her mothers ring, a thing most precious to Shylock, for a monkey! This shows a deep and tender side of Shylock, we wonder if it is the way life has treated him that has made him bitter, or if it is simply in his nature. "It was my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness Of monkey." This shows he is upset about the ring leaving him feeling bitter about Jessica. "I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the Jewels in hr ear! Would she be hearse at my foot, an the ducats in her coffin!" Shakespeare shows us on the one hand the prejudice which Shylock is faced with but on the other hand, we see how bitter and twisted he can be, his revenge knows no boundaries. Much of Shylocks behaviour merits condemnation, but we hold back because of the prejudice he has to endure. Much of the sympathy built up in the play for Shylock is knocked down by his behaviour and attitude immediately after, but he stands alone and turns out to be his own worst enemy, so I pity him. ...read more.

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