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Shylock is more sinned against than sinning. Do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

Shylock is more sinned against than sinning. Do you agree with this statement? William Shakespeare wrote The merchant of Venice in the Elizabethan period. It was written as a play and this is reflected in the exaggeration of some of the scenes. At the time the play was written anti-Semitism was common, this again is reflected by the attitudes of the characters. In theory at the time this play was written only Jews who had converted to Christianity were allowed in England at the time. This may be one of the reasons it is set in Venice. Lancelot Gobbo describes Shylock as the very 'devil incarnation'. Weather this is true or not it establishes the Christian's diabolical view of Shylock as evil, this view is repeated throughout the play by almost all the main characters. This is reflected in the relationship between Antonio and Shylock. Antonio is a merchant who works hard for his money sending vessels all over the world. Shylock lends money to people and lives off the interest he charges. ...read more.

Middle

A wolf only kills so that it can feed and survive. Shylock does not need to kill to live but maybe he feels he does in order to survive in a society with so much prejudice stacked against him and his beliefs. Even Bassanio who at times is portrayed to the audience as na�ve and foolish suspects Shylocks character. He warns Antonio not to enter into the bond 'For I like not fair terms and a villain's mind' Act 1 scene 3 line 172 This is quite out of character for this young man who does not always appear to think of the consequences of his actions. It sounds more like something that Antonio would say. But Antonio can't say it if he is going to fall for shylock's 'fair terms'. I think Shakespeare wanted to get this line in to build up suspicion and suspense around the character of shylock; this is why Bassanio speaks the line. Even Shylocks daughter Jessica is 'Ashamed to be my father's child.' Act 2 scene 3 line 16 She must know shylock better than anyone. ...read more.

Conclusion

Maybe this is justified as later on in the trial scene he sees how Bassanio and Gratiano betray their wives by giving away their rings given to them by their wives. I believe that weather Shylock sinned or was sinned against is a highly debatable subject. Yet I have come to the conclusion that he was more sinned against than sinning. He has taken abuse from almost all the characters in the play; he has been discriminated against for no reason except being a Jew. As soon as he seeks revenge (legally) he is described as evil. His situation in this play is best described in his speech in act three scene one, 'If you prick 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? Shylock is making a plea to their shared humanity. He is trying to make them see that they are all equal and should be treated so, the very basis of the Christian religion. This is all he wants, he tries to make them see through words but they do not listen, he is forced into an alternative. ...read more.

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