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

Shylock: Victim or Villain?

Extracts from this document...


Shylock: Victim or Villain? A key feature of the play 'The Merchant Of Venice' is the issue of whether Shylock is a victim or a villain. This issue is raised at many crucial points most of which can be separated into the categories victim or villain. Act 1 Scene 3 displays Shylock as a sensible business man. This is our first introduction of Shylock and therefore produces our first impressions. The first point where Shylocks' character is revealed in detail is during his soliloquy of lines 37 - 48. At this point Shylock gives an aside to the audience which no character can hear. We learn a lot about Shylocks' behaviour toward Antonio and Christians in general. This shows a man who wants revenge and who is desperate to get his own back, as the text says; 'Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!' This shows that Shylock feels it his duty to his nation (the Jews) to seek revenge on Antonio. This entire speech displays Shylock as a villain, a heartless man who is not willing to forgive. During Act1 Scene 3 our feelings toward Shylock change dramatically. ...read more.


This shows Shylock in a bad light and presents Shylock, again as a villain. This is the second opinion of Shylock from another character and possible the most profound as Jessica is Shylock daughter. Act 2 Scene 8 displays a third characters picture of Shylock Solanio begins to describe the words that he heard Shylock scream. Shylock shouts out 'Justice' and it is clear he will have no mercy for Antonio. This reinforces Shylock's villainous side and offers us a Christian stand-point. These three acts all consider other characters views of Shylock, all of which, on face value, show him to be a villain. There is one point we must consider before assuming this. All these characters are Christian, except Jessica who is under Christian influence. This is likely to show that feelings toward Shylock are based on Christian prejudice and not well informed opinions. There is no escaping the fact that when encountered by 3rd party opinion, we can only see Shylock as a villain. Does Shylock really act as poorly toward others as most characters believe? There are several scenes which focus on Shylocks attitude toward Jessica and the emotional impact her actions have on him, an alternative view-point. ...read more.


Again we see a villainous side to Shylock which back-fires as a technicality is found in the case, which saves Antonio. The 'tables are turned' and know ironically, Shylock begs for mercy, he is of course shown mercy, 'Christian mercy'. ' When Shylock looses the court case we expect him to walk home, head hung low, but the Christians do not allow this. Shylock is forced to make a will in favour of Lorenzo and become a Christian, which to Shylock means going to hell. If a Jew disgraced his religion (by becoming a Christian) he would be damned to hell. Shylock would rather be dead than be a Christian. This treatment is very cruel and far too extreme. We feel for Shylock and he is seen as a victim. To conclude, it is very easy to see Shylock as a victim or a villain. It does seem though that anytime he acts in a villainous way it is caused by extreme pressure and prejudice from the Christians. This villainous side is not the true Shylock. Shylock is a kind decent man, a good father. He is merely cursed by a Jewish background, struggling to survive in a Christian world. James Wilson 08/05/2007 - 1 - ...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. Peer reviewed

    Shylock - villian or victim?

    4 star(s)

    He begins the play as a wealthy Jewish money-lender, scorned by Venetians for making money off charging interest and, even more so, for his religion: the other characters usually refer to Shylock simply as "the Jew." He is subjected in the play to a string of indignities: he is endlessly

  2. Explore the conflicting responses, which the character of Shylock provokes in the audience. How ...

    He makes it clear that he is in control and the bond is made to seem far more important to Antonio and Bassanio than it is to Shylock. This is a dramatic device used by Shakespeare that is used to create an image of Shylock.

  1. Is Shylock portrayed as a Victim or a Villain?

    Portia, then, strikes the blow then with sinister accuracy at Shylock by saying "If thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate unto the state of Venice." Gratiano is the first to reply to this by making a mockery of Shylock, by saying "O upright judge!

  2. Shylock: Victim or Villain?

    "many a time and oft", meaning many times before has Antonio stood in public and treated him like he is nothing. Antonio "rates" Shylock meaning that he insults him in a public place and many times has he ignored it, "Still have I borne it with a patient shrug".

  1. Shylock: victim or villain?

    daughters belonged to their fathers until they were married, usually with their father's permission. For Jessica to do both of these things without Shylock's knowledge and permission would suggest to Venetian society that he had no control over his daughter.

  2. Shylock: Victim or Villain

    - Why Jessica I say". Poor Jessica cannot help wondering what a " heinous sin is it in me is it to be ashamed to be my fathers child?". So unhappy is she that she plans to leave her father, marry Lorenzo and convert to Christianity.

  1. Shylock - Victim or Villain?

    This might be the reason that Jessica eventually decides to revolt. In this light, we see him as a villain, for thinking of treating his own daughter as a possession. Also, Launcelot paints a very bad impression of Shylock by saying "My master's a very Jew" which means that Shylock is a demanding master.

  2. Do you think Shylock is a victim or a villain?

    "He who is well paid that is well satisfied". Shylock on the other hand, would never refuse payment. Against all this very real generosity, a Christian sense of charity towards others is set the cold and calculating character of Shylock.

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