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Shylock - Victim or Villain?

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Shylock Victim or villain? William Shakespeare wrote the merchant of Venice in the Elizabethan period. The play is a tragic-comedy. It is set in a place called Venice in the late 15th century. Venice is situated in the north east of Italy and is known as the 'Queen of Adriatic' for its strong naval power. The play is about Shylock a Jewish moneylender, who is trying to make a living in a community and a Country that despises him and alienates him! At the time when the Merchant of Venice was written England was a Christian country, all children would be baptised soon after they were born and were taught the basics at a very early age. Also at this time Christians hated Jews because of the profession of lending money and charging interests. Jews were isolated in England for being sinful to a great extent because Christians by religion were unable to lend money. Jews had become a money lending society because they were often forbidden to own land or work in businesses. So the only real job left to them were they could make a lot of money, was to lend money and charge interests. There was a great hatred between Christians and Jews in Venice; the Christians made the Jews live around the outskirts of Venice while they lived in the centre. ...read more.


he shall have a pound of Antonio's flesh (enough to kill him) ' let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut of and taken'. This would be Shylock's way of taking revenge on Antonio. Shylock says to Antonio 'You call me misbeliever, cut throat dog, and spit on my Jewish gabardine' this seems like a rather extravagant length to got to. This is a hint that shows that Shylock is being victimised, but I don't blame Antonio for saying this to him because up to now Shylock has been an evil, greedy, merciless old miser! So, after the bond has been made with Antonio, Shylock is left alone with no family, as Jessica his daughter elopes with Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio's. Shylock earns pity from the audience when he tells Bassanio that 'My daughter is my flesh and blood', meaning that with her gone it is as if a part of him has been taken too. He suddenly turns into a villain when he shouts showing his emotions ' my daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! Only Christian ducats!' This again shows his hatred for Christians and that his money has more value than his own daughter's life. ...read more.


The bond Shylock had created has ruined his plan for revenge. The tables are now turned, with Venetian law saying that a penalty must be paid by a murderer attempting to kill a Venetian. Still Shylock is classed as an alien in his own home. Shylock's possessions are confiscated because of the attempted murder of Antonio. Antonio humiliates Shylock by making two conditions for his life firstly he must become a Christian, and, secondly he must leave all his possessions to Lorenzo his enemy and Antonio, after he dies. Shylock is dishonoured and disgraced in the court scene, his only friend Tubal (also a Jew) walked out on him, as he ruthlessly cut into Antonio's flesh. Everything and every one have left Shylock, he is destroyed by his own doings, he is even isolated by his fellow Jews. Shylock can be seen as both comic and tragic because of his quick, inconsiderate responses. After all Shylock has done, I would class him as a villain. At the end of the play, Jessica, Shylock's daughter created a sort of harmony when she sings, as she is welcomed into the Christian community, She sings a Jewish song and is happy and content. This shows that the fact that Shylock is a Jew was not all his downfall, it was his evil villainous rage and while Jessica a Jew has found peace. ...read more.

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