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Shylock, Victim or Villain?

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Introduction

Shylock, Victim or Villain Shylock is the most interesting and yet confusing characters in Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice." He could be seen as just another villain in a story made to be hated by the audience so that his downfall later in the play can be a cheered at. Yet the character of Shylock is much deeper than the stereotypical evil Jewish moneylender, Shakespeare shows how he is a victim of racial discrimination especially from the "loveable" hero of the story Antonio. Shakespeare also suggests that it is this discrimination that forces Shylock to act in revengeful and greedy ways. In the very begging of the play Shylock displays himself as the stereotypical Jewish villain by saying "I hate him, for he is Christian" Shakespeare wrote this for a fully Christian audience in a time where ...read more.

Middle

Many other characters in the play vilify shylock even more; He is referred to as "devil" many times. One example of this is when his own daughter states, "Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil, Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness" this metaphoric statement comparing the house to hell and her father to the devil demonises Shylock by not only referring to him as the devil, also depriving him on any close human relationships by showing his own daughters dislike for the Jew. Shylock tries to defend himself with his own humanisation. This is interesting, as much of Shakespeare's audience would not have taken Shylocks views into account before. They would have seen him as an evil Jew and nothing more. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shylock demonstrates his own villainess by openly displaying his eagerness to extract a pound of flesh from Antonios bosom. This shows a new type of villainy in Shylock, rather than just greedy and Jewish, he is now bloodthirsty. Furthermore, his violence is directed at the hero Antonio, this would further enrage the audience against the Jew. To conclude Shakespeare created the character Shylock as a villain, his Jewish money-lending stereotype and hatred for any character loved by the audience made him an object to be jeered at by audience. However, Shakespeare tried to give Shylock a deeper side by illustrating him as a victim of what others see in him, a victim of racism. Yet in the time the play was written the British Christian audience would not have cared much for him, and his pleas for equality were possible sneered at. But this shows how Shakespeare was in a way a few centuries ahead of his time. ...read more.

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