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Shylock - Victim or Villain?

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Merchant of Venice - Shylock, Villain or Victim? In the Merchant of Venice, which is written by William Shakespeare, Shylock is presented in a variety of ways. For instance, some people regard Shylock as a villain, as he demands a pound of flesh. However, other people regard Shylock as a victim, as he loses everything (such as his ring, his daughter who ran away, and being made to convert to Christianity). The history on Jews is perhaps maybe the reason that that Jews are treated so badly, and perhaps the reason for the Christian's distaste towards all Jews, including Shylock. Shylock is first introduced to the show when Bassanio and Antonio come to his help to lend money. Our first impressions of Shylock are villainous, as he says "I hate him, as he is a Christian!". Also, he mutters "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him!" which indicates that if Shylock has any chance to destroy Antonio, he will choose that option, without hesitation. The effect of using the word "I" makes the action very personal, and portrays a very directed and vicious verbal attack. Antonio also indicates that Shylock is a villain, because he says "the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, An evil soul, producing holy witness"which gives the impression of a villainous Shylock to the audience. When Shylock names the terms of the bond, he is states it in a very villainous way. ...read more.


Because of a combination of these two lines, this portrays Shylock in even a more bad light towards the audience, and Shylock loses some more sympathy. He is also shown to be very murderous, when he desires his daughter dead, as seen in this passage: "I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear!" To the audience, this shows how evil he is, even willing to kill his own flesh and blood. In the next line, Shylock is shown enjoying in Antonio's plight, and is the only time so far he becomes lively again after the loss of his daughter. This is shown when Shylock exclaims "I thank God, I thank God! - Ts't true, is't true?" and "I am very glad of it: - I'll plague him I'll torture him. The second line makes Shylock sound sadistic, as he plots (viciously) on how to punish Antonio, rather than just deal a punishment which is light. However, the audience have mixed feelings about Shylock and can see him as a victim. The first is when Shylock says "He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses; mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies" which makes the audience feel very sorry for him, as he has lost many friends and money because of one person, all because of his religion, which he can't do anything about. ...read more.


When Shylock and Antonio are sealing the bond, Antonio refers to Shylock as "the devil...an evil soul... a goodly apple rotten at the heart". He also refers to Shylock as "misbeliever... cut-throat dog" which is powerful language, linking that Shylock doesn't believe in the correct religion or that he is very two sided. Also, in the courtroom scene, instead of referring to Shylock by his name he calls him "jew". This is seen when the duke says "... call the Jew into the court". In another instance, Gratiano calls Shylock "inexorable dog" which suggests that Shylock is no longer a person, he is a dog. Gratiano treats Shylock very harshly, by saying "Now, infidel, I have you on the hip" which suggests, that all along, the Christians value the Jews as something less, or inferior to them. This combination of language portrays Shylock as a villain. Through the following use of quotes and the use of language by Shakespeare, we can see how the different views of Shylock are portrayed. He may seem villainous at times, however, this can be argued that Shylock is traumatized over the loss of his daughter, and hey maybe be justified over this. On the other hand, he appears to be very vicious and appears to have no mercy. From the combination of these two, Shylock is deemed a villain at certain points in the story, while at other times he is deemed a victim either by consequence of his actions or by his religious standing. ?? ?? ?? ?? Bryan Tan 11P English Shylock - Villain or Victim ...read more.

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