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Shylock: Victim or Villain

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Merchant of Venice Shylock: Victim or Villain By the end of Act 4 scene 1, my view of Shylock is a man who wishes to get revenge at society by trying to take the flesh of a Venetian merchant because of the prejudices that are thrown at him. Shylock is a rich Jewish moneylender and a widow whose daughter has eloped with a Christian, Lancelot. Shylock is treated with the lowest kind of integrity and respect in Venice this was normal for Jews in the Victorian period since most of Europe was greatly Anti- Semis-tic. Shakespeare first introduces Antonio then Shylock, in Act 1 scene 1 Antonio is presented as a rich merchant who is a kind and loyal friend, as he has no money, Antonio goes to his enemy to retrieve some money, just for the matter of Bassanio to woe the heiress Portia who is in Belmont. From this, the audience perceives Antonio as a decent man with a positive and compassionate character. In Act 1 Scene 3, Antonio and Bassanio go to Shylock. When Shylock has seen that Antonio has come to borrow money, he takes advantage of the situation. Firstly, he does this by taunting Antonio about not charging interest when giving out money. Shylock does this by taking the story Jacob and his sheep out of the bible. The second way he does this is by reminding Antonio of the inhuman way he was treated through him, by stating, "You call me a misbeliever, a cut throat dog and spit upon my Jewish gabardine". This of course enrages Shylock, as it is insulting as well as humiliating. Antonio responds in a scornful and condescending behaviour to Shylock. ...read more.


hunger for revenge almost possesses him to the point that he will "..will better the instruction" as a result the endless continuation for revenge that has engulfed Shylock causes him to seen as a villain also the revengeful ending Shylock leaves at the end is what the audience keep in the mind. In Act 4 Scene 1 from the start, the duke speaks to Antonio first about the court case. This gives the impression that Antonio is the mostly favoured to win the court case because Shylock however na�ve he may be that he will win, is in an unfair trial. It is evident that duke supports Antonio because when the duke is speaking to Antonio, the duke refers to Shylock as "a stony adversary" and "an inhuman wretch". In addition, the duke shows no respect for Shylock because of the insult he has numerously applies (example made above). Also On frequent occasions, the duke identifies Shylock as "the Jew" this shows the Anti-Semitism that ruled over the court. The audience see the ill treatment that Shylock undergoes with all the Venetians but the duke, who is supposed to be neutral is however like everyone else and indubitably the audience are remorseful to Shylock. When Gratiano enquires a sudden outburst just at the start of the court case, it shows the lack of sympathy and the huge anger that the court bears against Shylock. The audience is shown this as Gratiano relates Shylock to violent animals such as "dogs" and "wolves" expressing that like an animal he is a cold-blooded hunter. Gratiano also puts into the speech the aspect that Shylock is behaving in this manner because an animal has taken over Shylock and like Shylock they only desires are "bloody, starv'd and ravenous". ...read more.


Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to bring about comedy in the play since when Nerissa and Portia dress up as men and the discontent of Portia giving up her life for Antonio when Bassanio declares him and his wife would. Portia also gives Bassanio a ring which she gives to him to know that he is faithful, but when she is the lawyer Portia declares to have the ring which brings humour to the audience as Bassanio has no idea that it's Portia and that is scared she might think that he is unfaithful. In conclusion Shylock is a victim of society's prejudices but the prejudices have inflicted and taken over his life to an extent of taking another person's life. Shylock is very na�ve in thinking that he would have been victorious since the Venetian law was put their not to benefit Jews but Venetians. Instead of Shylock asking for a pound of flesh he should have thought about turning Antonio into a Jew as then Antonio would have seen how thee prejudices of society affects the turn out of a person such as Shylock. Shakespeare uses contrast in Shylock's behavior as one time the audience views Shylock as a intelligent worthy man who is only driven by his anger and injustice while the other time the audience views him as a vindictive man hungry for revenge. There is great controversy if Shylock is a villain or victim. But in my view o see him a villain who has come to his own destruction and nevertheless is blinded by his revenge in turn leaving him lonely. However I see Shylock as a man only craving to be respected and happy to get on with his own life. ?? ?? ?? ?? Safiya Haji Hassan 11B/11.5 Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare ...read more.

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