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Shylock: Victim or Villain.

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Introduction

Shylock: Victim or Villain In The Merchant of Venice, the part of Shylock, a money lending Jew, is one which carries many emotions, pain, joy, cruelty and loss. His character's contrary attributes mean that one moments sorrow for Shylock can turn to hate in the blink of an eye. In this essay, I must come to a conclusion on whether I see Shylock as a victim or a villain, using the metaphoric scales of judgement to outweigh the good with the bad, or visa versa. The first scene where we see Shylock is when Antonio comes to borrow money for Bassanio. In this scene there are many contrasting emotions. The first thing we note is that he refuses to eat with Christians, ''I will buy with you, sell with you, and so following: but I will not eat with you, drink with you or pray with you.'' The first way this could be taken is in that he is simply being condescending and rude by saying this because he thinks that Christians are below his standard, but upon deeper inspection, I think he is only acknowledging his religious beliefs because Jews cannot eat food which is not kosher, drink alcohol or pray to other Gods. ...read more.

Middle

the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in whatever part of your body pleaseth me.'' To ask for such a forfeit shows the deep-rooted hatred that Shylock holds for Christians, in this statement it is unquestionable that Shylock is a villain. Shylock's daughter is a large area of Shylock's life and his loathing of Christians is fortunately not taken up by her. It seems that Jessica has a difficult life with her father and she abhors his rules and religion as she has fallen in love with a Christian that her father would never let her marry. As a last resort she decides to run away with Lorenzo, her lover. This alone would be hard for a father to come to terms with, but she steals his money also. This makes us feel compassionate for Shylock and we feel that he has been done an injustice so as a result he is seen as a victim. Here Shylock shows us again that under his cold surface is only a man, ''I am a Jew, hath not a Jew eyes? ...read more.

Conclusion

At first Shylock wins the case, he is ready to kill Antonio and has been sharpening his knife on the sole of his shoe. This shows that he would have actually gone through with the punishment, when the tables are turned. Shylock finds himself the victim of a loophole and ends up on the receiving end of the law, he says, ''Nay take my life and all, pardon not that, you take my house, when you do take the prop that doth sustain my house you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live.'' Not only is half his estate taken but his religion also and Antonio's malice for Shylock is shown. Here Shylock is despaired, and he is shown finally as a victim. In conclusion, though Shylock has suffered deeply, all the problems he is subject to other than the racism of the Christians, is brought upon himself. His unrelenting callousness is enough to convict Shylock of villainy as he attempts to persecute those who have wronged him in the most terminal of ways, death. In this I feel Shylock is a villain. ...read more.

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