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Shylock: Victim or Villain?

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Introduction

Shylock: Victim or Villain? For this coursework I will be studying Shylock and if he is a victim or villain or indeed both. For the past term, I have been studying "The Merchant of Venice" and how he relates to other characters very closely to get a real feeling what about Shylock's personality is like. Jews in Venice had formed strong communities taking pride in their religion. Jews were known as being intelligent, hard working people who had a good business sense in the real world, However not everyone liked the Jews. Shylock also had to endure cruelty from the Christians of Venice and Shakespeare specifically focuses on Antonio and the Court's treatment to him. Shylock suffers constant verbal abuse which he has to endure. Antonio's treatment by his fellow Venetians is a great example of what Jews have had top put up with over the previous centuries, being called a "faithless Jew" meaning they are cruel, evil people. Everyday Shylock would have to endure this constant abuse from every angle making him feel like an outsider. The verbal abuse would suggest Shylock should die with the public calling him "old carrion" this would make Shylock feel small in the 16th Century. Shylock is described as a person with no feelings going around the street taking no notice of other people; this is shown by the public calling him a "misbeliever". ...read more.

Middle

Jessica running away with a Christian Lorenzo will make Shylock embarrassed that his own daughter has betrayed their faith and himself. After all, Shylock goes through to support his belief his daughter runs away with the people who treats him like a dog. Shylock shows is devastation, "My own flesh and blood to rebel". I feel for Shylock as Jessica was his own family and to betray him will leave Shylock nothing, also the Christians who shout verbal abuse at him everyday will exploit this matter saying how even his own daughter does no care for him. It turns out Jessica also steals a diamond ring from Shylock which was his dead Wife's, "a diamond gone cost me two thousand ducats in Frankcort". Shylock has been betrayed by his daughter running off with a Christian and now stealing from him. In Act four, Scene 1, I will be studying the court room scene. Outside the court room the Duke goes behind Shylock's back before the case has started and calls Shylock a "stony adversary" to Antonio. It seems that the Duke already has made his assumption of Shylock by describing him as a stone to Shylocks enemy Antonio. The Duke suggests that Shylock is going to do anything to punish Antonio as he has lost his money, for the Duke to talk about Shylock behind his back suggests he has already took a side. ...read more.

Conclusion

after all he goes through to back his religion he now must agree to become a Christian in order to take this pound of flesh from Antonio. In conclusion I feel Shylock was a victim because of the ancient grudge that was brought out in the 'Merchant of Venice' showing the hate towards Jews from the Christians which lead towards Shylock acting more as a victim more than a villain. However, some people especially the Elizabethan audience would see Shylock as a villain as he is a Jew and has a very evil side to him which is strongly shown by demanding a pound of flesh from Antonio. Shylock being a victim is clearly shown in the courtroom scene when it seems everyone is against him for him being a Jew and then an undercover judge Portia very cleverly makers Shylock agree to taking a pound of flesh then saying he must not draw a single drop of Christian blood in which Shylock then wants to take the money but can not because it will mean breaking the bond, this shows how Shylock was a victim especially in the court room. Shakespeare gave Shylock a mixture of emotions making people question if he is a victim or villain but overall I feel there are more points that Shylock is indeed a victim strongly backed by the evil cruelty by the Christians towards to Jews. ...read more.

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