• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Shylock: Villain Or Victim

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Shylock: Villain Or Victim? Described by many as the most complex character Shakespeare ever created, all view him as a greedy moneylender who cares little for his daughter and whose only concern is to receive his pound of flesh from a respectable merchant. Shylock is not just the stereotypical villain but in spite of this the audience might feel that Shylock is a dignified god fearing man who is driven to revenge by the callous acts of Christians and also the theft of his only child and earned money from a Christian. Including when Shylock goes to seek justice he is degraded and dehumanised in front of his bitter enemies. However, in Shakespearean England anti-Semitism was rife. Jews were widely regarded as evil and the entire community had been expelled from England in 1290 and other countries shortly afterwards. They were not allowed to return until the mid-seventeenth century and therefore, there were no Jews in England in Shakespeare's time. Jews were persecuted worldwide and forced to live their lives in ghettos. Audiences from Shakespearean time who were predominately Christians would have been delighted in viewing the Christians defeat him, where as in our today's society is multicultural and diverse hence they may have a much different opinion on this topic. Depicted as a villain to many readers Shylock shows his hatred towards Antonio and Christians evident of this quotation where in the first scene he says in aside to ...read more.

Middle

night she is due to elope with Lorenzo and Jessica appears to be rather nervous - showing that Shylock is not a very attentive father and family orientated as well as intelligent among family members. This states again how weak and broken their relationship really is. Shylock could be considered to be very cold and brutal towards to his only daughter. Perhaps even Shylock is too preoccupied with generating yet more wealth to concern himself with his only daughter. This view of him as self-serving and avaricious is compounded by his reaction to his daughter eloping with a Christian. He is outraged that she has left and has stolen his money. He says; 'I would my daughter were dead at my foot.' Act II Scene v. Again Shylock portrays himself in an unsympathetic way, as vindictive and villainous. He wishes for the death of his own daughter as the price for her treachery and even goes so far as to wish that the ducats were in the coffin with her dead body as evidence of what she has done. This shows Shylock to be a cold, heartless man, utterly devoid of parental feeling, who is focused purely on revenge and money. Antonio had accepted the offer with a lawyer present and a witness present therefore understanding the consequences in place after accepting such an offer. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, his only daughter elopes with a Christian which is also one of his persecutors. She steals his money and the ring his wife gave him. It seems justified that he should feel betrayed and hurt. Shylock only demanded a bond that Antonio had accepted to and it could be argued that if Antonio was not willing to die, then why did he consent to Shylocks contract or bond in the first place. We can only guess at the way in which Shakespeare intended Shylock to be portrayed. He becomes throughout the play, an increasingly lone figure and is portrayed by Shakespeare to be in some ways very 'human'. This essay feels that Shakespeare intended Shylock to be a victim, however it can also be argued that Shakespeare himself decided to show Shylock completely defeated at the end of the play, and to not even have his religion to hold on to, that indicates Shylock to be to an extent a villain; moreso this essy believes he was created to challenge the pre-conceptions and ideologies of the Elizabethan era. In addition this essay believes that he is not a villain because he inspires too much emapthy in an audience to ever be that. Having said this, This essay feels that it is not productive for us to simply categorise Shylock as either victim or villain. Through Shylock, Shakespeare explores the way in which the line between the oppressed and the oppressor can become vague. Manu Nair 11Y2 Ms Alexander 1729 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. The Merchant of Venice Coursework Essay - Shylock; Victim or Villain

    that he loses both his revenge and the money "Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture, to be so taken at thy peril, Jew" From a gloating man, triumphant in the prospects of revenge, Portia has stripped Shylock of all he hoped to gain, and still she is not satisfied.

  2. 'How does Shakespeare present Shylock to the audience as both a stereotype and a ...

    She wants to be spontaneous and have fun, and her father forbids her from doing so and this is why she decides she has to abandon her father. Why should she stay with her father and be miserable? On the other hand, Shylock feels he puts his daughter's good interest in mind but he does refuse to listen to Jessica.

  1. Explore the conflicting responses, which the character of Shylock provokes in the audience. How ...

    Antonio's waiting torso before declaring her knowledge: 'Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more but just a pound of flesh: if thou tak'st more or less than a pound...thou diest, all thy goods are confiscate.' After Portia has declared this, the suspense is cleared.

  2. And they all lived happily ever after (except Shylock...), to what extent was Shylock's ...

    I would argue that, with the understanding that until now Shylock has never retaliated, he is actually a very tolerant man; he has been highly provoked and there is a limit to what every wo/man can put up with. It is no wonder that Shylock is looking for revenge...

  1. "How might modern audiences react to Shylock's fate in the trial scene?"

    In this passage, Shylock's true feelings are revealed; about how he disapproves so much of the racism he has been shown, and how he is so clearly angry at this. He says "The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."

  2. In your opinion is Shylock a villain or a victim of the society he ...

    makes Shylock look like he is planning something, for example how to get revenge on Antonio, also in the beginning of the act Shylock seems to come across as an evil character, this is when he is first introduced into the play.

  1. In your opinion does Shakespeare portrayShylock as a victim or a villain

    " I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him." This quote shows how Shylock will make this old grudge between Jews and Christians grow and how eventually he wants to avenge this grudge, and in turn make Antonio pay.

  2. Is Shylock a victim or a villain?

    As Antonio doesn't charge interest, people go to him to lend money instead of Shylock. Antonio isn't sorry for the brutal way he's acted towards Shylock. Shylock identifies with his religion totally, and is completely dedicated to its rules. He's just a religious man who is discriminated against because of his faith.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work