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Shylock: Villain or Victim?

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Sam Bond GCSE English Essay/ Coursework 06/01/03 Shylock: Villain or Victim? Introduction In this essay I will look into the question of whether Shylock is villain or victim and then answer it with my own opinion. To do this I intend to examine the following, Shylock and the persecution of the Jews and by focusing on the courtroom scene and the formation of the bond scene. Previous history Jews have been previously persecuted even before 1500 in Spain, Rome, France, the Middle East, Western Europe and Austria. They have suffered exile, torture, conversion, been massacred and even had their land Israel taken by the Turks. The Plot The plot of this story, ~The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare, is as follows; Bassino, a noble Venetian gentleman, has spent all of his money. He wishes to amend his fortunes in order to marry Portia, a rich heiress, who lives in Belmont. He asks his friend Antonio, (the Merchant of Venice) ...read more.


This scene also portrays Shylock as a villain because of his desire for revenge in the form of the bond, (even when offered more money). Portia finds a legal loophole in the fact t6hat the bond states that only flesh is to be taken and not blood and because Shylock's action has threatened the life of a Venetian citizen, court action cannot incur the death penalty. Instead Shylock looses halve of his estate and wealth and is forced to become a Christian. I do not believe that the victim element of Shylock displayed through the persecution of his religion is fairly represented in Shakespeare's play because there is no description of the limited freedom and small locked away communities Jews were forced to live in at this time. However, there are some ways in which Shylock is fairly represented as a victim. For example, the way he is treated by Antonio who has spat on his coat. ...read more.


Also in reply a to why he wants the flesh he states "to bait fish with, it will feed nothing else it will feed my revenge". This intention to take life is very unforgiving and unlawful and again shows Shylock as lacking humanity. This is Shylocks most villainous trait as well as his constant repetition of the word 'revenge'. He also quotes "let him look to his bond" to prove that to take Antonio's flesh is his right. His love of wealth. Possibly more than the love of his daughter (which is shown when he says "my ducats, my daughter, my ducats") shows he possibly loves his ducats twice as much as his daughter and is yet another villainous trait. Conclusion I believe Shylocks both villain and victim because of the way he is largely represented as both in Act 3 Scene 1, in which we see his villainous and victim sides in the speech beginning "hath not a Jew...". This speech shows that Shylock has wronged in the form of wanting revenge and has been wronged by being persecuted. ...read more.

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