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Shylock- Villain or Victim?

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Introduction

Introduction One of the most interesting and dramatic characters in 'The Merchant of Venice' is the rich, despised money-lending Jew Shylock. It is impossible to judge Shylock's character by our own modern Standards, simple because Shakespeare wrote this play for play goers in Elizabethan times. This was very different to modern times for two reasons. Firstly, people watching the play would not find it strange to feel sorry for a character, then a few moments later, to be screaming for their blood! Secondly, nearly everyone in Shakespeare's time was racist, and it was common for people to dislike Jews and think of them of villainous. I think that Shylock is both a villain and a Victim. Shakespeare purposefully meant Shylock to be as villainous and victimised as possible, to make the play as dramatic as he could and the most emotion from the crowd. In the 'Merchant of Venice', Shylock's character holds the key to a great tragedy. According to Aristotle's theory of tragedy, there must be 'the fall of the great man'. Shylock is greatly respected within his tribe, is very rich and looses all that he has at the end of the play. Essay The audience's knowledge of Jews would have been mostly from Marlowe's play; Jew of Malta. ...read more.

Middle

He would do this because he hates the rat and wants revenge on it. Antonio is like the rat to Shylock because he troubles him, and is like a disease brought upon his 'home' meaning the City of Venice. When Shylock is glad of Antonio's lose, he is extremely excited about finally getting his revenge, knowing that he has waited, tolerantly and patiently, for a chance to kill Antonio. Shakespeare makes it clear then that Shylock will not settle for anything other than other than Antonio's fair flesh', and his bond. "I'll have my bond, speak not against my bond." Shylock speaks to Antonio. "If every ducat in six thousand ducats Were in six parts and every part a ducat, I would not draw them: I would have my bond!" Shylock is stubborn and determined not to give in when Bassanio offers him six thousand ducats. Shylock is greatly affected with the first of his great losses, his daughter, Jessica, who ran off with a Christian, along with his money and jewels. This may be the turning point in the Jew's luck, the first step to his downfall. Shylock is unbelievably angry with Jessica, and even more so when the expensive search party cannot find her. ...read more.

Conclusion

This could portray him as a villain because he has turned his back on his faith in order to protect himself. It also shows that what Shylock has just said about 'An oath in heaven' and 'laying perjury on his soul' did not mean enough in the end to keep to the bond himself. Overall, I think that it is very hard to categorise Shylock as either a villain or victim, because he plays both the villain and is victimised. But I think that Shylock is more villainous than victimised, because of his unstoppable thirst for Antonio's blood, although it is true that Shylock was treated badly, racially abused and insulted all of his life. Shakespeare doesn't create an obvious distinction between Shylocks villainy, or his victimisation. It is almost impossible to distinguish Shakespeare's views only Jews, since he portrays them as evil, scheming, deceitful villains, as well as abused and suffering victims. Shakespeare seems to have written The Merchant of Venice with an unbiased view, which perhaps makes the play even more dramatic. Making Shylock both a villain and a victim draws hatred, as well as sympathy from the crowd, making them feel all extremes of their emotions. Shakespeare used this in all of his plays, which may partially explain his outstanding success as a playwright. A.D The Merchant Of Venice 1 Alex Sawyer 28/04/2007 5 Garnet ...read more.

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