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

The Duke describes Shylock as a ‘Stony adversary, and inhuman wretch.’ Did Shakespeare intend us to hate Shylock?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"The Duke describes Shylock as a 'Stony adversary, and inhuman wretch.' Did Shakespeare intend us to hate Shylock?" Although there is strong evidence to suggest that Shakespeare did intend us to hate the character of Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice," there are also moments in the play that gain Shylock a lot of sympathy from the audience. It is difficult for us to understand how Shakespeare intended his audience to perceive Shylock's character. Much of this difficulty is due to the change in beliefs and opinions of Shakespeare's audiences as time has progressed. The extent of anti-Semitism amongst the general public has diminished dramatically since Shakespeare originally wrote the Merchant of Venice. Anti-Semitism is the prejudice against Jews, often leading to discrimination and persecution. It originated in the times of Jesus. The Jews were blamed for the crucifixion of Jesus. With this fundamental hatred, anti-Semitism grew as people used the Jews as scapegoats throughout history. By Shakespearean times, Jews were becoming very successful businessmen. For this fact, and the prejudice of the early Christians, Shakespearean Christians held a great anti-Semitic belief. However, as centuries have passed, opinions have changed. Anti-Semitism today has decreased greatly. Much of this is due to the persecution of the Jews by Hitler during the Second World War. Hitler's actions have made the world much less anti-Semitic and more sympathetic towards the Jewish race. Even despite Hitler's actions, the world, on a whole, has a much greater understanding of what is morally right. From the moment we meet Shylock, we see that he is very against the Christian faith. ...read more.

Middle

This makes the audience sorry for Shylock but simultaneously evoking a feeling of dislike as they learn more about Shylock's character. In Act 2, Jessica runs away from her father to marry a Christian man, named Lorenzo. This in itself arouses much compassion for Shylock from the audience. However, as Shylock's reaction is seen, the audience loses all understanding and pity for Shylock, as he is much more worried about the loss of money that Jessica has stolen on fleeing. "I wish my daughter were dead at my feet and the jewels in her ear." "I shall never see my gold again!" He is not at all affected by the loss of his daughter, or if he is, he conceals his feelings and concentrates on the loss of his money. This makes the audience feel that Shylock dispassionate. However, there is evidence in the play to suggest that Shylock was deeply upset by the loss of his one daughter. "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian!..." However, Shylock continues to talk of his ducats and how he wants his daughter dead. This rise and fall of sympathy in scenes is also shown in Act 3. Shylock delivers a speech that, to begin with, wins him much sympathy from the audience. "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christians is? ...read more.

Conclusion

Shylock continues his praise for the doctor of law, as she continues to give Shylock his bond. However, as the doctor of law finds a loophole in the law, and proves that Shylock's bond is void, he becomes distraught and gains a lot of sympathy for himself from the audience. "Give me my principal and let me go." Shylock gains more sympathy from the audience due to the actions of the other characters onstage, and their persecution of Shylock. Gratiano begins as soon as the loophole is discovered, by mocking Shylock's previous praise for the teacher of law. "O Jew, an upright judge, a learned judge!" The audience feels more sympathy for Shylock as the other characters issue him his punishment. Shylock is told that not only must he give half his money to the state and half to his daughter's Christian husband, he must also become a Christian himself. This would have destroyed Shylock, as he is so against the Christian faith. " He presently become a Christian." By the time Shylock leaves the scene, the audience had grown in understanding and compassion for Shylock as he as had the change his religion (this would have gained more sympathy with the modern day audience,) and also give away all his money, probably his most dearest and prised possession. To conclude, I believe Shakespeare neither intended us to hate or like Shylock. The objective of the Merchant of Venice was to make audiences, at whatever time through history, to think about the people they discriminate against, and whether the prejudice is really justifiable. This document was downloaded from Coursework.Info - The UK's Coursework Database Click here to visit Coursework.Info/ ...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. Is Shylock More Sinned Against Than Sinning? Discuss...

    In Act 4 Scene I Shylock enters and the Duke tells him that the courtroom is expecting Shylock to be generous as Antonio is an important person to Venice but Shylock is stubborn, he will not change his mind and is very determined to kill Antonio as he hates him so much.

  2. Should I Feel Sympathy For Shylock Carstens denied doggiejoy's structuration idea.

    of stagecraft used by Shakespeare; he uses Salerio and Solanio as 'gossip' characters. These characters are used in small filling scenes to let the audience know what has been happening so far. These scenes are a good way to get the play flowing smoother without having to make any more

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

    The first scene may not be so reliable because Shylock is worried about his business, therefore is ill attentive. Shylock says, "I'll go in hate to feed upon the prodigal Christian" obviously referring to Antonio. Shylock saying this in the presence of his daughter would suggest he would occasionally share

  2. To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathize with Shylock in the ...

    Portia states "He is a proper mans picture, but, alas! Who can converse with a dumb show? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior everywhere."

  1. To what extent would an audience have sympathy for Shylock?

    I will run'. This suggests that Lancelet doesn't particularly like Shylock and describes him as the devil incarnate. This shows that he is expressing his dislike of him quite harshly. The audience would feel sympathetic for Shylock here because Lancelet works for him and he is calling him names behind his back.

  2. Shakespeare presents Shylock as a deceitful schemer, two-faced and certainly evil-minded, this takes away ...

    According to the Elizabethan attitude Jews were aggressive and despised; a modern audience would react differently because nowadays people care about other peoples cultures and religions and are generally more accepting. During the Elizabethan times, Jews were thought of to be evil, spiteful, obsessed with money and even thought to eat human flesh.

  1. José Martínez Ruiz,"Azorín": La voluntad as a regenerational novel.

    Here Yuste and Azor�n talk about literature and how it should be. Jos� Mart�nez Ruiz cleverly achieves a critique of the novel: " Y en la vida no se habla as�; se habla con incoherencies, con pauses, con p�raffos breves, incorrectos...

  2. Shylock is inhuman because he is inhumanly abused.

    Shylock says, "I hate him for he is a Christian; but more, for in low simplicity he lends out money gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice." Shylock hates Antonio because he does not charge interest upon lending money.

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