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The Merchant Of Venice

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Introduction

Do you consider Shylock to be a victim or villain in the Merchant if Venice? Shylock is one of Shakespeare's most complex characters due to the dual-nature of his personality. in 'The Merchant of Venice' Shakespeare explores the tension between christians and Jews and the issues of anti-semitism. Shylock is a victim of racial abuse,such as being spat on by Christians. However, at certain stages throughout the play, the audience witness equally horrific behavior towards Antonio, especially when Shylock tries to take Antonio's life. My initial impression of Shylock is one that he constantly pities himself. Shylock also comes across as arrogant and enjoys other people's misfortune. "Three thousand ducats well.." Shakespeare uses the technic of repetition to create a sarcastic tone with Shylock. the audience could also interpret the use of repetition as Shylock being smug and enjoying the fact Antonio, a Christian, has come to Shylock, a Jew, for help. Shylock refuses to socialize with Antonio and Bassanio "I will not with you". Shylock also takes offense when Bassanio politely invites Shylock to dine with them, "Yes to smell pork". Shylock seems to twist invitation into a racist taunt. This shows that Shylock is quick to feel that he is being victimized because of his Jewish beliefs. Personally when Shylock says "I hate him for he is Christian; But more for that in low simplicity, He lends money out gratis", I feel that Shylock uses religion almost ...read more.

Middle

By Salarino saying that Shylock and Jessica have as much in common as jet and ivory he is basically saying they are total opposites and have nothing in common at all.Also Christians in Shakespeare's era referred to Jews as the devil, seeing them as evil, which the colour black represents. While Christians looked upon themselves as pure and innocent, so by Salarino comparing Jessica to ivory he is saying that she is more of a Christian than a Jew. Shylocks makes reference to all the past injuries Antonio has caused him again as a response to Salanio's question "Why, I am sure if forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh.What's that good for?" Shylock's response to the question was "To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced and hindered me half a million." Shylock is saying that the pond of flesh is effectively worthless "To bait fish withal" and is only what Shylock believes he deserves after constant verbal and physical abuse at which he received from Antonio. Shylock also tried to justify his answer by saying "If a Jew wrong a Christian what is his humility? Revenge." This shows that Shylock is taking taking the pound of Antonio's flesh as revenge for tormenting Shylock about his beliefs. The effect of using so many rhetorical questions is to make the audience realize that Shylock and Antonio are both human. ...read more.

Conclusion

A modern audience may feel some pity towards Shylock as he is being victimized due to him being in a minority. Also the audience may see Shylock as a victim when Antonio announces that Shylock "presently become a Christian". At the end of the trial scene Shylock has lost all of his possessions and says "I am content." Each word may possibly symbolize each of Shylocks losses. 'I' is the shortest word, which could mean the loss of his daughter has had the least effect on Shylock. The loss of Shylock's wealth may be represented by 'am' and finally 'content' may possible show how much the loss of the Jewish faith has destroyed Shylock inside and all of his passion has been squashed and is a mere shadow of his former self. Personally I believe that Shylock was a victim throughout "The Merchant Of Venice" because I believe that if I was put through years of racial abuse and discrimination from Antonio I would be desperate for revenge and make him feel small and powerless. Shylock was exactly in the same state of mind and I believe Shylock only wanted to give Antonio a taste of his own medicine. The events of World War II may have influenced me to feel more sympathy for Shylock and be disgusted by the way he was treated but I still personally believe that Shylock was the victim of Antonio's torment. Kiera Coyle Mr Grundy English Coursework Kiera Coyle Mr Grundy English Coursework ...read more.

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