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

The Merchant of Venice. Consider the complexities of Shylock's character with detailed reference to and evaluations of different interpretations.

Extracts from this document...


The Merchant of Venice. Consider the complexities of Shylock's character with detailed reference to and evaluations of different interpretations. The Merchant of Venice was written in 1599 and set in Italy; However as Shakespeare lived in England, it is more likely that he wrote the play depicting London. At the time it was classed as a comedy this is because Shakespeare wrote for the common people, and they would have the same prejudices and attitudes of ancient Christian Jewish hatred and seen Shylock as an outsider. The Christians looked down upon the Jews; they saw them as 'scum', this could be because the Jews were better businessmen than the Christians. Shakespeare shows this in The Merchant of Venice, as he has portrayed Shylock as a moneylender who is successful at his business and is very wealthy. Then we have Antonio who is a Christian merchant, who has been spreading lies about Shylock being a liar and cannot be trusted. This leads on to whether Shylock is really evil or has he been made this way by the Christians? We are first introduced to Shylock in Act One, Scene Three. We learn of the abuse he has suffered at the hands of the Christians, which shows him as a victim. ...read more.


"I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor, I would not of given it for a wilderness of monkeys" The actor Laurence Olivier cries over a photograph of his wife when he realises the loss of his wife's ring, this portrays Shylock as a victim. Salerio and Solanio are constant tormentors of Shylock and mock him at every opportunity with these words, 'as the dog Jew did utter in the streets in the streets: "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!"' They mock him for speaking aloud in such shock in the streets when Shylock was repeating 'my daughter! O my ducats!' This is quite important because here Shylock is weighing out each loss- his daughter, and his wealth. The repetition of daughter and ducats seems to be equal but then his words sway as Shylock repeats O my ducats further. This suggests that Shylock would prefer to have his ducats back to his daughter, suggesting that Shylock is a villain. Salerio and Solanio are mocking him though which makes Shylock seem the victim here, because Salerio and Solanio are laughing at him, basically making fun of him by over exaggerating what Shylock says. ...read more.


but at a price (the tragic side) his greed to retain what is his, often overtakes the more human side of his nature. The way he treats those he is close to, for example his daughter Jessica exposes his vindictive and evil character. He lets his lust for vengeance take over, and throughout the play Shylock shows no mercy towards Antonio. I also think he does have elements of being a victim, as is shown in a prejudiced and Christian court. Shylock is naive in believing he can take on the Christians and win, knowing that at the time Venetian law was designed to serve the best interests of the Christians. Shylock is made to convert to Christianity making his punishment harsh. It could be argued that Portia had taken Shylock's punishment too far. Shylock's life is spared but he may be better off dead because he has nothing to live for, remembering that all his wealth has been taken from him, and his daughter has left. He can no longer be the rich moneylender that he has been in the past. Although Shylock had attempted to pursue his revenge he still has the audience's sympathy because of the unfair and harsh punishment he has been given. It is unjust that Shylock's punishment is formed from his crime, but made on the basis of his religion ultimately. ...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. What is your assessment of the presentation of the character and role of Shylock ...

    They refer to Shylock as "The villain Jew" and their hatred of him means he can be seen as a victimised character. Now, in a modern society, the fact Jessica was "ashamed" of being Jewish, and in particular the

  2. Shylock is a tragic figure, trapped by prejudice and driven to revenge by the ...

    Shylock is then undone by his greed, as Portia finds a legal loophole in the document as she says "Take your pound of flesh, but let not a drop of blood be spilt" Shylock sinks. Seeing that he has been beaten, the greed still remains, and he tries to regain his money.

  1. "Is 'The Merchant of Venice 'a tragedy for Shylock and a comedy for all ...

    (IV I lines362-5). Shylock's response is: 'Nay take my life all pardon not that.' You take my house when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house, you take my life When you do take the means whereby I live. (IV I lines367-70)

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

    Shylock supposes that maybe his daughter is hiding from him in Bassanio's ship, but unfortunately she wasn't there. This upsets Shylock because, we assume, that he doesn't suspect his daughter would steal from him and it annoys him very much.

  1. Discuss the view that 'The Merchant of Venice' is a comedy with tragic possibilities.

    being the dim old man he is he says to Launcelot that he is "sure you are not Launcelot my boy." This comic interaction continues but these characters are very minor, especially Old Gobbo as he does not appear at any other time unlike Launcelot who appears several times.

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

    This scene is very dramatic, however, the audience would be relaxed as they would expect Shylock to give in to the pressure placed on him and not take his bond, the audience expects Shylock to show mercy and not be the villain that he seems to be.

  1. Shylock - Victim or Villain - What is your assessment of the presentation of ...

    of revenge, and it would be, in his opinion, a long time coming. Instead, he just tries to pass it off as his "pleasure" so they humour him. This is certainly suspicious and this suspicion is what would lead the court to think he was a villain.

  2. Merchant of Venice - is Shylock an evil villain?

    "By this, he is talking about losing his two best things in his life, his money and jewels and his daughter. He also says, "The thief gone with so much, and so much to find the thief." He has to spend money to make money.

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