• 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 Discuss Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Ravi Aggarwal GCSE English Coursework The Merchant of Venice Discuss Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock Shylock is one of the main characters in the play. He is a Jew who is treated very badly by all Christians. He is presented with an ideal opportunity to kill Antonio, who is a Christian moneylender, when Antonio goes to Shylock on behalf of Bassanio to ask for 3000 ducats so that he can go to Belmont and try for the hand of Lady Portia - a wealthy and beautiful heiress. The three men meet and agree to the bond to a bond, which states that Bassanio will have the loan of 3000 ducats for three months, but if Antonio fails to repay Shylock, Shylock will claim a pound of his flesh. Shylock is in many scenes of the play and his first one is Act 1 Scene 3 where Antonio and Bassanio first approach him for the loan. He speaks differently to everyone else so it makes out that he is an outsider. He says "-well" after some of his lines. The first thing he talks about in the scene is his business and then he only talks about his religion later, which shows that money is his main priority. He makes it obvious in this scene that he hates Antonio mainly because he is a Christian "I hate him for he is a Christian" (line 34) ...read more.

Middle

After that the audience would feel sympathy for him because we are told that his daughter sold his engagement ring for a monkey. At the end of the scene he learns of Antonio's ships and seems happy about it because now he thinks that Antonio might not be able to get the money, "I am very glad of it, I'll plague him, I'll torture him" (line 110). The audience would feel ambiguous towards Shylock because he is upset about some things in this scene but he is also saying some very provocative things, which would make the audience angry towards him. In Act 3 Scene 3 he is very obstinate and wants to keep the bond. He hates Antonio so much that he wants to kill him, which this bond now allows him to do, legally. "I'll have my bond, I will not hear thee speak" (line 12). Shylock is very merciless and vengeful. This scene shows the contrast between Shylock and Antonio with Shylock being very aggressive and Antonio not getting angry at all. The audience would feel very angry towards Shylock in this scene. Shylock's main scene in the play, as with most of the other characters in the play is Act 4 Scene 1 - the trial scene. Near the beginning of the scene, in his biggest speech, he says that he feels like killing Antonio, "But say it is my humour; is it answered?" ...read more.

Conclusion

In Elizabethan times the prejudice shown to Shylock in the play would be perfectly normal because Jews were banned in England since 1290 and were seen as evil people. Nowadays we are shocked at the prejudice because we are living after the holocaust when Hitler attempted to wipe out the whole Jewish race and now everyone has a degree of sympathy for Jews. The anti-Semitism shown in the play would be seen as comedy in the Elizabethan period because since Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta where the Jew there called Barabas was shown as a wicked ogre. Another reason for Shakespeare's play to be so successful was because Queen Elizabeth's doctor was executed for high treason in 1954. He was a Jew. Shylock has been seen as both the victim and the villain of the play. A victim because he loses all his money and has to change his religion at the end of the trial scene. Also he is the victim of lots of prejudice from the Christians like them spitting on him and calling him names. But in conclusion I think that ultimately Shylock is a villain. The way he treats those close to him, for example his daughter Jessica exposes his evil character. He lets his need for vengeance engulf all other aspects of his life and his complete lack of mercy towards Antonio, renders him as a villain in the eyes of the audience. ...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 ...

    Just an off-hand remark, but clearly showing the attitude towards difference, whether it be people or ideas, that the sixteenth century bourgeoisie obviously had firm belief in. In a stark contrast of interpretation, many things Shylock does in Act 1:3 show him to be extremely villainous.

  2. Examine how Shylock is presented in The Merchant of Venice.

    He is not portrayed as a character totally without emotions. We can understand his need for revenge, and we can feel sympathy towards him as we are shown the reasons for him becoming a villain. However, today, in the post holocaust era we see Shylock as more of a victim,

  1. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Antonio in 'The Merchant of Venice'

    we can also see the human in Shylock and sympathise with his desire for vengeance and justice against his Christian "intercessors". The climax of this heady relationship in Act 4 leads us to question who the real villain is, or as Portia suggests; "which is the Merchant here and which the Jew?"

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

    premature to say the least, but they were also in extremely bad taste. I think that in all Shylock does up until Portia speaks of her own clause, is villainous. His words, actions, persistent demand of a pound of flesh, all point to a non-negotiable bond, which proves he is indeed a villain in this instance.

  1. The Merchant of Venice is a racist play - Discuss

    She even states that her father is Satan. Shylock also mistreats his own daughter, by not loving her enough, even to the point where he complains about all of the money he's spending in a search to find her.

  2. How does Shakespeare portray character and relationships in Act 1 Scene 3 of 'The ...

    This just reinforces the act that their relationship is built on hate. We are given some important information about Shylock's motives for agreeing to the bond in an 'aside' - a speech revealing a character's inner thoughts to the audience only (lines 38-48)

  1. How helpful is it to call the 'Merchant of Venice' a comedy?

    to do anything to stop Antonio from bleeding to death "I cannot find it, 'tis not in the bond." (L258). Yet, because of this; he has given Portia the opportunity to find a loophole in the law and as a result, punish him for it "Tarry Jew, the law has another hold on you."

  2. Villain or victim? Discuss Shakespeares presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    Shylock's statement is sinister and twisted and gives the audience the feeling that all Shylock is out to do is to ruin Antonio. Shylock later discloses the reason why he wishes for Antonio to be caught in a weak spot is because he is a Christian and a threat to

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