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The Merchant of Venice Essay

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During 'The Merchant of Venice', Shakespeare allows the audience to see both sides to Shylock, although one side of Shylock may be more obvious than another. Shakespeare manipulates the audience's view of Shylock by: the word choice involved during Shylock 's speech in Act III scene 1, when trying to show the similarities between Jews and every other human, the reactions of other characters in the play towards Shylock, and the prejudice views against Jews in the 16th century. Another factor that contributed greatly to how Shylock was seen was the type of play Shakespeare wrote. It was intended to be a comedy and therefore Shylock was intended to look like a certain type of character. All of these elements effected not only the depiction of Shylock's character but also the story of the play and the main themes, for example conflict. One way that was instantly portrayed to the reader, as Shylock to be a villain was the fact he was a Jew, and the actions Shylock took when loaning money to people. These actions include lending loans on which he charges interest. For example, when arriving to ask for a loan, and finding out Shylock charges interest, Antonio states that what he does as, "An evil soul producing holy witness / Is like a villain with a smiling cheek", (Act I, Scene 3, line 96-97). ...read more.


The audience sees the majority as "right", because their side of the argument, or battle seems to be most popular and more people were backing the majority's side, and so the assumption is made that the audience will also follow the crowd and take the majority's side. However, in some acts of the play, by only allowing the audience to see through the eyes of the supposedly good side of the conflict, Shakespeare prevents the audience taking pity on Shylock. For example in Act 2, scene 8, when Shylock is seen lamenting the loss off his daughter and his ducats, Salanio just starts mocking him, making sarcastic remarks like, "As the dog Jew did utter in the streets: / 'My daughter! O my ducats! O my ducats! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!'", (Act 2, Scene 8, line 14-16). This act of mockery that Salanio and Salerio carry out also implies that none of what Shylock was saying was taken seriously, as he was distressed and all Salerio and Salanio did was laugh at him. This quotation also emphasises that all Shylock really cares about is his money, and his reputation, by the fact he seems distressed with his daughter running of with not any old person, but a Christian. Here, the audience can take pity on Shylock for the distress he is going through, however to lift these moods, Shakespeare adds mockery to the situation. ...read more.


This plea for acceptance really shows the audience that Shylock is trying say he also has feelings. For example when Shylock speaks of his "own flesh and blood to rebel", (Act 3, scene 1, line 32), the audience can pick up that Shylock is feeling many emotions at one time like disappointment and sadness. This quotation simply allows Shylock to express emotion, allowing the audience to see it and make assumptions of him other than villainous. By picking up that Shylock has emotions Shakespeare enables the audience to start to sympathise to Shylock, thus making him look quite human. This emotive material in the play also could influence the audience's own decision about what they think should be the outcome of the story and all the plots. In conclusion in order to obtain these different views of Shylock Shakespeare had used different methods of manipulating his characters to create certain, wanted ideas to be portrayed to the audience. But in each case Shakespeare had obviously though very hard of how to convince the audience the views he wanted them to have, at certain points in the play. GCSE Coursework-Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice Though Shylock is intended to be the villain of the play, he is also portrayed to be quite human. Discuss how Shakespeare allows the audience to see both sides of his character and to what effect? Simran Sidhu 1 27/11/07 ...read more.

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