• 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 - Is Shylock a villain or a victim?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE Shakespeare Coursework Essay Is Shylock a villain or a victim? One of the factors that make Shakespeare plays famous is its capability to appeal to wide range of audience. For example in The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare brings up the question of religion, racism and morality for the intellectuals amongst the Elizabethans but for most off the groundlings and ill-educated it was a simply a battle between Christians and Jews in which the Jew (e.g. Shylock) should end up facing the heat of defeat in the climax. England was a Christian country, where Christianity was followed and taught from early ages. At this time Jews were perceived as "villains of society" in fact in the Venetian community towards the centre of Venice, you would find the homes of Christians and towards the outskirts and suburbs you would find the homes of Jews which showed that were hated, unwanted and excluded members of society. They were far inferior and a marginalized community to that of the Christians because of their religion. It was also at the time when the buzz was going around about Jews being the killers of Christ for which they were hated and secluded more. Venice was a very desirable and rich place to live in being the important trade route from the east to the west. Jews were often banned from owning land or to participate in any trade. So effectively the Jews ended up with a lot of spare cash to spend on investment. Christians were banned to profit on lended money there fore they borrowed money from the Jews and were hated by Christians for making profit on money lending. ...read more.

Middle

Shylock is again seen as a villain for being mean to her daughter, mysterious and a repressor of faith. As night falls Lorenzo and friends meet Jessica. She gives the casket of jewels to Lorenzo, who tells her not to be ashamed of what she is doing. Audience here wants the affair to succeed because they want her to get away from her father who is a villainous Jew and what's more by giving the casket of jewels she is betraying the Jew, which is always good for the audience. In Act 3 scene 1 Salerio confirms the bad news of Antonio ships sinking whereas on the other hand Shylock now lements the disappearance of his daughter and blames Salerio for knowing about his daughter's elopement with Lorenzo. Shylock emphasises the betrayal of his own flesh and body and tells Antonio to look to his bond "Shylock - You knew none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter's flight........ My own flesh and body to rebel....... he was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy. Let him look to his bond." There is lot of emphasis on the flesh and body in this part where shylock's bond is to take a flesh from Antonio's body part as a way to his revenge but also on the other hand the betrayal of Jessica to shylock and her family's flesh and blood. It is a very symbolic theme in the play. We again see no kindness on Shylock's behalf to Antonio as he lacks any human feeling towards him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This marks the end of shylock. He is no more a rich Jew who has lots of money to lend He is a beggar who had lost all his money, his property and his daughter. He is left ruined and the Christians have won this battle against the Jew. He is utterly defeated. Gratiano make facial expressions of triumph over the Jew and so would all the audience. The play ends with Jessica being welcomed happily into the Christian community and there is music all over. Shakespeare had also been heart broken by Emilia Bassano (a very rich independent Jewish lady). If Shakespeare had been badly treated by a Jewish family then it may explain to us why the play is very pitiless to shylock towards the climax. The play is betrayal in light with faith. The punishment given to shylock however was fair to 16th century audience because of the racial prejudices between both the religions. To the modern audience it is not the right climax because we know about the bloodthirsty history of the holocaust, the mid-east battle and the rise of political correction. They speak for themselves. Even the Birth right of Shylock to believe in the Jewish religion is snatched away from him which means unfair treatment towards the Jews. Referring back to the question Shylock cannot be just a victim or a villain; he has to be a composition of both. He is victim of abuses some time and other times he is a villain in his actions and thoughts. One thing to notice here is that Shylock is referred in the play more as Jew, Wolf or devil. He is referred to as shylock very few times in the play. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    From the study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is shylock presented as a villain ...

    5 star(s)

    In the next scene shylock becomes aware of this he is pleased about this and this shows that all shylock wants out of the bond is Antonio's flesh, this would mean Antonio dieing and shylock would prefer that then his money back!!

  2. The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of ...

    Two important themes in the play are appearance/reality and money/wealth. The main theme of The Merchant of Venice is appearance vs. reality. Bassanio had borrowed, and is borrowing more, money from Antonio so he can look and live on a higher level than his own income can sustain.

  1. The Merchant of Venice: Is Shylock a villain or a victim who deserves our ...

    stain'd me with, Supply your present wants and take do doit Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me: This is kind I offer." Bassanio asks if this were kindness, to which Shylock responds; with a penalty issued in it "This kindness will I show.

  2. Free essay

    Is Shylock a Victim or a Villain in the Play "The Merchant of Venice"?

    Shylocks lack of sympathy and conscience could make the audience believe that he is a villain in this part of the play. When Portia appears in the court, she is dressed as a man. She is introduced as a doctor of laws and no one suspects that she is anything other than that.

  1. The Merchant of Venice - Jessica - Victim or Villain?

    to be ashamed to be my father's child but though I am a daughter to his blood I am not to his manors'. This conveys to us, that although she is aware of the effect her actions will have on her father she would still rather escape and have a good life herself than stay to keep her father content.

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

    The way the Christians have been forced to come to him when they need help would surely please Shylock. Although Shylock has been portrayed vastly as a villain, the incidents before his daughter runs away means another side of the story can be seen.

  1. "The Merchant of Venice": Shylock: Victim or Villian?

    To have Jessica say this shows the audience how miserable Shylock must be making her feel which will show us too how he is an unloving father, quite like a cold hearted beast.

  2. Women Struggling To Escape As A Theme In Cousin Kate , A Willing Mistress ...

    We know this from line 10, where it says ?And we did begin to play?. In ?Cousin Kate?, women were the passive recipients of men?s actions (?lured?, ?wore?, ?changed?, ?bound?...) whereas in ?The Willing Mistress? the woman participates in the actions.

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