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The Merchant Of Venice - Shylock

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Introduction

The Merchant Of Venice In Act 4 scene 1 Shylock has brought Antonio to court to receive payment of his bond. Antonio's ships have sunk and been raided by pirates and his wealth along with it. In Antonio's bond with Shylock it was agreed that if the bond couldn't be paid, then a pound of Antonio's flesh was to be forfeit. Shylock is angry about many misfortunes in his life, which include the loss of his daughter to a Christian, this is a real embarrassment and a painful experience because of strong racial prejudice and hatred between the religious groups at the time. Also for losing his daughter, Shylock is enraged as he loved her very much and whilst leaving, Jessica (Shylocks daughter) stole many precious jewels and money from Shylock somewhat ' delving the knife further into the wound' as such. So when Shylock enters the court he knows Antonio will not have his money, for Tubal has told him about the merchants ships, but this is irrelevant as Shylock is not interested in money, but revenge on the 'Christian' for all the trouble Christians in general have inflicted in his life. This scenes importance is tremendous as this is really the climax of the play. Antonio is almost certain to die for the loan he bestowed his friend and also it looks set for the Jew Shylock to triumph in the court in terms of revenge rather than money though. ...read more.

Middle

The Christian fighting the Jew. Their attitude to Shylock would have been one of dislike and disgust, due to the general opinion of Jews for the time period. Shylock would of most likely of been played by an odd looking person with a large nose to fit the common stereotype, he would most likely of also been ugly to an extent to somewhat distance the audience from him even further. Through Shakespeares almost two-sided approach to Shylock, the victim and villain. He may of shown some that Jews were similar to Christians, although it is likely the Elizabethans will of thought his misfortune to be punishment from god. In the court scene Shylocks first speech, he states that he would prefer to receive Antonios bond rather than his money. ' I rather choose to have a weight of carrion flesh than to receive three thousand ducats'. As stupid and maybe insane this craving is, I can understand why he would rather punish Antonio rather than receive his money. With his daughter, money and pride gone he has nothing else to live for except revenge for the atrocities in his life and killing Antonio a 'wretched' Christian is a good start. Bassanio questions this motive and Shylock replies by saying 'I am not bound to please thee with my answers'. This is an empowered outburst. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion this plays significance in the 21st century is small as we live in a society based on racial equality. Although it does show the discrimination the race went through in Elizabethan times. The play is also a moral and philosophical work as Shakespeare through his work has tried to send a message to the public and change the opinions of people. I suppose the play illustrates how if you mock someone enough you can drive them to do terrible things and it give you an insight into how people handle judging and tragedy. The contrast of this plot with the others is large. Shakespeare has used this plot as his serious plot with a message amongst other plots such as the romance between Bassanio and Portia, the forbidden love of Jessica and Lorenzo, the loyalty of true friends Antonio and Bassanio, the comedy of Bassanio and the ring and the treachery of Jessica to her father Shylock. Which all add something different to the play along with their own messages. I think Shylock was a man driven by years of mistreatment and abuse. I believe it was not his fault entirely that he became so unforgiving and vengeful but rather the Christians that taunted him. But in the end he tried as hard as he could to be unmerciful and ended up as what he hated most and thus a just end. ...read more.

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